How to use AI writing prompts to get the best out of your AI tools

As the popularity of AI marketing gains momentum, there is a rising need among marketers to sharpen their skills in writing prompts to fully leverage their investments in AI tools. Even though these tools are becoming more user-friendly and intuitive with time, you still need the right nuances in AI prompts to generate desired responses.

We’ll help you navigate this learning curve so you can write effective prompts that align with your different marketing needs. Read on to understand the mechanics of AI writing prompts and how to craft them for the best results. Plus, explore different types of prompts and use cases.

What are AI writing prompts?

AI writing prompts are a form of interaction between a user and an AI tool that enables the model to generate the desired result. Prompts enhance the efficiency of an AI platform so it processes data more efficiently to derive valuable insights and generate engaging content.

AI prompts are both an art and a science. They need human intuition and creativity to formulate the right query and combination of elements necessary to catalyze an AI tool’s built-in prompt logic. It’s only then that you will fully utilize your AI tool and get the insights and ideas you need.

AI tools enable you to offload time-consuming tasks, saving time and energy for strategy planning and development. With effective AI prompts you can optimize these tools to extract key information from social listening and customer experience data.

Also, ideate and draft compelling content such as product descriptions, web articles and social posts. This is especially useful, given content creation remains one of the most time-consuming tasks for marketers, per The Sprout Social Index™.

AI prompts also help you customize content for a global audience by adapting it for different demographics to reach a wider audience. You also have the flexibility to adapt the tone and style of your writing based on the situation—a crucial part of AI-driven customer experience.

With this context in mind, let’s take a look at the different types of AI writing prompts needed to achieve various tasks.

Types of AI prompts

According to The 2023 State of Social Media report, 93% of business leaders say they expect to increase investment in AI and ML to scale social customer care functions over the next three years. It’s clear that brands are exploring AI capabilities for marketing and beyond more confidently. It’s no longer a question of when but how they will adopt AI.

Effective writing prompts spark your creativity and help you write more thoughtfully, so you can better meet your goals. Here’s a look at how different types of AI writing prompts serve various purposes.

Creative prompts 

These are used to develop engaging and creative content based on audience preferences. This includes long and short-form copy, artwork, music and videos. An example of a short-form AI writing prompt is, “Create a social post for Mother’s Day” and for a long-form is, “Write an email introducing (insert: new product) to an existing customer”.

Creative prompts can also be used to create content to mimic a certain writing style. For example, “Write a short brand origin story for a social post in the style of Mark Twain.”

If you’re using an AI image generation tool, a good prompt could read, “Create an image of a child playing with a dog in a garden”.

Informational

These prompts are used to extract details from big data to inform decision-making. For example, to get an overview of a competing brand, a prompt could read: Give me a brief history of Nike’s more successful shoe line.

Reasoning

These are used to draw conclusions about a subject and are useful in developing compelling content. For example, “What is the impact of building strong communities on social?”

Listicle

Listicles are multi-purpose AI writing prompts used to compile a list of options such as email subject lines, blog titles, brands, etc. For example, “Write a list of blog titles on the importance of an effective content calendar”.

Instructional

These help generate content to provide guidance. These serve various purposes such as customer service AI or creating a guide for a new team member. An instructional prompt may read, “Explain the steps needed to upgrade from the Sprout Social Standard plan to the Enterprise plan.”

Interactive

These prompts create interactive conversations and can be used in multiple ways. For example, to train a human resource team, a prompt would read: Pretend this is a job interview and I am interviewing a candidate for the role of a social media manager.

Keyword

These AI writing prompts are words or phrases that are closest to the goal of the generative content. These are mostly used to draw insights from data or in image or video creation.

How do AI prompts work?

AI writing prompts need to be very specific and contain all the essential elements required to elicit an optimal response. Here’s why this is necessary.

AI prompt engineering depends heavily on natural language processing (NLP). The technology helps the tool interpret queries, written in a conversational style, to generate relevant answers. NLP algorithms scan all the data points in a query, as machine learning and other AI tasks work in tandem, to generate the corresponding output. This process involves three stages:

1. Asking a query

The AI writing prompt is analyzed by natural language understanding (NLU), a subtask of NLP. This technology helps the tool identify the context of the query so other AI and ML tasks can take necessary steps to generate the right response.

2. Processing the query

The AI model scans available data to search for relevant information by using sub-tasks such as named entity recognition (NER) and intent recognition. Entity extraction and part of speech (POS) taggers in the tool identify relevant keywords and details such as the task (write a blog post), style (creative/formal) or word count (100).

Sentiment mining algorithms analyze the processed information and detect the tone to match the intent of the user. They modulate the response for appropriate phrasing and style as NLP algorithms choose the right words, grammar and syntax to create the output.

3. Answering the query

This part uses natural language generation (NLG), where different data points based on the question string in the prompt combine to generate a response. In the background, neural networks (NNs) help the tool retain the context of the query throughout a conversation. This enables the tool to remember previous prompts and generate responses relevant to the ongoing interaction.

Eventually, the tool generates the most accurate response based on its training and the AI writing prompt’s style (creative, listicle, keyword, etc.).

