Every content marketer is on the lookout for ways to expand and engage a target audience. While you’re probably aware that listening skills are a key concept in effective verbal communication, you may not know that the same rules apply for content marketing and social media. Some of your best content will be inspired by the interests and concerns of your customers. But how do you know if your social listening tactics are helping or hindering your content marketing strategy?
To help you start engaging your audience on their terms, here are three ways to integrate social listening into your everyday content marketing workflow.
1. Use Social Media for Proactive Audience Engagement
It’s important to keep an eye out for people discussing your brand on social media. This ensures that you don’t miss any questions a customer might have, or a problem they may need solved.
Set up Twitter search streams for your official @username, any hashtags associated with your brand, and use your brand name as a search keyword. Not everyone may remember or spell the keyword correctly, so it helps to include any common misspellings in your search. You can set up these streams directly on Twitter’s web page, or using a Twitter client of your choice.
Listen up! 3 Ways to Integrate Social Listening into Your Content Marketing Strategy
Listening to brand mentions is not only helpful for proactive customer service, but it also helps you create content your social media audience cares about. For example, if you are looking for user-driven content, check if there’s more than one person talking about the same product or service your company offers. If there are a lot of questions surrounding one aspect your brand, it can result in a how-to guide, or an in-depth explanation of why your team chooses to do things in a certain way.
Your audience will appreciate the attention in a personal response, and the positive feedback loop between your audience’s concerns and your content will help improve communication with customers.
2. Check Out the Competition
Another crucial aspect of social listening for any brand is to be aware of what’s going on in your field. This means keeping in touch with the work of your competitors, as well as the latest news relevant to your business.
Keeping tabs on your competitors doesn’t just mean knowing what they do on social media. Instead, see if your competitor’s customers have any unanswered questions, or service requests that you can use to improve your business. Track the mentions of your competition the same way you track your own (as we have just explained in #1). You can address the issues raised by your competitor’s customers in your content campaigns by anticipating similar issues for your brand, or explaining why your brand is a superior choice.
Staying on top of the latest trends can also help you produce content relevant to your audience. For example, if the Content Marketing Institute comes out with new research that may be relevant to your audience, you can plan content that sums up the study results and/or applies those results to your own product. This demonstrates your ability to provide insightful comment on issues important to your audience.
3. Find Your Biggest Fans and Tailor Content to Their Interests
Finally, here is the most intricate social media monitoring trick in the book, and this one requires several steps.
First, you need to find the biggest fans of your brand. You can do this with free online tools such as Social Mention or AnaTweet, which give you a list of top users talking about your brand.
Then, figure out which users have the most influence and farthest reach on social media. This can be done by checking the users’ Klout score—an analytics tool that correlates content created by the user with other users’ interaction with that content, relative to the size of the user’s social network.
Once you’ve identified the most influential and loyal members of your social media audience, you need to find out what interests them. Clearly, they’re already fans of your brand—otherwise they wouldn’t be sharing your content. You can use this advantage to tailor your content to their interests. In order to find out what your followers are into, you can use a social media analytics tool Nexalogy, which draws interest maps based on conversations in the users’ news feed.
Let’s use an example to illustrate the process. Say you’ve isolated the top five users who regularly share your content. Next, you analyze their Twitter feeds, and find out that all of them have also shared content related to Tour de France. You can now brainstorm ideas about content relating your brand to a Tour de France event in a clever and engaging way. Once the content is published and promoted on social media, your top followers will see two favorite topics in their feed, and now you can sit back and watch the retweets and mentions roll in.
Whatever social media practices you choose to adopt for your content marketing strategy, remember to use the following simile as a rule of thumb: use social media presence like a telephone, not a megaphone. Make communication with your social media audience a two-way street, and a personal approach will guarantee better engagement.