Posted on October 14th, 2014
The demand for desirable content that connects customers with brands is nothing new, but its mammoth progression, especially online, has left some marketers squeezed for content ideas. Many of us understand the need to develop fantastic content that excites customers, builds brand affinity, engages and drives customer acquisition, but how do we generate a never-ending stream of new stories that resonates with our customers? By listening to our audiences.
Marketers can easily leverage online brand chatter, reputation monitoring and customer feedback through online and offline avenues to develop some of the most covetable content that helps boost your bottom line. By tapping your customers for stories, you’ll be on a path to creating content that conquers its revenue-driving mission.
With the advent of social media and the seemingly limitless other venues for customers to share reviews, solicit buying help, discuss engineering challenges, where they should travel to, etc., the opportunities are endless to gather ideas and stay abreast of what is affecting your customers, giving you the opportunity to create great and targeted content that fulfills their needs.
There are a variety of places to search online to find valuable conversations surrounding your brand. Some of the best places to mine for comments are the big social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and Google+. You’ll primarily be focusing on reactive management, or listening to customers who have had a recent interaction with your business and have shared their experience. This brings about a great opportunity to listen for consistent themes, common occurrences or recurring questions.
While it’s vital to monitor your brand online from a reputation management standpoint, it can also serve another purpose. Listening real time can help you develop content ideas that address the most pertinent topics to your customer. We’ve discussed tools that tackle reputation monitoring in depth before, so we’ll skip the deep dive on tools today and highlight how you can leverage listening.
For example, if you notice customers sharing a similarly poor user experience with your product, say connecting their Bluetooth-enabled phone to your device, it’s probably a good indication that a how-to guide or blog post published on your site that addresses the issue would perform quite well. This could be an opportunity to develop a 30-second video, publish it on your blog and share in forums where the issue may languish and be easily found in search.
This is especially useful during new product launches to discover how existing marketing content might not be answering all user questions. When you launch a new product, it’s essential to monitor mentions to catch the common questions that potential buyers pose.
For B2B organizations, forums can be a goldmine for content ideas. They are vital places to learn your audience’s pain points and how you might be able to address them. For example, if individuals are confused about a service feature connected to your device, this might be great time to leverage PR and social to drive clearer key messages that address this confusion.
We’ve witnessed this issue while supporting the launch of an industry-disrupting digital device. Questions regarding the software services were popping up in industry forums and across social sites such as LinkedIn groups. We monitored for coverage by inputting keywords into monitoring tools like Sysomos, Talkwalker Alerts, etc.
We also had to manually scrape conversations from firewalled forums. We’d deliver a weekly report with thread topics, prominent highlights, top comments and most importantly, opportunities to develop content that would answer the most common questions.
We worked with leading technology scientists, engineers and respected marketers to develop video Q&As, blog posts, newsletters, etc. We leveraged social, email and PR to push the content. With the help of high-authority social users, we drove the content even further within the communities where the questions were asked.
Tackling consumer questions early on helps avoid confusion. Without the right information, customers develop their own conclusions. Do you want to control the conversations around your brand, or let others dictate a potentially dangerous one? It’s easy to develop crowd-sourced content that provides answers along with solutions. This is where you think about the importance of shareability.
Content like infographics, short video clips and quick-to-the-point FAQ blog posts are easy for social users to spread among their fans and followers. You can utilize social tools like Sysomos Heartbeat or Wefollow to discover prominent people that might be able to share your message. But remember, don’t be gross when developing relationships with high-authority social users.
Another helpful tool is Wordtracker, which can help get your mind brewing new ideas around the keywords you are monitoring. It can be useful when you want to develop content that helps answer questions your users are searching for, especially the all-important long-tail keywords, as they have less competition for ranking.
For example, say you work for a consumer packaged-food company that wants to dominate the Greek yogurt conversation surrounding a new product launch. You could determine the most commonly searched long tails that include Greek yogurt. It could provide insight into developing content around Greek-yogurt-based dips. Otherwise, you might be developing content around toppings for Greek yogurt, which might not necessarily help you rank well.
In addition to creating owned content, it’s also important to remember that you should incorporate user-generated content (UGC) into your content strategy. It helps free up time and often it’s the most authentic way to connect with users and develop advocates of your brand. This is especially helpful for companies where users regularly come in physical contact with your brand, such as apparel, retail, hotels, events, etc. People love to share photos of themselves having fun. What makes them even more excited is when brands acknowledge them by Retweeting, sharing, and the like.
With the permission of your fans, you could develop a weekly recap or event recap blog post that highlights some of the best moments from a concert or festival, and then own it with a unique hash tag. Why develop a post from scratch when your customers are developing it for you? Make yourself the curator of these magical moments. You can guarantee those included in the recap will share with friends on social sites with exuberance. In addition, you’ve potentially just developed a loyal fan and customer for life.
While it’s important to develop a strategy around content, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need piles of data to help guide its creation. Some simple research can help lead to the most compelling content that feels authentic, answers top-of-mind questions and appeals to your customers. Stop developing all of your content by repurposing marketing messages; create content that people actually want to read.