Emplifi Community Corner: Sydney Stern Miller

Evelyn Taylor — Community Manager, Emplifi

Community Corner: Q&A with Sydney Stern Miller

How marketers can get started with Generative AI

Generative AI is just getting started, and marketers today have the unprecedented opportunity to explore how new technology like ChatGPT can enhance the work they're already doing. From problem-solving to driving creative inspiration, the ways Generative AI can support marketing teams (including social media) are multiplying. It's up to you to dive in.

Sydney Stern Miller is a self-described "AI enthusiast and voracious learner," consistently sharing her journey in Generative AI with the digital marketing community. Emplifi asked Sydney about her experience with Generative AI, best practices for prompting tools like ChatGPT, and how social media teams can leverage the technology while maintaining authenticity.

We'd love to get to know you! Tell us a bit about yourself and your background in marketing and social.

I'm a Digital Marketing & Social Media Content Strategist at Deloitte, as well as an author, artist, and workshop facilitator. I spent the first half of my career in HR, but the thing I didn't love about it was that it was really hard for me to be myself at work. It's important for me to be authentic and not mask who I am, so I eventually went into community management, which led me to the incredibly vast world of marketing.

From community management at a global coworking brand to creating social media strategies for startups, to global HR for a Fortune 500 company – what I've learned in my professional career is that it all comes down to human connection and cutting through the noise. Sometimes that means you have to make your own rules.

Writing has always been my window into the world. I published my first children's book in 2021 and am currently working on a memoir for my daughter. 

How did you first get into Generative AI?

The truth is that it was fear-induced. I was feeling burnt out at work toward the end of last year. At the same time, chatter had really started to pick up about Generative AI, and I worried that if I didn't get out in front of this "revolution," I was going to be left behind. I thought that, if I didn't acquire the skills needed to function in partnership with AI, my career might not survive.

At the same time, I felt like I had an opportunity because AI is still starting to evolve and no one knows it really well. I wanted to at least feel comfortable using it and understand what the heck it was. I decided to start out small, take an online certification through Coursera, and commit to using ChatGPT every single day, even if it was for something silly (like creating coloring book pages for my kid). No one was more surprised than me that I became a little obsessed, using it to solve problems at work, problems at home, and explore ideas everywhere else. I feel like it made me at least three times more productive, and that alone made me realize its value. I haven't looked back.

Why do you think marketing teams should start using Generative AI, or at least get familiar with it?

The thing about Generative AI is that it gets smarter every time we use it. I think that out of all of its skills, copywriting has a long way to go in terms of being a viable out-of-the-box solution – at least if you are someone who cares about quality over quantity. I am interested to see how that changes in 2024. That said, Generative AI is an incredible partner to brainstorm with, help research, and edit or summarize content and copywriting. 

My hot take is that being a good writer just became a far more valuable skill to have in this new, AI-driven world. As more people begin to use AI to create content, it has already started to look and sound the same. That's where we come in. AI shouldn't be about replacing human creativity, but adding to it.

For example, I used Generative AI to help the well-being leader at my company establish trust and authority in the marketplace through her LinkedIn presence. I asked ChatGPT to come up with five top content pillars that align with her resume and interests, and started building a library of LinkedIn post examples for her to riff off of. Instead of directly using the content you get from Generative AI, I think there's an important human-toning component; as a writer, I take the skeleton from AI and fill in the meat.

In what ways can brand social teams be leveraging Generative AI where it's at today. Any specific use cases or tools you value?

Yes! My favorite thing to use GenAI for is problem-solving or thinking outside the box on projects I've been procrastinating on. For example, I had to come up with a YouTube strategy, which can mean 600 different things. I worked with ChatGPT to get over the initial threshold and build out some presentation guidelines. In terms of writing emails, video scripts, and social media content, I'll have an idea of what I want to say, and ask ChatGPT to generate ten different hooks for me to get started. I never use what it gives me directly, but it does open up my worldview to think about concepts and words that aren't normally in my purview.

I am on a very small team that runs a very large social media strategy. I've been using Generative AI to build a resource hub and quarterly email campaign for our ambassador and inclusion council groups. Other social-related tasks like image descriptions (alt text) can be time intensive, and AI can help. Another point is data analysis; I've uploaded social media analytics or survey results and asked ChatGPT to summarize that data in a way that will resonate and engage my team. I'll upload my data and ask AI to pull out a few statistics or bullet points that it thinks will stand out, and pull those into our monthly KPI report.

I can pull on the expertise of the internet and the world through generative AI, and get things done a lot faster. It feels a lot less intimidating, and like I have a team working with me versus moving a mountain by myself.

Since it's so new, copy written by generative AI can be repetitive or recognized by audiences because it doesn't always sound like a person wrote it. What are some ways social media marketers can maintain authenticity and empathy while using it for copywriting?

I agree – if I see it output "Hey Linkedin Fam!," one more time, I might lose my mind.

First, it's crucial to specify the tone. Saying, "I want this to sound authentic, empathetic, and helpful, avoiding any fancy jargon and sticking to conversational, easy-to-digest language" can transform the output.

Then there's chain prompting. Chain-prompting is a fancy way of saying, "Ask Generative AI many small questions instead of one mega question." It's a conversation. There have been many times where I've told ChatGPT, "This sounds too cheesy, try again please" or "I hate this. It needs to be more provocative. Channel the tone and style of George Carlin." It can be a process of trial and error, but remember, if the AI isn't hitting the mark, it often means the request could be clearer. Don't get frustrated with the robot. Give it better instructions.

AI is a tool – a powerful one. But even a nail gun can't build an entire house. It's not a replacement for human thought, creativity, or oversight.

Check out Sydney's Copywriting + Empathy ChatGPT Cheat Sheet.

In your opinion, why is empathy so important in social media marketing — in terms of social media performance and community building?

Empathy builds psychological safety – it makes people feel seen, heard, and understood. People don't want to be sold to, they want to connect. It takes the interaction from a brand talking at you, to someone talking to you. Good writers are able to build emotional connections through their content because of the experiences they've had in real life. AI doesn't have those experiences — it takes inspiration from people. At the end of the day, empathy comes from work that we've done in the real world.

Functioning from a place of empathy creates deeper bonds and relationships. If people can see that a brand is actually made up of people who understand their needs and challenges, they're more likely to stick around. It also helps show that a brand cares about more than just making a sale; it contributes positively to the community.

I also looked through your list of social media and marketing AI prompts. Is there anything you'd like to call out around prompting Generative AI tools?

My advice is to start by using it every day for at least one thing. When I first started out prompting AI, I'd start every chat with these instructions:

"During this conversation, please always do two things; 

  1. Review the question I ask, propose a better question, and see if I would like to use that question instead of my original question. 

  2. Always ask at least one follow-up question after your response to further the conversation and provide more insight into the topic."

The biggest learning curve for me was getting out of the Google search mindset. For the past 20+ years, we've been trained to go online, ask one straightforward question, and sift through the Google search results. Hopefully, it'll answer your question, but it won't be tailored to you specifically in the way Generative AI responses can be.

Any other insights you'd like to share with our audience?

There's never been a better time to get started in AI! The playing field is wide open, and learning it will be the best thing that you'll ever do for your career. There are very few AI experts, and the demand increases by the day. We're all figuring it out together. Start before you're ready.

Connect with Sydney on LinkedIn and check out her website.

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