Checking Twitter during work hours isn’t always a form of procrastinating—sometimes it can be highly productive. Tell your boss that you read that here!
Eavesdropping on social networks, researching how your audience behaves on each network and how a topic engages them, is a great way to generate new content ideas.
That's why social listening is an important part of the content ideation process.
Mike Allton, Internet Marketing Consultant at Hootsuite defines the act of social media listening as “listening to conversations taking place on social media and looking for opportunities to participate and engage customers and prospects.”
Social listening is also a great way to understand what content might interest your audience. Next time you’re running out of ideas to write about, taking a “productive break” on social media might get the ball rolling.
Hootsuite is my go-to tool for listening in on social media conversations and finding out what people are talking about to pick up on trends and popular topics.
Just run a search for specific terms or phrases that you want to listen in on. From there, click “add as a stream” to create multiple streams for specific topics and even your own brand to see how people are engaging with it.
While writing this blog post, I browsed Tweets about social media listening to discover the following recurring themes:
- Is social media good or bad?
- Are you listening to what’s being said about your business?
- Social media for social selling
Depending on your topic, people will also Tweet interesting facts such as this one: “30% Of Tweets mentioning your brand don’t include your Twitter handle!” This tweet lead to this post. And now I can reference it here to demonstrate the importance of active social listening.
When people share in-depth content on Twitter, it's common practice to include a statistic in the tweet, so social listening is also a good way to hunt for these standout facts. These can inspire new angles for you to approach content.
Of course, only some of these insights will make it into your actual post, but that’s the way it is with research.
Twitter Keyword Research
Performing keyword searches can help in generating content ideas as well. An article published by Larry Kim in The Experts' Guide to Keyword Research for Social Media states that “conducting keyword research on Twitter can help you pick out important trends and conversations and gauge market interest.”
You use Twitter’s own analytics feature to identify your audience's interests or Tweet Binder to conduct this kind of keyword research and filter tweets for conversations, RTs, images, and links. This helps paint a picture of where the conversation is going and where your audience's minds are at.
Another good way to leverage social media is to embed thoughts and quotes from industry influencers. You have can borrow their experience and insight to lend credibility to your own content.
This can even help you determine the structure and direction of a blog post. You can showcase these quotes to shed light on both sides of a controversial issue or social media
Social media even lets you reference certain behavior with proof, if that's what you're writing about.
LinkedIn Groups, Google+ Communities, and other niches
LinkedIn and Google+ can be used for more than networking. LinkedIn groups and Google+ communities are a great way to listen in on individuals who share a common interest that the group is built around. Start noticing the conversations and exchanges that happen between people in these communities, and use that insight to isolate pain points, areas of interest or controversy.
You'll find that our behavior is dependent on the channel, so make sure you're listening in the right place.
Since LinkedIn is a professional network focusing on B2B interactions, chances are you’ll find more active members with business-oriented interests than, say, Facebook.
While B2C content marketers are typically more keen on this mass marketing tactic, you might occasionally find a trending topic that you can join in on while it's hot. Being relevant is a good way to create topical content that can reliably garner attention, even if it's only for the short term.
While as marketers we like to plan things ahead of time and know what post is going live on what day, it’s important to retain some spontaneity to be open-minded about using recent trends to shape a new post.
So, next time you are browsing your social media sites, turn on your social listening ears and start paying attention to noticeable trends, topics, and what real people are talking about.