Two social media trends from 2012 that will continue in 2013 are the use of social media listening for more than just brand mentions, and the importance of content marketing to connect with customers and prospects on the social web. This seems like the perfect combination of ideas to strengthen the use of both. Let’s look at some of the ways you can use social media listening to support and improve your content marketing.
You can implement any of these ideas whether you use a listening tool like Salesforce Marketing Cloud or a free tool, but aggregating data and identifying trends will be manual and more difficult using free tools.
1. Listen to Your Customers
Your existing customers are a huge part of your online audience and you should create content targeted to them. Identify customer social accounts, as well as the social accounts of individuals who work at that customer’s company. What kinds of things are important to them? What kinds of content do they pass along? What are common sources of content they share? Are they asking questions about your products or your competitors’ products? These are some of your content drivers. If you know what is important to them, or understand some of their pain points, you can address them with your content. Simple solutions can be offered in blog posts, while more in-depth topics can be addressed in ebooks and webinars. Common support questions can be shared on FAQ pages, too.
2. Listen to Your Prospects
If you are using social media to attract new customers, especially for B2B companies, one of the best ways to do it is through content. While understanding your existing customers is a good source of content that is also relevant to your prospects, there may be unique conversations that your prospects are having with their social connections. Identify key prospects on social networks, and again, not just the companies, but the people who work there, and listen to them. What are the things they talk about that are unrelated to your products? If your prospects are constantly talking about sports, you can create some content with a sports-related theme to improve the connection.
3. Listen to Your Competitors
How does your content support your points of differentiation against your top competitors? It’s one thing to audit their content on their website and social channels for a one-time snapshot, but if you listen to company accounts and individuals’ accounts, you will gain some insight into what they’re talking about. Can your content provide a better platform for thought leadership based on your marketing position? This is not a me-too exercise, but the more you know about what’s on your competitors’ minds, the better you are able to speak to customers and prospects through content in ways that position your products and services against competitors.
4. Discover New Industry Trends
As you expand your listening profile to include more industry terms, you will start to see patterns emerge based on conversation volumes, what influencers are talking about, and how the social conversations compare to trade and mainstream media conversation. The trends from this aggregated data could be the first indication that things are changing in your industry. And in some industries it could be helpful to know that things are not changing. Sharing this kind of market intelligence is an ideal form of content, as it can spread well beyond your own networks.
5. Monitor Published Content
Tracking success of your content can be done in a variety of ways, although the best way is to track it against meeting your goals. If you are using content to generate leads, your success is ultimately measured by the leads you generate. And nothing else. But on your way to meeting those goals with your content, you need to understand how your content is shared, and spreads, so you can optimize to reach the right target audience. Monitoring headlines, keywords and URLs are one way to monitor your published content. Another way is to connect your web analytics to your listening tool which could tie social posts directly to conversions.
6. Discover New Platforms
And finally, social media listening helps you discover new social media platforms that are resonating with your audience. If you pay attention to the social media insider bubble, you likely heard about the short video platform called Vine launched by Twitter last week. But you may work in an industry where nobody is talking about this at all. This can help you understand how quickly you need to jump on new platforms. Finding industry blogs and forums through audience targeted listening can be a good source for content ideas and content to curate, as well as providing new opportunities to share your content.