This month the AI race is heating up, with Google under pressure, while Meta tries verification and Instagram gets Channels

It’s been a big month, especially in the AI world with Google outlining guidelines, and Microsoft starting an AI arms race. Meanwhile Meta makes moves to share the big blue tick, plus some expert advice on how brands can communicate during a crisis. Let’s dive in!

1. Instagram and Facebook to get paid-for verification

Following on from Twitter’s big blunder in November last year, Meta announced that Instagram and Facebook users will now be able to pay for blue tick verification. The trial started in late February for Australian and New Zealand users. Mark Zuckerberg, Meta chief executive, said the move will improve security and authenticity, though it is not yet available for businesses. The subscription would also give paying users, “ increased visibility of their posts, protection from impersonators and easier access to customer service.” They also plan to implement measures that will prevent people from impersonating brands and people, as they did on Twitter last year.

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 2. Google Says that AI-Generated Content is Not Against its Search Guidelines

As AI content platforms surged early this year, many questions arose around their uses and now Google has answered. This month Google came out stating that AI-generated content is not against their search guidelines. Unsurprisingly, AI has been used for content before ChatGTP existed, and Google’s stance was very clear. AI-generated content that was created purely for the purposes of manipulating Google search rankings would be counted as “spam” and filtered out. Google’s recent announcement largely stands by this, however they note that not all AI-generated content is spam, saying that “appropriate use of AI or automation is not against our guidelines. This means that it is not used to generate content primarily to manipulate search rankings, which is against our spam policies.” So yes, you can use ChatGPT or a similar tool to write up blog posts, then edit them yourself and post them without worrying about being penalised by Google – but will this benefit you and your business? That’s another question.

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3. Google and Microsoft are in an AI arms race – who wins could change how we use the internet

Since Google’s rise as the search engine of our time in 2000 not much has changed, until now. With the AI large language model (LLM) ChatGTP quickly rising to fame, it seems the world of Google search might change. ChatGTP is an interactive AI program that can generate content and “talk” to users by scouring the internet for information. It is already used as a sort of browser, so it was inevitable that bigger brands would want to adopt the technology. Microsoft has partnered with ChatGTP for their web browser, Bing. Google has now risen to the occasion with Bard, their own AI search engine. And though both are little-known and have made rudimentary mistakes in their early launches, only time will tell if AI chats are the future of our quick queries.

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4. Why words matter during a cost of living crisis

It’s no secret that the cost of living crisis is hitting everyone at the moment, and hitting hard. With spending on the downward turn, it’s clear that the trend of the moment is ‘budget-core’ – saving, spending less, and focusing on quality purchases when we do make them. The team at Creative Review spoke to lead UK copywriting agency Reed Words about how brands can communicate in this space. Though brands have had a while to hone their public face and voice in difficult times (we’ve had a few of them), one thing that is often overlooked is the copywriting. Speaking to your consumers in a way that resonates is a skill and as the creative lead at Reed Words stated, “Having one page in your brand guidelines on tone of voice or having principles like ‘human’ and ‘clear’ aren’t particularly helpful in this context.” If this moment is showing us anything, it’s that brands should put in the work to understand who they are talking to and what they need to say, so that they’re equipped to tackle topics about more than their products.

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5. Instagram Launches ‘Channels’ Broadcast Chat Feature

Recent studies have shown that while time spent on Instagram and Facebook is trending up, actual engagement and creation is dropping off. To combat this, Instagram released another new feature this month – ‘Instagram Channels’. Marketed as a ‘broadcast chat’ Channels is basically an in-app group messaging function to help users stay on top of specific topics, brands, or individuals and their updates. Once you join a channel, it will be added to your IG Direct chat list. You can then read and react to messages posted in the chat – though you can’t post to the chat feed. In the shift towards more private messaging and sharing functions, this new feature is a way for the app to stay relevant and appeal to users who are becoming more private. It also could be a way of helping creators continue to reach their audience – on their audience’s terms.