Posts Tagged ‘research’

Use Social Intelligence To Design Content Your Audience Wants

Content production and content marketing is key in today’s ‘attention economy’. There’s a reason that you keep hearing the phrase “content is king.” People are addicted to content, whether its writing, pictures, videos or more, people love sharing content, so it’s imperative to produce amazing pieces that resonate with your audience.

Companies need to almost be media companies these days in that they need to constantly be producing content from commercials to blog posts, photography to tweets, online videos to magazine ads and everything in between. But with so much content that needs to be produced, how do you know what’s going to work best?

The secret to creating great content that your audience is going to eat up is getting to really know them. And social intelligence is a great way to go about learning about your audience and what they want.

Discover how they like their content

We mentioned a lot of different kinds of content that people can be producing these days, but the truth is, you don’t have to be doing ALL of them. In fact, depending on your audience, you probably even shouldn’t be doing it all. What you should be doing is learning about which content is going to do the best job of bringing in your audience. This is a twofold process.

First, you want to start searching for your brand name or topics around your industry to discover where people are talking. You may find that these things are being talked about on just one social network or several. Whichever the case, the places where your brand or topics around it are being mentioned are the places you’re going to want to start exploring.

Sysomos Heartbeat - Activity Summary of Social Channels

Sysomos Heartbeat - Activity Summary of Social Channels Minus Twitter (digging deeper into other channels)

Second, when you’ve determined where the conversation is already happening it’s time to learn about HOW they’re happening. Each social network works differently and different topics do better in different forms on each of those networks. For example, you might find that on Twitter a lot of people are sharing pictures that relate to your brand, while on Facebook videos are much more popular. Doing research on what kind of content does well and where it does well will help you to determine what kind of content to create and the best places to use it.

Find what they’re interested in

Once you’ve determined what kind of content you should create, the next step is to actually start creating it. This is where things get a little more tricky, because you need to really figure out what content is going to resonate best with your audience. But it doesn’t have to be when social intelligence is on your side.

It’s a good assumption to start by believing that your audience has some kind of interest in your brand already. Now how can you figure what else they like so that you can tie it back to your brand? Again, the answer is with some research, and text analytics are always a great tool when trying to figure out what people are interested in.

Twitter is a great place to start because a lot of people will tell you right in their bio what they’re in to. Our Sysomos software has a great tool that will actually let you see a word cloud of your followers’ bios. By looking at something like this you can pick out themes that seem to stand out, meaning that a large population of your audience are likely also interested in and talking about the larger words in the word cloud. Below is a word cloud for @redbull‘s Twitter followers. We can see that some words that stand out in the word cloud include “sports,” “music” and “Instagram.” All of these things (plus more) are definitely subjects that Red Bull focuses a lot of their content on, and it makes sense, because we now know for sure it’s what their audience likes.

Sysomos MAP - Word Cloud of @redbull's Twitter Followers' Bios

But since Twitter isn’t the only place your audience might be, it important to explore other channels and see what people are talking about there. Just noticing what people are talking about around your industry can give you great ideas for what themes you should be focusing your content on. As an example, we pulled a buzzgraph to see what people were talking about around HBO on blogs over the past few weeks. No real surprise here, but we found that Game of Thrones has been a big topic around the company recently, so it makes sense that HBO is creating a lot of content around the show currently.

Sysomos Heartbeat - Buzzgraph of Talk Around HBO on Blogs

Using text analytics every few weeks across the channels that your audiences are most active in will give you a good idea of where their thoughts and interests are heading and you can constantly adjust your content to fit in with your audience every time you do this.

Create things that help

One other thing that we can recommend is to create content that helps your audience. People always appreciate content that helps them in some way or another. It doesn’t matter if you’re a software or a food company, you can always make something that helps or teaches your audience. The best part is that this type of content will usually keep your audience happy, satisfied with your brand and coming back for more.

As a software company ourselves, it’s very easy for us to produce helpful content. In fact, we have an entire portal within our Sysomos system (which is a place we know our audience is very active) dedicated to content around how people can understand and use our software better. Inside the portal we have a collection of both articles and videos (which are the two mediums we found our customers find easiest to consume) that help them to do their jobs better. We used our own software to determine what issues our customers were trying to solve with our software and then started to create content that is going to answer those questions for them.

