By Anna Wagner Schliep
Since PR is centered around content, I chose the Content track during the recent Midwest Regional Workshop at CHS headquarters near Saint Paul, Minnesota. The group got a chance to hear from an analytical perspective with the first Content breakout session – “Online Listening Tools – What’s New, What Works, How You Can Use Them to Understand and Connect with Audiences” – led by Dan Mandle, director of analytics at Colle McVoy.
Reviewing analytics, including online listening, is crucial to informing any content strategy and approach; however, it can be hard to discern which resources will best help you do so and how to optimize the resources you already have. Mandle provided a great reminder that in all we do, relevance is key. “When you pull away from the specific tools, which change constantly, there’s one thing that doesn’t change and that’s making sure what we’re doing fits our audiences,” he said.
Data, collected as our search, social and mobile app interactions send information, can provide perspective on what is our target audiences are interested in.
When using an online listening, or other data analysis, tool, the first step is determining what we want to know. Mandle provided a few starter questions to help dive deeper:
- What are people saying about the latest news (in general, or about my company/product)?
- Are certain people dominating the conversation, whether positively or negatively, that we want to engage in?
- To what extent is the conversation happening driving action?
- What else are people talking about (beyond my company/product)?
Some of these questions may apply to you, or you may have different questions to feed your content strategy.
Many programs exist for social listening and identifying influencers, however search is not to be overlooked. Google Trends is an easy, free to access tool that can provide a good overview of what’s trending. While we cannot say there is causation between Google searches and social media activity, there is typically correlation. Search topics are a great way to identify editorial topics, or angles to take on stories.
Mandle stressed that of all the tools available, there is no perfect option. Some will be easier to use but their insights may not be as robust, and vice versa. Each tool requires sifting through the information it delivers and further analyzing the data, and which one will work best for you will depend on what you’re looking to accomplish.