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How to Improve Content Performance by Boosting Relevance

Authors: India White India White
Posted Under: Content Marketing
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How to Improve Content Performance by Boosting Relevance

We live in a content world driven by the attention economy. With an abundance of channels available, it’s easier than ever to reach our audience, but it’s more difficult than ever before to grab their attention. Marketers are always looking for new ways to optimize their content and place it where their ideal consumer will find it.

Creating content and distributing it is something almost anyone can do. As a content strategist, when I stumble across a piece of content (that I wasn’t looking for) that I love, I want to reach out to the content team behind that piece to hug them and say, “Thank you, and congratulations!” To do this—to create the right content that resonates with the ideal persona within your target audience and place it where they want to see it—you need relevance.

At Affinio, we believe in relevance so much that we created a way to measure it. Why? Because if you aren’t relevant, you’re irrelevant. If your content isn’t relevant in context, timing, and delivery, is it effective? Probably not. Let’s explore a few ways that you can increase content resonance with relevance.

Increasing Relevance With Data

Many content creators will use personas to help guide content strategy. This is a great way to stay on track and avoid chasing shiny objects. While these can be useful at a high-level, most of the time, they lack the detail to be effective at an execution level. Let’s go beyond basic demographic data and broad assumptions about “pain points” and challenges. Let’s look at what interest-based segmentation data can tell us about personas within an audience.

For this example, I analyzed the audience of one of my favourite shows, CXOTalk. (If you haven’t heard of it, I recommend you check it out. Michael Krigsman interviews some of the world’s top business leaders on leadership, innovation, and disruption.) To run the analysis, we analyzed CXOTalk’s entire audience. Affinio looks at the billions of network connections that exist within the audience, then segments them into naturally-occurring clusters based on interest patterns (who they follow). Here is how the CXOTalk audience broke out: Affinio Audience Analysis

As you can see, each one of these clusters can be thought of as a different target persona. Let’s learn how we could create relevant content by learning more about one of these clusters through understanding their interests, the content they consume and share, and how they self-describe.

When creating relevant content, the first thing to understand is what these individuals are already interested in. Let’s take a look at who the top thought leaders are and where this community goes to get industry-specific information.

The Top Interests of the CIO Cluster

Top CIO Interests
Click image to download list of interests

Top thought leaders in this industry include:

  1. Kim Stevenson: VP and Chief Information Officer (CIO), Intel Corp
  2. Martha Heller:   Author of The CIO Paradox
  3. Mike Kail: Chief Technology Officer at Cybric
  4. Susan Kellogg: Associate Vice Chancellor of IT & Deputy CIO at UNC Chapel Hill
  5. Jay Ferro: Chief Information & Product Officer at EarthLink
  6. Vala Afshar: Chief Digital Evangelist at Salesforce
  7. Gerri Flickinger: CTO of Starbucks
  8. Will Weider: CIO Ministry Health Care
  9. Lee Congdon: CIO  of Ellucian
  10. David Bray: CIO of Federal Communication Commission

This list represents the top 10 people that this community goes to for thought leadership. They may not know each other, but these are the people that are recognized as leaders in the CIO community. If you were creating content to target this community, keeping a pulse on these leaders by monitoring what they are talking about and sharing will give you a shortcut to what is relevant to them right now. To get the full list of interests, click on the image above.

Top Sources of Information

  1. CIO Online
  2. CIO Magazine
  3. Gartner
  4. Enterprise CIO Forum
  5. CIO Insight
  6. CIO Executive Council
  7. CIO Dashboard
  8. Forrester
  9. CIO Journal
  10. Search CIO

These top sources are where CIOs go to get industry research and information. When creating content to reach these people, check out what these top sources are writing about. It will help you create relevant content that this community is already interested in.

Now we have a solid base of sources to gather information on what content is already relevant to this community, and by listening to and engaging with the thought leaders, you will know what themes are emerging.

The second part in creating relevant content is talking the talk. Let’s take a look at what communication is familiar to this community, so that we can match our tone and language to what is relevant to them.

Top Hashtags Used by CIO Community

Top Hashtags Used by CIOs

Here are the top hashtags that CIOs used over the past 30 days. You can import this list into your social listening platform to further understand what this community is talking about. You can also integrate these relevant hashtags into your social promotion strategy by using them when promoting your content.

Top Links Shared by CIOs

  1. CIOs Get Stature in Digital Economy
  2. Can we achieve a better, more effective digital workplace?
  3. Ready or Not, Here IoT Comes
  4. Five questions boards should ask about IT in a digital world
  5. Summer 2016 Book List for CIOs & IT Pros

These links give you an idea of the titles that are attracting their attention and the content that compels this community to share.

Now that you know who the top thought leaders are, CIOs top sources of industry information, the language they are familiar with, and the articles that ignite them to engage, let’s learn more about the individuals.

To get a better idea of who these people are, let’s take a look at how they self-describe and where they are located.


Top Bio Keywords

Top Bio Keywords of CIOs

Gender and Age

Demographics of CIOs


CIO Locations

While this information doesn’t really add a ton of value to your content strategy, it’s always important to have the most information possible when trying to make meaningful connections with an audience. For instance, in this case, a large portion of the CIO community is located in the UK. If this is a geo-target for you, be sure to include stories, excerpts, and examples that are relevant to the UK.

This data arms you with the right information to create relevant content that resonates with this community. While a lot of the content that you create will live on owned assets, you will also be vying for earned and paid opportunities.

The final and crucial part to getting your content seen is to place it where it counts. The industry information sources above would be the most relevant places, but you can also reach this community outside of the CIO world. Give your PR team a head start with a list of top media sources. Or, if you’re looking to purchase native ads or do sponsored content, here’s a cheat sheet for reaching this elite group of CIOs.

Top Media Sources for CIOs


In today’s content shock environment, content strategy needs to rely more on personalization and relevance. Putting in the work upfront to understand your audience (who they are, what they are interested in, the content they already consume and share, etc.) will increase your content performance and brand image.

What do you do to ensure your content is relevant? Let me know in the comments below!

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