Sysomos Support Portal

But not every company is a software company that can produce how-to content. That doesn’t mean that you still can’t be helpful to your audience. A great example of a brand creating content to help their audience is Chobani Greek Yogurt on their Pinterest page. No one really needs a how-to document on eating yogurt or an infographic on how to choose the flavor that’s right for you, but there’s more that people can do with yogurt outside of just eating it on it’s own.

That’s why on Chobani’s Pinterest page you can find a ton of recipes of other dishes that can be made using their yogurt. The company learned that their customers liked to cook and that people go to Pinterest to find recipes, so they made a place where they are able to help people create all kinds of fantastic dishes that incorporate their product. They’re helping their audience to be better all-around cooks and made sure that their brand was inserted into it. Content like this is very helpful to people and had a natural fit for their product. Start thinking about all the ways your  brand can help people.

Chobani's Pinterest Page of Recipes

All of these things above are ways that you can create content that is going to resonate with your audience. All it takes to get going is using a little bit of social intelligence to learn more about your audience and then creating the content that is going to work best with what you’ve found from your research.

Learn what your audience really wants from your content with Sysomos. Contact us to learn how.

McDonald’s® Canada Uses Social Data About Consumers To Tell Them About Themselves

As you might imagine, we’re pretty big fans of seeing people use interesting data to create great content. That’s why when we got word of how our client GolinHarris turned some research data into a full-blown social campaign, we had to share the story with you.

McDonald’s Canada wanted to promote their McCafé® Premium Roast Brewed Coffee. More specifically, through social media they wanted to raise awareness of their Free Coffee event  – where as you might have guessed, restaurants across the country give away free coffee to all their customers (which is going on now, just in case you live in Canada and are in need of a caffeine fix). So working with GolinHarris,they started to plan by doing what any smart professional would; research.

Using our Sysomos software, GolinHarris and McDonald’s Canada started to research how Canadian consumers talk about coffee through social media. During the process, they started to notice some interesting patterns in the stats they were seeing. Things like: Canadians talk about coffee on Wednesdays the most, or that March sees the largest amount of coffee talk in Canada while July sees the least.

All of this was really interesting data that they collected through social media to learn more about their target consumers, Canadian coffee drinkers, that they could use to plan out both their campaigns and their products.

But rather than keep this information internal, they started thinking about who else might like to know about some of their interesting findings. The answer was, of course, Canadian coffee drinkers. So they set about to create a fun way to share this information while promoting McCafé’s coffee and free coffee week.

The result is a series of what GolinHarris calls “infobytes.” Little single fact infographics that they can share through social media that will likely grab the attention of the coffee drinkers they’re targeting by showing them interesting data about themselves.

 

We thought this was a really clever idea. Use interesting data found through our Sysomos software about their target audience to actually intrigue and entice that same audience. The infobytes are nice looking too.

 McDonald's McCafe Infobyte

This just goes to show that data can be a powerful tool. It can not only help you to learn more about your audience, but it can also help to grab their attention. People love to see interesting data presented in an interesting way.

So, if you’re doing research, don’t always keep your findings to yourself. Use it to tell a story. You may just be surprised by who else finds it interesting and takes notice.

To see more of McDonald’s Canada’s infobytes check out their Twitter account.

Goodbye Surveys and Focus Groups

Social media can be many things, but its role as a powerful research tool can be overlooked.

Even as a marketer or PR practitioner, you should at least use it in this way, irregardless of any reluctance  to embrace social media as an engagement, sharing or publishing tool.

Beyond the facts it happens in real-time, social media is global and completely voluntary – key facts when considering its value and legitimacy as a research tool.

It is a great way to get insight into your competitors. You can see not only their campaigns but also their tactics and online personality. How they are connecting with their online audiences can be invaluable as you craft your own digital strategy.

As well, social media is a great vehicle to research potential strategic partnerships. This can include bloggers or smaller companies on the precipice where your insight can be valued and shared.

When planning and executing a social media strategy, it’s easier to measure than print, TV and radio campaigns. The amount of data that can be captured and analyzed from social media is impressive, and a complete boon to any future strategies, campaigns and tactics.

