How to Use Research to Create Content That Works

Tom Webster, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing at Edison Research, stops by the Content Pros Podcast today to discuss strengthening content with trusted research as well as remembering to be curious, and create content you are proud of to resonate with your audience.

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Full Episode Details

Research to Resonate

Tom Webster is a man of many talents. He is a music maven and saucier. He co-authored The Mobile Commerce Revolution with Tim Hayden, a book not about mobile technology, but about mobile behavior. Today, he talks with Content Pros primarily as the VP of Strategy and Marketing at Edison Research.

Edison Research is a custom market research company, solving problems for clients by figuring out their audience. (They are best known for being the sole providers of exit poll data for news networks during elections since 2003.)

The information they provide becomes the content that networks use to entertain and inform their audiences.

There are plenty of people out there who will put up a link and say, “Hey, take my survey,” and then make an infographic stating statistics. Content marketers should know better than to do that or use those faulty numbers.

To actually be helpful, Tom hopes, “Content marketers who are serious about their trade will do the work, do the due diligence to source these numbers to analyze them correctly, and actually help their readers and their audience.

That’s the only way to stand out among the rest.

“When you have 80% of the players at the poker table essentially playing the same game, it gets harder and harder to win.”

Edison measures their success by how often the phone rings (not the most scientific method, but it works). Their clients have their own metrics for success, whether they are looking to grow social presence, awareness, or something else, so strategies change depending on what the client wants. But for Edison as a business, when their research gets picked up by mainstream media, whether offline or on, and places like eMarketer and Statista, that’s when their phone rings.

One thing Tom (and everyone at Edison) prides himself on is finding the “spicy meatball” within data.

“You can’t just do research for research’s sake. You also have to think through what would surprise people to the positive. What, if true, would challenge conventional wisdom?

Tom gets fired up any time Edison can create new facts. Their Share of Ear report, which measured all forms of online and offline audio intake, is an example of some of the groundbreaking work Edison does. The Infinite Dial, an ongoing survey of digital media consumption that began in 1998, is continuously discovering new trends and patterns.

One trend that is coming back around is the desire for content that is more than a one-and-done piece. “There is a renewed interest in thought leadership, and providing thought leadership that is not simply viral, but will have some legs to it. A lot of the content that we are being hired to help produce is designed to be real, flagship, pillar content and not, ‘Oh, I need a blog post.'”

Take a strategic approach to figuring out what you’re good at and what your audience wants to hear from you, and go from there.

Tom encourages content marketers to create pillar content by always asking yourself, “Is this content that you are proud of?” Content needs to challenge, entertain, or come from genuine expertise.  If you can hit at least one of those three every time, your content is going to resonate with your audience.

Bonus: Oracle & Edison Research Holiday Shopping Study

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When he was very young, Tom wanted to be a scientist. Later, he wanted to be a professor, getting an undergraduate degree and pursuing graduate work in English. Eventually he got an MBA, and the rest is history.

Watch the visual notetaking experience by Stephanie Crowley at Chrysalis Studios:

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