ChatGPT is a super cool computer program that can understand and talk like humans. It's like having your own personal robot helper! Or so so the hype says. But before we get too excited, let's talk about what ChatGPT is, what it can do, and how it can help small businesses. First off, ChatGPT stands for “Chat Generative Pre-training Transformer” which is a fancy way of saying that it's a program that can understand and write text, and it's especially good at talking and understanding conversations. It's like having a friend who is really good at understanding what you're saying and responding in a way that makes sense. These types of friends are a treasure but are as rare as a hen's teeth. But unlike a real friend that understands the raised eyebrow (Don Draper-style of course) ChatGPT is just good at the talking part. With that in mind, what can you use ChatGPT for?
ChatGPT can be used for a lot of different things
- Building chatbots – ChatGPT can be used to create chatbots that can carry on a conversation with people. This can be really helpful for small businesses that want to have someone available to answer questions even when the business is closed.
- Language Translation – ChatGPT can be used to translate text into different languages. This can be really helpful for small businesses that want to reach customers who speak different languages.
- Text Summarisation- ChatGPT can be used to summarize long text into shorter versions. This can be really helpful for small businesses that want to share information quickly and easily.
- Question answering – ChatGPT can be used to answer questions that people have. This can be really helpful for small businesses that want to make it easy for customers to find the information they need.
- Content creation – ChatGPT can be used to create high-quality content such as blog posts, product descriptions, and social media posts. This can be helpful for small businesses that want to save time and resources on content creation.
- Building Transformer-style Robots – Nah, only kidding, but it wouldn't it be great if you could type in a prompt and get a robot that could turn into a car back? And yes, I just added this to see if you're reading these bits or just skimming
Sound good? Of course it does! My first thought was “Yay! Something else to write my content! Omg, all the hours of my life I'm going to get back…”
So, I hopped over the ChatGPT, grabbed an account (very early December so I got in quick) and started asking it things. I used my manners because even though something is a machine I can't help but be polite. It's the British way. Deep down I secretly think it loves all my pleases and thank-yous… You can see how deluded you become around its capabilities!
As a straight-talking person, I can tell you now VAs, content creators and copywriters are not going to be out of business anytime soon.
But before you run out and start using ChatGPT, there are a few things you need to know…
First, you'll need to fine-tune it to your specific needs. This means that you'll need to teach ChatGPT about your business and what you want it to do. This can be a bit tricky, but there are a few ways to do it:
- Use OpenAI's API – OpenAI is the company that created ChatGPT, and they have a service called an API that allows developers to access the program and customize it for their needs. Be careful here. Some less-than-scrupulous individuals have pulled the API into an app, and are selling it.
- Use pre-built solutions – There are also pre-built solutions that are based on ChatGPT, such as chatbot platforms and content generators, that you can use without needing to have technical expertise.
- Work with a developer – If you're not comfortable working with the program yourself, you can hire a developer or collaborate with one to fine-tune ChatGPT for your specific needs.
- Learn and do it yourself – You can also learn about ChatGPT by just asking anyone on social media and having all the answers handed to you almost on a platter! The more specific you are, the more you train ChatGPT, the better your responses will be.
ChatGPR Prompts for Small Business Owners
So, I hop on over to ChatGPT and asked it to generate a list of prompts that would be useful to small business owners who want to get started with ChatGPT. And the list it gave back to me wasn't the list below this paragraph. Hell no. It was the most vanilla of vanilla things. And I say that as a person who loves vanilla! I even have vanilla walls in my office. But the responses left a lot to be desired. So, I asked ChatGPT for the best prompts, and I wasn't impressed by those. Next, I asked for beginner prompts. Worse than vanilla. It was vanilla and baked beans. Each time I asked for a new variation, ChatGPT changed some of the elements. Now, if I carried on that way I'd definitely be cruising the highway to insanity at 150mph in rush hour. When you're refining your prompts you have to train it like a toddler and tell it what you don't like… And what you do. After about 20 minutes it came up with this:
- “Generate a list of 5 potential blog post topics related to [industry] that are current and would attract the attention of readers.”
- “Create a script for a 30-second video advertisement for [business name] that highlights our unique selling points and includes a call-to-action.”
- “Write a series of 5 social media posts to promote our new [product/service], including hashtags and image suggestions.”
- “Draft an email marketing campaign to attract new customers for [business name], including subject lines, headlines and a clear call-to-action for each email.”
- “Generate a list of 10 questions to ask during a customer survey for [business name] to gather feedback on our products and services.”
- “Create a FAQ page for [business name] website, including common questions and answers about our products and services.”
- “Write product descriptions for [business name] e-commerce store, including features, benefits, and specifications of our products.”
- Generate a list of 10 keywords for SEO optimization for [business name] website, in order to increase visibility on search engines.”
- “Write a press release for a company event or milestone for [business name], including key details, quotes and contact information.”
- “Create a script for a customer service chatbot for [business name], including common questions and answers, as well as a way to escalate to a human agent when necessary.”
I'm sure if I spent another 20 minutes talking and training it, that I'd have a list good enough to use. Maybe even turn into a product.
Another thing to bear in mind is that ChatGPT is not perfect. It can make mistakes and it has been trained on data from the internet, which can be biased or contain offensive content. It's also only trained up until 2021. I don't know why, maybe it predicted the world would end in 2022? It's important to use ChatGPT in conjunction with human beings, you'll see why later on, and keep in mind its limitations and potential biases. Yes, dear readers, it still needs us to keep an eye on it!
