Successful content marketers don’t just “hear” the trends in their industry, they listen to the market and tailor their strategies accordingly. Typically, those trends are heard via conference chatter, online searches, and influencer predictions. The advent of social listening tools has since streamlined that process and opened up new channels for marketers to tap into their customers, prospects, and the industry’s wants and needs. Then, marketers are able to leverage data to inform their ongoing content strategies.
Social listening tools have typically been lumped into the social monitoring aspect of marketing. The idea is to monitor conversations in social media for mentions of your brand so you can respond in a timely manner and improve your customers’ experience. But what if marketers expanded the view they’re monitoring to not only include themselves but also their customers, industry peers, partners, influencers, and competition?
Could they analyze that data, predict the trends (or at least stay on top of them), and build an evolving content strategy that highly engages their audience? The answer is yes, they can, and here’s how.
If you want to know what will resonate with your audience, first you need to understand the industry and how your audience is talking about the macro topics. For example, if we wanted to understand the chatter around BYOD and the consumerization of IT, we could build a query that includes all the buzzwords we think our audience is using when they talk about these two topics. That query will result in a set of data that is somewhat useless until we refine it.
Drill down into the results and remove the terms that are not relative or are producing skewed results. The end goal is to provide a rich data source that is hyper-relevant to our macro topics. From there we may find that the majority of our audience, when they are talking about BYOD, are also talking employee productivity. That’s a lead for the smart content marketer.
By expanding your query to include all things “BYOD” and “employee productivity,” we narrow in on only those conversations. Then it’s easy to view the key influencers talking about this topic, major publications writing about it, videos involving the idea, etc. Use this data to determine whether it’s a topic that fits your content strategy. If it is, how do you approach it? You don’t want to reiterate what’s been said, but rather provide a unique POV on the subject.
After following these leads a few times, you’ll start to understand what the micro topics are within each macro theme. These become your content ideas. Ideas that continuously show up in your results and remain unanswered by great content are incredible opportunities to publish thought leadership and steer the conversation.
Run your query at least once a week. Continue to refine the query and question the results until you get the insights you’re looking for. Don’t be afraid to chase ideas that seem out of the box. You never know what your audience is relating to these topics. Finding something unique, latching onto it, and owning the conversation is how you capitalize on a trend.
Beyond looking at your content metrics, the same social listening tools can be used to track your effectiveness in reaching your audience. The results of your query can be quantified as the total volume of conversations around that specific macro topic. Using that data, you can measure the number of conversations you were able to impact through your content. The result is a percentage of conversation volume. This is a great way to measure the effectiveness of your thought leadership.
Social listening tools are one method for tracking and measuring conversations about macro topics, but the key is to be creative. Don’t look past those strange insights—chase them down and truly understand how your audience is speaking about a given idea. Leverage those insights to craft the story of your content so that it speaks directly to them.
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