6 Real-Life Ways to use Social Media ‘Big Data’ for a Kickass Content Strategy

OK, so in the last post we already talked about why it’s important to create a contextual content strategy and how. Next I’d like to tackle the slippery fish that is ‘big data’ in relation to social media and content…

Lots of Data Talk, no Info

There’s lots of total faff out there about data analytics that looks very pretty but somewhat ironically, contains little or no real practical advice as to how to use social media data harvesting and analytics to the advantage of any business or organisation. So I’m going to keep this super simply and put forward six ways in which you can use social listening tools to drive real decisions and, of course, real results. These six ways occur along a six step process to activating a content strategy. If you want to first know how to develop it (which I’d strongly advise – cart before horse and all that, please click here).

6 Steps to Activating your Content Strategy

1) Figure out the audience you want to reach and find out where they are.

Can be demographic sure, but also and often more interestingly and effectively take a look at how they are defined psychographically or event driven.

2) Figure out the influencers and experts are within the community.

Stay open minded – they are often very different people from your typical default PR or traditional media faces – this is a good thing!

3) Do nothing – except watch, listen, and learn!

Take notes of what works and what doesn’t amongst your specific community. Figure out what the unique unwritten rules are.

4) Using your content strategy, develop your first bit of content (yay!).

This may be as simple or complex as you wish. Now assess and repurpose this content for maximum impact across multiple platforms.

5) Market your content in an effective way. 

Sounds like an obvious step but seriously, just because you’ve decided to step into the realm of social/digitall ‘properly’ does not mean swarms of ardent fans lie in wait for your first murmur. If you’ve put the time/money into creating content be sure not to have that go to waste by letting people know it is there!

6) Measure your Results

So speaking of all that time and money… was it worth it? Pretty pointless if you don’t go find out. ‘Noise’ levels are one thing, but did your content brief should have had other ‘real’ KPIs in mind. Did all that hard work achieve them? What worked best? What didn’t? Learnings going forward are extremely valuable, especially as digital is far more flexible that a traditional campaign and because content strategies never really ‘switch off’.


6 Ways Big Data can Help the Process: 

1) Finding your audience. 

Maybe you don’t actually know much about your audience to begin with. Maybe you’re trying to steal your competitors audience. Maybe you are interested in people within a certain geography that talk about doing their own car repairs a lot… Social Listening tools – by being able to find and gather the incidences of certain phrases (such as your competitors or your own brand’s name)  – will tell you where these guys are without any human judgement. Apart from which platforms, they’ll also tell you specific areas within some platforms, when people are typically engaging by the day or hour, who they are, and often some guiding average demographics, to name but a few advantages.

2) Finding the influencers

Your social media tool should be able to give your audience’s individual influencer scores. Meaning, if they share something online, how many people on average see it, interact with it and ‘follow’ them in general. Your top scorers are your influencers – both positive and negative. Study them well! Your social media tool should also be able to be set up to aggregate specifically your influencer activity – so you can learn what other stuff they talk about. Handy or what?!

3) Listening

Well it goes without saying that listening tools are great for well, listening. Pay particular attention to the natural cycle of activity – your content strategy should reflect this cycle. If people are talking about say, banking most on Sundays, and your a bank, sorry but that’s when you will be able to engage most effectively! A word of warning though, automated sentiment analysis does not work. Period. Ever. If someone tells you it does they are lying, are don’t even understand the tool they are selling. If you are any good at building formula though you can aggregate trigger words in your database (which can be something as simple as an excel spreadsheet) that you’ve personally chosen to look at certain topics. Use the tool to also create content books – defined by the consistent topics that are out there. This stage is also super useful for feeding back beyond the marketing team… Are there current customer service issues? Are people talking about your TV campaign? Comparing your to a competitor? (I’m frequently surprised by how often a client’s view of their competitors is totally different from the consumers!)  A problem with a certain product line? Confusion over a spec? Social media data is not just useful for marketing. Far from it! Sharing is caring!

4) Content Development

Social tools can also help here. Is there any particular topics that appear seasonal or are trending (e.g. recipes) – if they are coming up with influencers but not being talked about by the masses yet all the better – you’ll be ahead of the content curve. Are people literally going ‘I wish I had more info on X’ ? How does it fit with your brand’s content strategy? If it does – double winner!

5) Marketing Content

Social media listening tools allow you to see how effective your media spend is, independent of any media agencies etc. who may have a stake in proving they’ve done well. Enough said!

6) Measurement

After doing all this hard work you are going to want to go back to your boss with hard facts and numbers as to why your work, worked. Was there an incremental increase in conversation about your brand? Which content worked best? Who of the influencers was on your side that you need to develop a better relationship next time? Who was a detractor that needs to be appeased or dealt with? What had the most spend vs. most online influence? What lead to clicks and sales? What are your learnings for next time? Does is it build an argument for and spark the next campaign in such a way that might get you extra budget or manpower for next time?

Big data when it comes to social media shouldn’t be a mystery. It’s freely available for everyone – from startup to global brands. And, for a relatively small investment it can seriously inform and grow your business, your audience and your revenue.

Any questions or business specific advise please holler! Contact details can be found in the about section of this blog.

One Comment Add yours

  1. M. says:

    Reblogged this on Marilyn Grando.



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