How to write AI prompts

AI writing prompts must be clear, concise and direct to ensure the tool understands the task accurately. Each query must be finely tuned, considering factors like topic relevance, keyword selection, structural coherence and target audience, to elicit the best possible response. Let’s dive in.

Goal: Be specific about the goal of your project. Are you creating a social post, customer care response, an email or a blog? Since each of these content types has a particular style, the response generated will only be accurate if you focus it on the goal.

Task: Your prompt should not contain more than one task. Every new task must be a separate query. For example, if you want to write a list of the most popular clothing brands with short descriptions and rank them according to popularity, you need to break this query into two parts.

Your first prompt will read, “Create a list of the most popular clothing brands and rank them according to popularity.” Once the tool generates the list, write the second prompt, “Write a short description for each brand on the list.”

Topic: Specify your topic. Are you writing about a healthcare product, the environment or a particular industry?

Target Audience: Think about who you are creating the content for. Is your target audience between the ages of 30 and 40? Are you writing for a group of professionals such as lawyers or teachers? Or is your content aimed toward customers you wish to convert?

Persona: Mention the persona you are writing for based on key traits, roles and responsibilities. For example, an AI writing prompt aimed at executive audiences could say, “Write a blog for business leaders in the SaaS industry about data security”. Specifying the persona is important because it helps the AI tool choose the correct vocabulary from its database and use it contextually.

Tone: Choosing the correct tone for your content makes it more compelling and engaging. This is especially useful in marketing communications and customer care. Specifying a tone such as assertive, happy, empathetic or friendly, helps sentiment analysis algorithms within the AI tool to choose appropriate words and phrasings in the response to ensure it matches the tone you specify.

Style: Mention how you want your response to be formatted. For example, you can ask for the output to be in bulleted form, paragraph or prose.

Keyword: Be specific about what you want from the response. The more specific you are in your query, the more accurate the output will be.

Word count: Last but not least, define the word count. It helps the AI tool know how long or short the response needs to be. In doing so, the tool can decide how much and what details are important to include in the response.

Combining as many of these elements in your prompt will help elicit the best response from your AI tool. Think of each of these elements as keywords and include or exclude them from your prompts as required.

Points to remember

Even though an AI tool generates answers conversationally, its understanding of nuances and contexts is limited. To meet this challenge, you must:

Be clear in your instructions.
Rephrase your queries if you’re not getting the response you want. This will also help train the tool to match your style.
Ask a close-ended question if you’re looking for a specific answer.
Include as much relevant detail as possible in your query.

Check the generated content for plagiarism and accuracy to meet the standards of your organization’s AI use policy.

Examples of AI prompts to improve your writing

Here are some examples of AI writing prompts used in different scenarios for content generation that will help improve your writing.

1. Social media messages

Social teams work on tight deadlines and constrained bandwidths to manage brand campaigns. Social tools with generative AI capabilities are apt for managing this challenge, like Sprout’s Suggestions by AI Assist feature.

The tool’s built-in prompt logic will generate three post options based on your prompt and enable you to make edits as you deem fit. You can also change the tone of the copy to be more confident, friendly or professional.

Here an AI writing prompt could read, “Are you feeling those summer vibes? Try our new seasonal lavender latte today.”

2. Social listening

According to the 2023 State of Social Media report, 97% of business leaders believe AI and ML tools will enable companies to analyze social media data and insights more efficiently. AI prompts are key in helping achieve this goal.

In such cases, the AI writing prompt is a keyword or a key phrase meant to extract meaningful information from social listening data. It should not be a sentence as this will dilute the accuracy of the result.

For example, in Sprout’s Queries by AI Assist, your prompt will be the keyword most relevant to your listening goal. When you write a topic keyword, such as a brand name for competitive analysis, the tool’s intuitive ML model will generate semantically similar keyword suggestions to assist in your listening goal.

You can apply the same logic to exclude terms from your social listening to narrow your search.

3. Copywriting

If you’re using AI prompts to fast-forward time-consuming parts of your writing project, the prompt will have a blend of the elements mentioned in the previous section.

For example, to make an article on social media budget management more compelling, you could include a sample social media budget. Getting one from a generative AI tool will save you time from actually calculating it.

In this case, I specified the goal (budget plan) and topic (influencer marketing) along with very specific details such as the maximum budget and the tenure of the budget. The writing prompt reads, “Create a budget plan for influencer marketing keeping within $4000 for the year.”

4. AI art prompt

AI writing prompts for image-generation tools are a bit different from copywriting tools. These prompts need to be very specific and contain keywords related to all the elements you want in your artwork.

For example, I created this image for a social post advertising snow boots using this prompt: Winter boots on a snowy cliff surrounded by evergreen trees and autumn leaves, in front of mountains.

Master AI writing prompts to optimize your work

AI writing prompts enable you to dig into social media metrics, competitor performance and audience engagement levels. They are also great for creating content strategies, relevant social posts and targeted ads for higher conversions. Knowing how to mix the right elements in an AI prompt is the key to getting the best out of AI tools so you work smarter, not harder.

Use these tips to create stellar prompts as you explore AI marketing tools to manage your time and workflows better.

The post How to use AI writing prompts to get the best out of your AI tools appeared first on Sprout Social.