How to create targeted content that your audience will love

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Every minute 347,222 tweets are sent, 6,944,444 snapchat videos are watched and 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. Nowadays, it’s not enough to produce content for different channels, that content has to be properly targeted if it is to cut through all the background noise.

That was one of the major takeaways from a presentation given by Lance Concannon, Director of Marketing, Sysomos at The Drum’s Future of Marketing event. “Most businesses are churning as much content as they can, throwing it at the web and seeing what sticks,” he said. “Some it does and some of it doesn’t. The trouble is that companies have a tendency to just rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat.

“I think we can do a lot better than that. The analytics we get from social media can help us work smarter and be a bit more intelligent about our marketing so that we can be targeted and get better insight into what is working and what isn’t.”

Concannon pointed out that the typical content marketing campaign involved a lot of guess work during the planning phase. He said that social media, in particular, could help marketers target specific audiences with particular messages. “If you type certain words into Twitter you will find out what people are saying about particular topics,” he pointed out. “Then you can use an algorithm to create distinct community clusters.”

Using the word ‘gin’ as an example, Concannon illustrated how this could happen in practice. Analysis of Twitter feeds shows that there are groups of people who like to make jokes about gin drinking and discuss the merits of different artisanal brands online. However, there is also a group of people based in Scotland that are particularly interested in gin distilling. “It turns out that there is a large gin distilling industry in Scotland and a group of gin devotees north of the border,” said Concannon. “In theory, that audience could be the basis for a targeted marketing campaign.”

Warming to his theme, Concannon went on to point out the importance of measuring marketing campaigns. “That involves identifying target audiences, finding out what has worked and hasn’t worked in the past and understanding your clients’ expectations and benchmarks,” he said.

According to Concannon, marketers have a tendency to analyse content marketing campaigns in terms of likes and re-tweets. Whilst this might look good in a PowerPoint slide, it doesn’t actually help businesses achieve their strategic objectives.

Instead, marketers should identify what success looks like to senior managers and key stakeholders and feed that information into the process from the start. “It’s best to keep things simple,” he said. “By all means aim high, but be realistic – don’t set yourself up for failure.”

Concannon said that one way to avoid failure was to understand the pros and cons of organic and paid search. He pointed out that organic search had fallen off a cliff. “Platforms are de-prioritising branded content in peoples’ timelines,” he said. “With Facebook in particular, no matter how strong your content is and how many people ‘like’ it, you will find it hard to get that content into peoples’ timelines unless you pay a lot of money.”

However, Concannon said that there was an upside to this state of affairs. Brands that are prepared to pay for search, find that they get incredibly granular and focused data on their target audiences. “There are some specific cases where it makes a lot of sense to pay for search. For example, if you have resource-intensive content and you want to make a big push to get the material out, it makes sense to invest in paid social. Increasing brand awareness is another example. You may also want to use paid social to amplify positive feedback your brand has received from customers and clients and give that content an extended lifecycle. Lastly, you might want to use paid social to target very niche audiences.”

Concannon acknowledged that brands were likely to continue to use a mix of paid content, organic content and other content to reach customers and prospects but concluded his talk with a suggestion. “There’s a lot of insight that can be obtained by looking at all of these channels and comparing and contrasting them through a digital dashboard. It allows companies to ask more impactful questions and get better and better in their marketing. Done properly, the process can become a virtuous circle,” he said.

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