Knowing your audience is the starting point for any successful #contentmarketing initiative. @neilpatel

At Liquid, we’ve certainly found this to be the truth. Our marketing strategy involves the following steps. It all starts with getting to know your audience and their wants and needs.

Listen First

And after you distribute? Well then you’re all ears all over again.

So let’s get started.

Ready? Here’s What You Should Listen For

There is a lot of conversation happening online. On Facebook alone, there are 18 million status updates shared every hour. You’ll need to pick and choose which types of posts and comments you are most interested in.

Consider the following questions and ask yourself, “Which would I most like to answer?”

  1. What are people saying about your brand? Your products and services? Your customer service?
  2. What are your competitors up to? Did they make any recent announcements? Launch a new product? What are people saying about your competitors?
  3. Who is talking about your company, your products, or your industry who has influence?
  4. What should you be sharing via your social media channels? What hashtags are trending? On which social media channels is there relevant conversation happening that you could be joining?
  5. What topics should you cover on your blog? Is there additional content you need to add to your site as part of your upcoming website redesign?  

The types of searches you conduct will be dependent on which of the above questions you’re most interested in answering.

If it’s your online reputation you’re curious about, you’ll want to search for mentions of your company’s name. If you’re interested in improving your content marketing efforts, maybe by way of revamping your blog, you’ll be more interested in mentions of industry-specific topics and trends.

But How the Heck Do You Do It?

Now that you know why you should be all ears and what you’re going to try to pick up on, let’s talk about how.

Start by compiling a list of words and phrases that are important to you, based on your goals. A great way to ensure you won’t miss a word or phrase is by using this Keyword Tool.

Pro tip: People, especially on social media, post and comment the way they talk. Take this into account when compiling the list of words and phrases you’re going to search for. Consider other variations of the words and phrases, such as different tenses or misspellings.

You then want to think about where you’re going to search for these keywords. In editorial content? In conversation on social media?  

A Google search is a great way to get started. Using the search functions on social channels like Twitter and YouTube are another viable option when you’re just starting out.

Gluten Free Twitter Feed

There are also a number of free tools that can get you started.

And of course, we can’t forget the when.

Consider the timeframe that you’re going to be searching within.

In most cases, searching for the most recent mentions of your brand, your products or services, your competitors or terms within your industry will be of the most value to you. However, historical data may also be of interest in a number of cases.

Pro Tip: Do you run an annual event? Take a look at conversation and media coverage surrounding last year’s event. You may find opportunities to improve the event based on what attendees said the previous year.

So You’ve Found Some Posts and Comments of Interest. Now What?

It’s time to talk content creation and distribution.

So what did you find?

  • Was there a frequently asked question about the use of your product? Answer the question by creating “how to” content for your site.
  • Did you identify a few hashtags that social media users are including in posts related to your industry? Hashtag away.
  • Maybe you got insight into words or phrases that are frequently associated with your brand. (Are people mentioning that they love having a craft beer while smoking your cigars?) That sounds like an opportunity to create content which associates the two ideas. (Did someone say cigar and beer pairings?)
  • Are people asking for more information on a certain topic in your industry? Give the people what they want!

You may have found some things you expected, and some things you didn’t. But that’s the fun of it, right?

Monitoring online conversations may have taught you what to say; you now need to think about how to say it.

Choose a type of content that you can realistically sustain. Consider some of the following.

  1. Articles and blog posts are the most obvious and common, and should definitely be a core part of your messaging.
  2. Case studies and testimonials are good ways to show proof of how you’ve solved someone’s problem in your business.
  3. Guides and videos work really well in demonstrating how your business understands a pain point and can address it, tutorial fashion.
  4. Images and illustrations are quickly becoming the most sharable types of content, and work great on most social media platforms.
  5. Infographics tell a story visually and can be based on any blog post you’ve already written.
  6. Microsites are mini websites that allow you to direct your message on one specific customer type.

Thinking a written format is your best bet? Here are some formatting tips you’ve just gotta keep in mind.

  1. Avoid the mind-numbing wall of text by writing shorter paragraphs, including subheadings, and featuring images throughout the body
  2. Tell a story
  3. Be human by using “I,” “me,” and “you”
  4. Add facts and proof
  5. Include calls to action

Bottom line: You best make your article, blog or guide reader-friendly.

Reader-Friendly

How Are People Going to Find This Stuff?

We recommend you go by the 20/80 rule, and that is: Spend 20% of your time creating the content and 80% of your time promoting it. Not everyone is going to find your blog post organically, or land on your last YouTube video by chance.

Our best piece of advice when it comes to sharing your content? Repurpose it!

The content from one blog post can be shared via Facebook and multiple times via Twitter; it can be illustrated in an infographic, explained via a YouTube video, be expanded upon into a whitepaper, and shared from a different point of view in a second blog post.

Your Latest Article

The possibilities are endless.

So How’d You Do?

Analyze your efforts, analyze your efforts, analyze your efforts. Did I mention you need to analyze your efforts?

Prior to running promotions, creating content, monitoring conversations online, or even reading this blog post, you need to establish what digital marketing metrics are important to you.  

Creating a baseline report, with a focus on these metrics, is a best practice when getting started with any new digital marketing efforts. That way, whether it’s weeks or months from now, you’ll have something to compare to.

Still determining which metrics you’d like to track as part of your listen-first marketing program? Revisit those questions you asked yourself – and hopefully answered – at the beginning of this post. Here’s some examples.

  • Was it your online reputation you were initially interested in? Are you seeing more positive mentions of your brand after your efforts?
  • Maybe aligning with an influencer in your industry was a goal of yours. Did you have luck not only identifying influencers, but also getting them to engage with you or your product or service?

Pro Tip: You may only be putting together a report for the boss on a quarterly basis. But, you should still be monitoring these metrics on a regular basis.

Here at Liquid, we’re in various analytics platforms on a daily basis, making micro decisions about which social posts to replicate based on the amount of engagement they received or which keywords to continue bidding on. We’ll dive into our approach to analytics more in our next Lunch & Learn @ Liquid.

What Else?

Watch the video recording of the presentation.

Start planning what type of content you should create with the help of Liquid’s Content Worksheet.

Download our Guide to Listen-first Marketing infographic for your desk or to share with coworkers.

Download our presentation to help you follow along with recording, and to ensure that those dating tips really stick with you!

Mark your calendars. The focus of the Q2 Lunch & Learn @ Liquid was primarily on the “Listen” step of our Listen-first marketing approach as well as on effective content creation and distribution. Next quarter, we’ll focus on how to accurately analyze the impact of your efforts – a step that is of utmost importance to any marketing effort. Stay tuned.

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Emily Massaro

About Emily Massaro

Emily is a Digital Marketing Strategist at Liquid, working with internal teams to build comprehensive digital marketing strategies for our clients. Main areas of focus for Emily include media monitoring, social media strategy, and email marketing. Emily also manages the Digital Marketing Department’s internship program – giving tomorrow’s experts their first taste of agency life.

Published Jun 07, 2016