Three Ways to Use Data to Plan Content

When it comes to developing and modifying content or social media strategy, data is essential. Whether you’re writing content for a financial services company or developing a social media strategy for a local restaurant, it’s important to use data to understand what your audience responds to—no matter what your industry.

In May of 2014, I attended the Chicago Social Media Master’s Summit and walked away with some great tips on using data to build a content strategy. Experts from Kraft, Threadless, United Airlines, BuzzFeed and Enjoy Life Foods weighed in on how to measure and implement your data.

Here are three tips that can help you make sense of your data and use it to optimize your content and social media strategies:

1. Build out an editorial calendar by understanding your top performing stories: Danna Shank, an associate director with Kraft Foods Group, shared how her team uses the top hit stories throughout the year to build out their editorial calendar for the next year. Data from successful stories is a good way to guide strategy, Shank said at the conference.

2. Use Google Trends to understand what your audience is thinking about: Real time, relevant data can inspire new content. For example, Shank’s team noticed the search term “green velvet cupcakes” trending before St. Patrick’s Day. They took the idea to the test kitchen to create a new green velvet cupcake recipe, then posted that recipe to their blog and promoted it using social media.

3. Get data from your clients: Tap into information from clients to guide your content strategies. BuzzFeed uses this strategy for their sponsored posts, said Colleen Callinan, sales director at BuzzFeed. For example, Glade provided insight on consumers’ nostalgic connection with their products, and Buzzfeed used that data to write a post, sponsored by Glade, called “The 20 Best Smells From Childhood.”

Remember that in order to effectively use data, you must clearly define your success metrics. Are you looking for 50,000 or more unique visitors to your site per month, a 1:1 retweet ratio (i.e., for every one tweet you send, you receive one retweet), or 50 forwards of your monthly newsletter? Once you define your success metrics, you can gauge how well your content worked.

Share your stats with other teams to ensure everyone is working toward the same goals. At Enjoy Life Foods, the team tallies stats manually and emails them to the whole company every day. You can also try using sites such as Sprout Social and link services like Bitly to make data easier to track and analyze.

Data is also a useful tool for  proving ROI to clients, especially for social media. When clients see how often consumers engage with their brand online, it’s easier for them to understand how social media matters to their overall marketing efforts.

Camille Izlar is a web producer at Think Glink Media.

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