ChatGPT - Friend or Foe for Higher-Ed Marketing

Sign up for our newsletter

Last Updated: Jun 15, 2023 11:00 AM

ChatGPT - Friend or Foe for Higher-Ed Marketing

The discussion around Generative AI & ChatGPT has been gaining significant momentum in the rapidly evolving landscape of higher education. For higher-ed marketers and web professionals, deciphering the implications of these technologies can be daunting. 

However, an opportunity presented itself on May 10 when Troy Singer, co-host of The Higher Ed Marketer Podcast, moderated a captivating round table discussion regarding the hot topic of Generative AI & ChatGPT in higher-ed marketing. 


This insightful session delved deep into the impact of generative AI & ChatGPT on higher-ed marketing not only in 2023 but also in the future.

Troy was joined by marketing and higher-ed industry experts:

Bart Caylor, Founder of Caylor Solutions

Caroline Dunn, VP of Marketing at Wahsega 

Kyle Campbell, Founder of Education Marketer 

Chris Rapozo, Marketing Specialist at Hannon Hill

Singer posed thought-provoking questions, supplemented with his own insights, and eagerly invited the audience to explore the pressing question on everyone's mind: 

Is ChatGPT a friend or a foe for higher-ed marketers?

To answer the question, the panel focused on four pillar topics to guide the conversions: 

Let's discover what the panel had to say about the potential synergy or confrontation between humans and AI in higher education marketing.

Commoditization of content

Campbell kicked off the conversation, referring back to his extensive higher-ed content marketing career, which spans about a decade, and shared an epiphany that the advent of ChatGPT “leveled the playing field” as it relates to content marketing. 

Traditionally, content was seen as an asset, a “store of value,” as Campbell described it, which decreased in value when suddenly everyone with access to a computer and the internet could produce articles within seconds. 

In his opinion, the future of content no longer depends on the actual content but on who’s publishing that content. 

“Content used to be this asset store value. But now the real value is in the audience that you attract, and audiences are attracted to people rather than the commodity of content,” Campbell explains. 

Therefore higher-ed institutions should look within, identify their thought leaders, and build up their profiles to ensure that when content is published, it’s actually read. 

Caylor agreed with Campbell’s school of thought and added that the reason why content is commoditized is that there is “very little thought or refinement of what comes out of an AI engine.”

Asking ChatGPT to simply write a blog post about a math program and its importance will result in the engine harvesting its output from already commoditized content on the web, further diluting its originality and richness. 

The secret, Caylor says, is to learn how to “prompt the AI tool and recognize it as a draft,” then analyze it, treat it as if a junior copywriter produced it, and then either refine it to make it your own or discard it and start over. 

Simply using the half-baked, regurgitated content a generative AI tool produces will inevitably add to the commoditization of content and the penalization of said content as search engines adapt and recognize AI-generated content and push it down in the search results, with limited chance to ever appear on page one of such search engines.

ChatGPT & Research

With a BEE and MSECE in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech and an MBA with a concentration in Marketing, Caroline Dunn started the next pillar question about how ChatGPT can help marketers with research. 

As a marketer of lifesaving PA systems at schools, hospitals, and warehouses, Dunn needs to know how to create compelling content about integral “behind the scenes” parts of the operations inside the buildings of her respective audiences. 

The issue: “Nobody is going to let me into their hospitals to look at their supply closets,” Dunn said.

So, she uses ChatGPT to understand how overhead paging works in hospitals, then tailors her content and communicates the benefits of her product in a language familiar to her target audiences. 

Campbell supported Dunn’s example and encouraged the audience to use generative AI tools to outline original content with the information given to “enhance a program’s process and get so off the back of [the AI generated content].”

Caylor stressed the importance of asking ChatGPT to cite the sources and give references to where information originated.

Caylor also gave an example of how he had to find a particular quote from a well-known person and asked ChatGPT to reference the publication, which memorialized the quote. ChatGPT found the quote in seconds, cutting down on hours of painstaking research and a quest for a quote in an article somewhere on the world wide web that he may or may not have found on his own. 

Speed in Terms of adoption of ChatGPT

No stranger to speed with a sub-three hour marathon record to his name and a driver's license earned on Germany's Autobahn, Hannon Hill's very own marketing specialist, Chris Rapozo, began pillar topic number three, which focused on speed in terms of adoption rates since ChatGPT emerged.

Inspired by the spirited discussion on research just minutes before, Rapozo underlined that since becoming publicly available in November 2022,

ChatGPT accounted for 1.16 billion active users (at the time of the webinar), reaching 100 million active users within only two months of its release. 

To put this into perspective, Rapozo offered statistics related to the speed of adoption of other well-known tech pioneers. 

It took the internet, which was released in 1993 and currently has 5.16 billion active users, seven years to reach 100 million active users.

Facebook, with its nearly 3 billion active users, had to work for 4 ½ years to reach the 100 million user mark, and the iPhone, which currently accounts for 1.5 billion users worldwide, needed about 3 ½ years to get to the 100 million active users club. 

With these statistics fresh in the audience's mind, Rapozo focused their attention on E.M. Rogers' Diffusion of Innovations Theory to drive home the significance of his points and inform them that if a product wants mass market acceptance, it has to cross a tipping point also knows as the chasm, which lies between 15 - 18% of market penetration.

Taking into account the 5.16 billion active internet users and comparing them to the 1.16 billion active ChatGPT users, Rapozo identified that around 22% of current internet users utilize ChatGPT, meaning that the generative AI tool crossed the chasm in mere six months since its release in November 2022 and is well on its way to becoming mainstream. 

Hacks and General Usage of ChatGPT

To finish the round table discussion, the panel aimed to provide practical advice and used case scenarios the audience could use immediately after the webinar. 

A tech enthusiast and early adopter, Caylor shared his experience using ChatGPT while watching the March Madness tournament. 

During a span of two hours, he asked ChatGPT to give him marketing ideas on how to build relationships with local influencers for his particular target audience, resulting in 40 pages of content he uses as an onboarding document when meeting with prospective clients.

“I look for [ChatGPT] to save me time, so I can focus my efforts on relationships and on things that only I can do as a human that require wisdom and thought,” Caylor says. “But when it comes to getting some drafts and assistance, that’s what I’m using the hacks for.”

Campbell reminded the audience that the tool is a “performer” and you, the user, “need to tell it what part you want it to play,” similar to a theater director who must give the actors direction and tells them what to do to create a vision the producer has in his or her mind. 


The round table discussion highlighted the importance of Generative AI & ChatGPT in higher education marketing.

Insights from the panel emphasized that the value of content now hinges more on the publisher's credibility than on the volume of content created.

The panelists suggested using AI tools strategically for research while ensuring the citing of sources. 

The rapid adoption rate of ChatGPT was underscored, indicating its movement toward mainstream use, and the practical AI hacks were discussed, reminding us that while AI can assist in many tasks, it's still our uniquely human attributes—like wisdom, discernment, and the ability to build relationships—that make the real difference in our work.

To get the full scope of the conversation, watch the talk on demand. 

The panelists closed the discussion with a poll asking the audience for their thoughts on the all-encompassing question of whether generative AI and ChatGPT is a "friend" or a "foe" for higher-ed marketers. 

The results:

65% considered generative AI a friend, 6% a foe, and the rest said, "I don't know."

Form your own opinion by watching the complete panel discussion on demand below. 

Photo of Chris Rapozo

Chris Rapozo
Marketing Specialist


Content Marketing
Tech Tips
Webinar Recording