Spoiler: This post is right up your alley. How do I know? Let’s just say I have done my research.
As marketers, we often think we understand our target audience. We think we know what kind of content they want, and we also think we know what topics they find interesting. No one creates content assuming it’s off the mark; instead, we assume that our effort is worth something (interest, buzz, value, connection, etc.).
Turns out, we assume a lot, primarily that we’re hitting the mark. And maybe our assumptions are correct…but wouldn’t it be great if we could prove it? We can. Here’s how.
Find the Nuggets
With so much value being placed on content these days, why risk building a content strategy based on assumptions? Nobody rebrands or launches a new product without investing in market research. Why skip this step for your content strategy?
Today, we are super lucky to have a wealth of listening and monitoring tools at our fingertips. Most are geared toward social media presence, brand monitoring, and reputation management.
But take it a step further: actively seek out the important nugget(s) that present themselves through the listening. Work the tools, push some limits, and really get to the value of actively putting your chosen tool to work for you.
The nuggets, the connections, the findings that appear from taking the extra step…those are what can inform marketers about what their audiences and customers really want to know, what they are talking about, and where the holes are. The nuggets take work, but the end-results are priceless when compared to a flawed, misguided, or ill-informed content strategy.
Find the NOT
I have used monitoring tools in the past, like Hootsuite and Radian6 (pre-Salesforce integration. Did I just date myself?); here at SME Digital, we currently use Netbase. What these various listening and monitoring tools do is give us the ability to see the actual conversations happening across channels about a specific topic or brand.
Seeing the actual conversations is super important. Again, this takes work, but there is no room for assumptions or guesses here.
Not only do we learn what people actually want to learn about, read, or consume, but we also learn what NOT to write about. Learning what topics to NOT touch on can be invaluable.
We recently had a client who was very excited about trying out a branded hashtag campaign, but we discovered that the hashtag they had selected was presently a hot button topic; this could have quickly gone horribly wrong. By evaluating the sentiment around the hashtag, we were able to help the client find a more positive direction.
We can even learn a bit more about the true customer base. Turns out, your actual customers do not necessarily align with your target customers. And that’s a finding worth every bit of your work and research.
Additionally, leadership can get stuck on a specific topic that they feel must be covered. Listening can demonstrate if there is any real activity around that subject in the key demographic. Further, listening can help reveal what kind of language you should be using to really speak to your target.
Spending the up-front time listening and discovering what topics are actually of interest (instead of guessing at them) is not only fun (sooo fun), but also extremely enlightening. The industry talking heads spend loads of time telling us what the hot topics are…but (trust me) they aren’t always right (or even close).
Deep-dive listening and dot-connecting will absolutely reveal surprises, and that is where you can shine. So take the time to shine. Participate in the real conversation, create content that hits the numerous sweet spots that you uncover, and stop wasting your time guessing.
Bonus: If you’re having a hard time being inspired, sitting in the middle of the larger, real-time conversation will absolutely help you find your mojo.
Bottom line: Whether you use Netbase or a different tool, have a credible, qualitative source to point to that validates your content and content-recommendations. Then, demonstrate the “why” to leadership with facts, not assumptions.