One of the most important aspects of a good content strategy is topic development. Generating valuable content ideas that attract and inspire your target audience may sound quite simple, but when hundreds of other content strategists are going above and beyond to give their readers what they want – the very same readers you’re trying to inspire – you may find yourself at the back of the line.
So how can you as a content strategist generate content ideas to attract your target audience?
A common problem experienced by many strategists is trying to leverage an under-researched content strategy. Without the proper amount of research, you run the risk of writing for the wrong audience and generating little to no user engagement. If you’re struggling to define who exactly your target audience is and what they want, turn to one of your most useful tools as a strategist: metrics.
The user metrics generated by software such as Google Analytics are vital to your strategy because they indicate how your content is being consumed, shared and targeted. However, since the release of the Hummingbird algorithm, content and SEO strategists might be a little wary of how exactly programs like Google Analytics can benefit their strategies. Strategists should by no means fear the Hummingbird algorithm like they did the Penguin and Panda updates – they should celebrate it.
Google’s Hummingbird is designed to give us a much deeper understanding of what audiences are looking for through search. For the first time, the Hummingbird update gives strategists a complete insight into user goals, making brilliant user-generated content even more achievable than before, and reminding strategists that free keyword analysis is not the only name of the game.
Look to additional web tools such as Qualaroo to research what audiences have come to your website looking for but haven’t been able to find.
Find your voice
According to Jenny Lemmons Magic’s piece, ‘How To Talk So Your Target Audience Will Listen’, strategists need to tone down the formality of their online voice and talk to their audience as individuals. Whether executing an editorial or social media strategy, remember that tone of voice is pivotal. Audiences are not looking to be inspired by how well you can turn a phrase – they want you to speak their language so you can understand their needs. As Lemmons Magic puts it, turn off your “radio voice” and adopt a more conversational tone.
Apply the same conversational tone when generating content topics – not every blog needs a formal slant that is akin to a scientific research paper. While it’s recommended to talk to your audience and not your peers, it doesn’t hurt to put yourself in your reader’s shoes – how would you like to be communicated with if you were them? In the words of marketing expert Bryan Eisenberg: “Speak to the dog, in the language of the dog, about what matters to the heart of the dog.”
Watch and learn
Creating and uploading compelling content that talks to your target audience is not where your job ends. Remember that communicating with your audience is a two-way street – you are learning as much from your audience as they are from you. Paying attention to how your readers are engaging and sharing your content online is not only essential for recording your campaign ROI, but is another tool for generating follow-up content ideas.
A simple scan of any blog comments, likes and tweets from any recent posts on your social sites or web pages will give you an idea of which blog topics are winning and which are not. Pay close attention to questions that have abounded from a particular blog post, or video content that has gone viral – this is your audience’s way of asking you for the same inspiration from your next blog post. A good content strategist will always deliver.
Haylie Pretorius – Online Editor