Strategic content creation is a constant challenge for bloggers. The quantity of articles matters (don’t try to tell me otherwise), the quality does as well, and, most of all, it’s the topic relevance that brings all the readers to your backyard.
Ideally, you don’t just want any readers. You want the ones that are potentially interested in your product or service. You want your “buyer persona” to read all of your articles and at some point just give up and pay you already. This means that you have to know what your target audience wants to read about.
Yet the information we have on our buyers and potential buyers is very limited. We might have an idea of their gender, age group, or socio-economic status, but what we don’t know is which topics they are interested in and which trends they follow.
Social listening is a hack that helps you with that challenge. In this article, we’ll break down the “why” and “how” of creating content strategy with the help of social listening.
There is also another challenge that content managers and their colleagues face regularly: content promotion. Getting the content, no matter how amazing, out in the open isn’t as easy as you might imagine. And social listening can help with that, too. So the first question we shall answer is,
What is social listening?
Social listening, or social media monitoring (these terms are commonly interchanged in the articles), is the process of finding mentions of any given keywords on social media.
A keyword can be anything, but usually it is a brand, a product (e.g., the name of the book), a company, or a person (e.g., the author of the book, CEO, Prime Minister). Social media includes social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.), news, blogs, and forums. Sometimes, it also includes the rest of the web.
Social listening is done by a social listening (or social media monitoring) tool. The tools range from free solutions that provide the user with a vague idea of how often a keyword appears online, to the big data monsters that analyse the hell out of every mention they find. Here are some examples of what you may find in the relatively large market of social listening tools.
Awario is a social media monitoring app most suitable for small to mid-sized businesses. It monitors all major social media platforms, news sites, blogs, forums, and the web. It has a Boolean search option that allows for complicated and detailed queries, and a specific module for leads search on social media.
Awario analytics provide visual representations that show mentions’ growth, reach (calculated as the theoretical number of followers that may potentially read a specific mention), sentiment (positive, negative, neutral), topics that circulate around mentions, relevant social media influencers, and so on.
Pricing plans start at $29/month. Free 14-day trial available.
Brandwatch is one of the oldest and most powerful social media monitoring tools on the market. It monitors all social media platforms, including the most niche, as well as blogs, forums, news sites, and the web. If there’s a site that doesn’t seem to be monitored by Brandwatch, you can request it and they’ll add it. The tool monitors images, which can be necessary for companies that track the use of their logo.
Brandwatch analytics shows mentions’ growth and sentiment; authors’ demographics and psychographics; industry trends, and other valuable insights.
The pricing is only available upon request.
Hopefully, now you have a clear idea of what social listening is. Here’s a more extensive list of social listening tools just in case.
How can social listening help?
Now onto how it can help you and your content strategy. The idea behind using social listening for content creation is to know your target audience better, get topic ideas from your them, and maybe even involve them in creating content.
1. Monitor your brand/product on social media
People voice their opinions about everything on Twitter. And Facebook. And Instagram. Oh, and don’t forget Reddit, the front page of the Internet. Your content strategy is doomed to have dozens of articles about your product. Why then instead of guessing what your customers would like to know about the product, you just look for the issues that have already been raised?
Monitoring your brand and/or your product returns social media posts that ask questions about the brand, give feedback, and comment on it with ideas and suggestions.
Questions that appear most often will give you a dozen ideas for how-to articles. Comparisons that you’ll see most often (e.g., “Which one is better, <your brand> or brand X?”) will give you ideas for SEO-optimized comparison articles. Some feedback (e.g., on how people use your product, what they like and dislike) will provide you with further writing inspiration.
2. Monitor your industry on social media
There are extensive, passionate conversations about everything on social media. Whether you’re selling an SEO software or a cheese flavoured ice-cream, there will be a Twitter chat and a lengthy Reddit convo dedicated to that topic.
Monitoring your industry makes you aware of your industry trends: you always know what it is that your target audience is into right now. And you are one of the first to know, too, because most trends begin on social media.
Jumping on the hype and writing about a popular topic that is also related to your industry is bound to bring you traffic and conversions.
3. Monitor your competitors
Your competitors don’t sleep. Big and powerful, they are getting familiar with your target audience and will soon come up with a content strategy based on their own research.
While this might sound overly dramatic, it’s true that your competitors have some good content ideas. Monitoring what content they post will give you insights into their blog activity, external activity, and social media activity. Content ideas, as well as an instant understanding of how these ideas worked out for your competitor, will be at your fingertips.
4. Find your industry influencers
As I mentioned before, some social listening tools have a built-in influencer search tool. That’s what you’ll definitely need: knowing your industry influencers will open up new horizons for your content strategy and promotion.
You’ll see which topics influencers cover, how much attention the topics attract, what kind of attention it is – positive or negative. Getting new ideas from your industry influencers and collaborating with them with the goal to exchange content is crucial for content strategy and content promotion.
5. Find outreach opportunities
Social listening doesn’t stop at social media. A number of tools cover blogs and news sites, which is useful if you’re in search of bloggers and journalists interested in your content.
Monitoring your brand, your competitors, and your industry on blogs and news sites will give you a list of resources to reach out to. The reasons behind this are simple: if the author has already talked about your brand, they probably won’t mind reading something directly from you. If the author has published your competitors’ content, they will probably welcome your point of view as well, not to appear biased. Finally, you should definitely appear on the blog posts that talk extensively about your industry.
Content marketing, while being undoubtedly effective, drains resources. To avoid burning out or spending all the budget on freelance writers, you need all the help you can get. Social listening is that help. New ideas, new topics, new formats, and new ways to promote are all in there: you just have to start monitoring.
About the author
Aleh Barysevich is Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Link-Assistant.Com, the company that makes the SEO PowerSuite website promotion toolkit. Aleh is a seasoned SEO expert, speaker at SMX and BrightonSEO, author at Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, Social Media Examiner, and more. Connect with Aleh on Twitter @ab80.