The research capacity of social media can also help you in the offline world. It is simply an enormous bank of information and data.

 

Who Knew! Inane Tweets Are Disliked

I’ve been fascinated with inane tweets. You know, people who tweet about their need for a coffee, how they’re not feeling well, the statement of mind of their cats or dogs, their affinity for pickles or the ultra-annoying “Good morning!”

They’re the kind of tweets that make me wonder: Why do people feel compel to spend the time to share these kind of tweets, which, at best, have a limited audience or have no interest to any but the author? It is because people have nothing better to do with their time? Do they really think other people are interested, or they provide a shred of value?

For anyone curious about why these tweets happen, you’ll be interested in a study called “Who Gives a Tweet: Evaluating Microblog Content Value” by researchers Paul André of Carnegie Mellon, Michael Bernstein of MIT, and Kurt Luther of Georgia Tech.

After spending a year studying 43,738 tweets, they found the three most strongly disliked categories were “presence maintenance, conversation and Me Now”.

In particular, “Me Now” tweets only had a 22% chance of being read even though there might be an expectation their followers would be interested.

“Analyzing the free text responses to understand the reasons, we found many cases in which the follower was not interested by the tweeter’s life details, e.g., “sorry, but I don’t care what people are eating”, “too much personal info”, “He moans about this ALL THE TIME. Seriously,” the study said.

Foursquare Check-Ins a “Special Hatred”

The study  said a “special hatred” was Foursquare location check-ins: “Foursquare updates don’t need to be shared on Twitter unless there’s a relevant update to be made.”

To get a better handle on the tweets that people like or dislike, the study rated tweets in worth reading (WR) and not worth reading (NotWR). In the NotWR category, the tweets were described as “arrogant, boring, depressing, mean”, while WR tweets were “funny, exciting, useful, informative”

In conclusion, the reachers suggest if people should do the following to improve the chances of their tweets being read:

– Embed more context in tweets (and be less cryptic)

– Add extra commentary, especially if retweeting a common news source

– Don’t overuse hashtags and use direct messages (DMs) rather than @mentions if more appropriate

– Happy sentiments are valued and “whining” is disliked

– Questions should use a unique hashtag so followers can keep track of the conversation.

More: Business Insider‘s Megan Garber has some thoughts on the study.

Is Your Target Audience a Mystery?

When I meet with companies about their interest in social media, one of the key questions is “What’s the target audience, and what kinds of social media services are they consuming?”.

It’s a straightforward question because it is important to know where you should be telling stories, having discussions and focusing your time and effort.

What never ceases to surprise me is how so many companies have no clue about how their customers, potential customers, suppliers, partners, investors or even employees are using social media. No formal or informal surveys had been done to determine whether the target audience is using social media and, if so, any particular services.

There doesn’t appear to be anyone looking at analytics information to see if any social media services are driving Web site traffic.

Instead, there’s a huge information void. This means two things can happen: a company can invest the time to discover social media usage among its target audience, or it can take an educated guess while creating a strategic and tactical plan for social media.

In most cases, the latter option is selected due to time constraints, or the sense most people are likely using a particular platform (e.g. Twitter, Facebook) so there’s a good chance their social media efforts will hit the target audience. In other words, companies are taking calculated risks rather than taking the time to prepare themselves.

When you think about how companies operate other parts of their businesses, and the research that goes into making strategic and tactical decisions, it is surprising social media decisions happen with less information.

It may have to do with immaturity of the market, or perhaps a reluctance to spend money to do research on a new initiative with uncertain returns. Hence, there may be a less enthusiasm to spend money on research.

In an ideal world, companies would know the social media services being consumed by their target audiences. This lets them embrace the right social media services and, as important, deliver the right content and information.

This is a better approach than throwing a plan into the wind on the hope it manages to resonate with the right people. Sometimes, it works. But in some cases, a company’s social media efforts will flounder, which causes a lot of frustration because so much work and money have gone into it.

The reality, however, is a company could have given themselves a better chance of success by simply doing some research before they got started.

What do you think? How important is it to do research in getting ready for social media?