About a year ago, I wrote a guest post here titled “Use Online Listening for Competitive Research. The post explored the topic of utilizing common interactive marketing tools in unintended ways to tap into consumer demand. Not unlike traditional surveys, keyword research and social data mining tools tell a powerful story about the information target audiences want from organizations, on-and-offline.
In the time that’s passed since that post, my colleagues and I have tested and refined the concept and methodology with our clients. In doing so, we’ve learned that findings resulting from search and social data mining are incredibly handy for informing creative and content, improving relevance and impact. In today’s post, it’s my pleasure to share some content relevance tips I’ve learned along the way.
It’s Time to Put Content Strategy First, Shiny Objects Second
Until recently, interactive marketing tactics and techniques, bells and whistles, and new online tools often outshone smart, targeted messaging.
Now, the rules are changing, and noteworthy, quality content is the future of online marketing success. While alterations to search algorithms are helping to bring this to fruition, social media has been the real game-changer, placing the power of relevance distinction in the hands of the consumers. This allows (mandates, even) the cream to naturally rise to the top. Sure, digital magic tricks still influence results and always will, but they can no longer do so alone, and the only sure-fire way to win is to supply great content to meet demand.
Pre-Strategy, Defining Content Demand
So how do you figure out what content consumers want? Easy – you listen! When I say relevant content, I’m referring to content that meets consumers’ demand for it in messaging and form. Through their inquiries for, and conversations about content, the public is telling us what they want online in record volume, and nearly in real time. All you need is a keyword research tool and access to about any social media monitoring tool to listen and improve your content creation efforts. Here’s what you should be listening for by source:
- What keyword research tells us: how content consumers speak (vernacular), what content consumers want (phrase categorization), and in what volume (category prioritization)
- What social media research tells about the identified search keyword phrases: what types of content seekers want (media type), what the context of the conversation is (keyword meaning), the sentiment of the conversation (positive, negative, neutral), and where the conversation is happening (distribution needs)
5 Steps to Winning Fans with Content Strategy
Once you’ve collected this data, and analyzed it noting the attributes above, you can use the findings to improve your content’s relevance, and your online marketing results:
1. Speak as Your Target Audience Does
Use the vernacular the public uses as observed in search inquiries, confirms relevance and creates instant connection (ex. use “TV” over “television” in content and navigation)
2. Understand the Context of the Inquiry
Match the topic of the desired content as observed in social conversations with the keywords identified in search. This provides the information needed to craft the message (ex. create review content about the latest and greatest TVs)
3. Categorize and Prioritize the Interest
Sort the common search phrases by topic, and prioritize them by demand. This helps organize content and plan for creation topically (ex. meet the demand for HDTV interest over other types of TV content).
4. Package for Consumption
Observe what types of content social media users are interacting with and where. This helps inform the type of content that needs to be created, and where it should be distributed outside of the website (ex. prepare TV review content about HDTVs for twitter and blog comment distribution).
5. Plan for and Create Content According to Demand
Follow traditional content strategy planning steps, informing the effort based on demand and planning for results. This makes for both short and long-term success (ex. audit current content against demand, analyze the quality and type according to needed media, develop a plan to adjust current content and create needed content, and measure the results achieved).
Check out my Online Marketing Summit presentation below on this topic: