In the first post in this content creation series, we talked about understanding your customer and developing buyer personas. In the second post, we discussed mapping the customer’s persona to their buying cycle to help determine their readiness to buy. In this article, we’ll focus on the next step, which is identifying opportunities through competitor research, listening and monitoring social conversations. You can use this social intelligence to drive your strategy towards your business goals through engaging social content.
Data is meaningless without insight and context. With this insightful knowledge, engaging and creative content can give your brand the competitive edge. Data gives us the ability to make informed and strategic decisions; to identify opportunities to add value for an existing or potential customer.
We can monitor and mine data to look for these opportunities.
Customer insights can be derived from multiple types of sources. We can gain insights from competitor research, industry trends, customer surveys, and social media listening and monitoring tools.
Competitor and Industry Research
In researching the competition within your industry, you want to gather the following information:
- Understand trends and forecasts in your industry,
- Find weak points where you can serve the market better,
- Identify strategies to stay ahead of the curve,
- Opportunities to constantly innovate and improve, ideally more rapidly than competitors.
Here are some ways in which you can monitor and track your competitors’ activities:
- Subscribe to their email newsletters and other promotional updates.
- Set up Google alerts for each of your competitor’s name, product, service, etc., to be informed when they are in the news.
- Follow them in social media channels, on Facebook, YouTube, Google Plus, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as any other social networks on which they have a presence.
- Attend business and networking events in your industry and meet with your competitors or listen to their speeches and presentations.
- Buy their product or service and evaluate it yourself.
- Perform a website and content audit on all of their content and social properties.
Finally, use tools to aid in your market research. Some free tools are:
- Google Trends to monitor industry trends.
- Google Alerts to track brand, product, and competitor mentions.
- Twitter Search to track conversations around a keyword.
- Social Mention to gauge sentiment.
- Spyfu to research which keywords competitors are buying.
- Ghostery to see ad networks, tags, and optimization tools.
These tools can help reduce inefficiencies and automate data collection and analysis, making it a less cumbersome task.
The aim of customer surveys is to gather information directly from those already using your products or services. The big benefit of such surveys is they help you pinpoint existing opportunities by asking the right questions. So what are the right questions?
Depending on your business, you should aim to ask a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions to help you understand why and how your customers are buying.
For example, to determine who is buying, you could conduct a Facebook poll with demographic data. To discover their motivation for buying, you’d have to ask a question pertaining to what need the product fills.
Your aim with querying your customers is not just to gather valuable statistical data, but also to identify subtle nuances in how an opportunity appears to a buyer and what motivates his purchase decision.
Listening & Social Monitoring
Conducting a listening audit is crucial to understanding what customers are saying about your brand. Listening audits should be conducted before joining the conversation.
Our social media toolkit lists 8 insights you can acquire by establishing and executing a social media listening plan:
- Who is driving share of voice for your brands.
- What the top issues are that matter to your customers.
- Where your customers live online.
- Where conversations are occurring that matter.
- How news is shared and by whom.
- How you can add value for your customers.
- When you should engage the community.
- Why customers are passionate about certain topics.
Listening and monitoring is the first step in building a deeper relationship with your fans and followers. Social media expert Chris Brogan calls this step “growing bigger ears”. Indeed, by listening with “bigger ears” a brand can expect to understand who its industry’s influencers are, what topics matter to them, how the brand features in their conversations, what keywords are associated with the brand, and what kinds of content gets customers most excited.
How to Use Social Intelligence for More Engaging Social Content
The information gleaned by the process above offers an impartial and unbiased view of business opportunities. It enables executives to take action based on concrete data and to stay abreast of small movements and trends that may be capitalized on, thus providing them with a competitive first mover advantage.
Brands that plan content from a place of deep insight into customer behavior are better able to anticipate needs and get in front of them with creative, engaging social content. This content can create awareness, spur social sharing, add value and even assist prospects in making their purchasing decision.
Monitoring social intelligence also allows brands to test what is working, what’s not and to tweak their strategy based on actual responses in real time.Tags: Business,Social Media