Writing Styles for ChatGPT
When you don't like the output from ChatGPT you can ask it to rewrite sections or even all of it. So I decided to ask it what writing styles it can use. Yes, dear reader, we're at the screenshot portion of the article! As you can see below, my asking was all over the place, and yet, unlike the Internet Grammar Nazis whose day I would've ruined, it understood my intent!
As you notice, it reads like cardboard tastes.
So it needs refining, and my all-time fave refinement is to ask it to write something witty and amusing. Et voila! Here's the response:
Don't you just love that it can write like a news anchor, spitting out the facts, or as persuasively as your local dodgy car dealer… What about adding in some pop-culture references? Now here, I made a grave error. I didn't tell ChatGPT I'm British, and I'd like some local pop culture references. So that meant I got a good dose of US pop culture, and I've no idea whether it's right or wrong… Oh wait! I recognise Shakespeare! He's ours! Huzzah!
I'd heard online that you can even ask ChatGPT to write in the style of various famous people. From composers to poets to journalists. So I bravely decided to ask ChatGPT to write in the style of our beloved poet, Spike Milligan. Alas, again, I was doomed to disappointment. No Ning-nang-nong, where the cows go bong style poetry was uttered.
When this happens, you need to remind ChatGPT who Spike Milligan is, and I copied over the poem and shared it with it so that it knew who Spike Milligan was. In response, ChatGPT told me that Spike was a nonsensical poet… Then I asked it again to write in the style of Spike Milligan…
As you can see, it's an okay poem. It's not going to win any awards anytime soon, and Penguin will still sell heaps of Spike's books. I'm also pretty sure it's based on someone else's poem. When I read it, my brain starts filling with “O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree… Something something branches”.
So there you have it, it's not plagiarised the tune from O Christmas Tree, but it has used the same rhyming scheme. What I recognised was the rhyming scheme and my brain connected it to a Christmas carol. When you see content from ChatGPT that looks familiar, you are recognising the writing structure. You can ask the AI to alter the cadence and feel of the sentence too. This helps it understand your voice. This leads me nicely into the ethics section…
Ethical Considerations of ChatGPT
As with any technology, it's important to consider the potential impacts on society and individuals. For example, chatbots can be used to automate customer service, but it's important to consider the potential impact on actual customers. You only have to see how people respond to self-serve checkouts to know it's not going to be a smooth ride. Additionally, ChatGPT is a language model and its performance is based on the data it has been trained on, which might contain biases, stereotypes and unresearched answers that anyone with a blog can publish. You can choose to stop reading a blog post with fluff and vagaries, but once that content is in ChatGPT and it's learnt, then we're all infected with the fluffiness. There's no quality control as far as I'm aware
It's important to be aware of these biases and take steps to address them. And when you teach ChatGPT, teach it quality things. If you put rubbish in, you will get rubbish out.
How much does ChatGPT Cost to Use?
So, you're wondering about the cost of using ChatGPT, right? Well, it's not as simple as giving you a set price because it really depends on how you plan on using it. OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, offers a few different options for businesses and individuals looking to use the model. One option is to use the OpenAI API, which allows you to access and use ChatGPT through an application programming interface (API). The cost for this is based on the number of requests you make and the amount of computing time you use.
Another option is to use a pre-trained version of ChatGPT and fine-tune it for specific tasks using a smaller amount of data. This can be a more cost-effective option for those who don't need a ton of usage. Plus, there's also a private version of GPT-3 that's only available for enterprise customers. The cost for that will depend on the specific usage and number of requests.
The plan I'm using is free. Well, it's actually $18 worth of usage, that was gifted to me in exchange for feedback. There's a rumoured $42 a month version which gives you priority access. Keep in mind, though, that OpenAI occasionally updates its prices, so it's always best to check its official website for the most current information.
Will it always remain low-cost? That depends on so many variables, but, if no one is prepared to pay for it, then once the funding is gone, there's no more ChatGPT. I can't see that happening, however, there have to be people prepared to step up and invest in it to take it to the stage where it becomes a viable business product.
Will ChatGPT Replace Google/Search Engines?
Oh that wasn't a joke? Okay, I don't work for Google, ChatGPT or anyone related to them in any way, shape or form. But I do know humans. When they want something and don't really care about it, they ask on social media. It's convenient. When they want something more specific, or more personal… then they go to the search engines and ask. Google holds all the secrets, it knows where all the bodies are buried, and how they got there… And no, it's not all authors looking up things for their serial killers to do. I bet Stephen King misses the days when he had to research something in a book…
We still have books. The internet didn't replace them. We still have TV, the internet didn't replace that. Social media hasn't killed real-life friendships. We still have newspapers… Comic books… Phones…
We just might not use search engines the same way and ChatGPT isn't going to replace them any time soon.
Didn't I just share this poem with ChatGPT? Did I train it to know this? Gah!
Only that's not one of Spike's poems. ChatGPT says it's an example of one of his stanzas. A Google search tells me this poem doesn't exist. I had to check, because I'm not that much of a Spike fan to know first hand if it's real or not. And that's the thing with ChatGPT in its present position; it's superficial.
ChatGPT is an interesting tool for small businesses. It can help automate customer service, improve language translation, summarize text, answer questions and create better content. However, it's important to keep in mind that it's not perfect and requires fine-tuning to your specific needs. It's also important to consider the ethical implications of using ChatGPT and using it in conjunction with human oversight. And when in doubt… The search engines actually have the answers.
So, if you're worried about your job, or concerned about the rise of machines and the advance of Skynet, I think you have a few more years of survivalism and prepping your bug-out bag before anything drastic happens. In other words; Don't panic. Over time, there will be more and more uses of ChatGPT, and just like the computer didn't stop office work, there will be changes to the skills we need in the marketplace.