Thanks to rapid-fire news feeds, constantly changing user interfaces and shifting promotional policies, social media sites are constantly making it more challenging for digital marketers to connect with their followers. Because of this, creating eye-catching, show-stopping social media content is more important than ever.

It’s easy to admit the importance in posting only the best content, but all too often digital marketers tend to throw content spaghetti at the wall and watch with bated breath to see if it sticks. Instead of counting on guesswork to figure out if your content is going to connect with the audience, why not take a few extra minutes to find out exactly what your followers want to see? By combining some traditional SEO keyword research with five minutes of legwork, you can see what your audience is searching for and how to create the kind of content they’re most interested in consuming.

The 5-Minute Process

To kick off this speedy process, we’ll need to establish our offering. For the sake of this example, I’m going to pretend we work in the brewing industry.  To find out what kind of content my audience is interested in reading, I need to figure out four key things:

  1. What topics are the target audience discussing?
  2. What about these topics interests them?
  3. Which of these topics are the most popular?
  4. How do I create engaging content on this topic?

Once we figure those out, coming up with the right kind of content will be easier than crafting an American Pale Ale (which is actually quite easy, from what I hear!)

What are hot topics with your audience?

There are a lot of ways to find out what your audience is discussing, but one of the best methods for doing this is with the one-two punch combo that is Google and Quora. For those of you not in the know, Quora is one of the largest, most reputable Q&A sites on the web and Google is…well, Google.

By using some basic Google operators <LINK>–in particular, the “site:” operator– you can easily search Quora’s wealth of topic-specific forums to find exactly what people in your target audience are discussing. One of the easiest examples is “<topic idea>” site: quora.com. This site combs through Quora and lists all the questions that have been posted on that topic. You can see the search I did based on this formula: “beer recipes” site:quora.com.
google-for-beer-recipes

In the above example for “beer recipe,” we can see that the topic has come up in the form of a number of different questions. From here, we have a great basis for our research. Simply jot down some of the variations from the results or, for extra credit, check out the post and try to cherry pick even more terms. These basic concepts will work as the seeds for your content research.

What are they really talking about around that topic? 

Combing through forums can help you see directly what people are talking about, but it provides a limited scope. After all, you’re only looking at specific topics. What’s really going to help you find more ideas is to expand your efforts into more long-tail topics, and there are few ways better to find long-tail topics thanUbersuggest.

One of the best free tools you can find on the web, Ubersuggest takes any keyword or phrase you give it and returns a wealth of long-tail options that are pulled directly from Google’s autosuggest, which, in turn, is pulled from actual search queries. In other words, Ubersuggest takes your key phrase and gives you alternate suggestions based on what people are actually looking for.

ubersuggest-beer

What’s great about Ubersuggest (other than it’s super suggestion abilities) is that it lets you check off suggestions you like, add them to a list and then copy them all at once. After you have a nice list of keyword suggestions, you can figure out…

What does the data tell us about the topic?

Now that you have a ton of useful keyword ideas, it’s time to see just how many people are actually interested in those ideas. This is when we bring in the ol’ standby of the digital marketing industry: Google Adwords Keyword Planner Tool.

For those who have never tried it, the Adwords Keyword Planner helps you determine the value of certain keywords by providing a number of metrics. One of the most valuable pieces of data it provides is a estimation of just how many people are entering that term into Google. Though the number is just an estimate, it can be used as a barometer to see just how much interest a particular topic idea.

adwords-planner

Simply paste in all the phrases you pulled from Ubersuggest and BOOM! You have some quantifiable data to show you just which concepts are being searched for on the web. This is powerful information that could easily help you not only decide if a certain piece of content is worth creating, but also determine new ideas that you may not have thought of previously.

How do I make sure my new content will engage?

You have your topic, your long-tail search terms and your data from adwords. Now you’re ready to actually start creating great social media content. The last step is making sure this new content will actually engage. You know the topic is right, but there’s more than one way to bake a cake, and you want to make sure your audience finds your cake absolutely delicious.

This is where Rival IQ comes in. With this online tool, you can create a Market Landscape of companies in your market, especially your competitors, since they are most likely going after the same target audience as you. It not only shows you metrics like number of fans, social activity and other trending data, but also pulls the top posts sorted by engagement across six social networks. Since we are using Beer for our example, I created a Landscape of four beer companies. And since they are mostly targeting consumers, I looked at Facebook content.

First, I analyzed what types of posts were getting the most engagement, and which days they were getting that engagement. Clearly, I need to include photos or videos in my social media content for Facebook, and Tuesdays and Fridays seem to be the best days for engagement.  Maybe that’s when my target audience is thinking about having a beer versus actually at the pub drinking a beer!

landscape-beerNext, I dug into the actual content. What I learned was my posts need to be simple, fun, conversational – and include awesome photos of BEER! In looking at the past week’s posts, there was a clear trend of tying into the New Year.  This report was just for the past 7 days, but I would probably run a deeper analysis of at least 90 days to really understand what content was working.

beer-grid

The other thing that’s cool with Rival IQ is you can create multiple Landscapes, so I could also create a group of companies going after my same target audience that I don’t compete with to see what kind of content they are creating that really engages.

Ready, Set, Go

It’s important to find a balance between totally guessing when writing social media posts and laboring over data for hours on end to craft the perfect message. This method helps you make an informed, data-driven decision in a time-efficient manner. Remember to repeat the process often, too, because hot topics on social media change as often as the direction of the wind. And, go!

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