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As someone that works in Content Marketing/PR I often find myself drawn to campaigns that I see from other brands (not just my own), and when looking at these campaigns one of few thoughts will pass my mind:

  1. Awesome campaign all round, great results, wish I’d thought of it
  2. That campaign was super on-brand but not very entertaining or inspiring
  3. That was a great campaign but I just don’t fully get the relevance to the brand
  4. That was a really great campaign, super relevant to the brand, it’s a shame it didn’t get more pick up

And I’m not the only one, in a recent Sprout Social report they found a significant disconnect between what consumers said they wanted to see from brands and what marketers post:

I include this, not because I’m saying we should base our Content Marketing campaigns around what consumers say they want on social, but because it highlights a common problem that we’re not necessarily listening to what our customers actually want, we’re often just doing what we think they want.

Sometimes however we’re taking it too far the other way and thinking only about what our audience is interested in and not necessarily whether that is relevant to our brand. Sure, our audience might love superhero movies, but does that have anything to do with the product or service we sell? If not it’s unlikely to provide meaningful or long-lasting results for us.

Now I’m not saying that I’ve never worked on a campaign that falls under points two to four, but I have certainly started thinking hard about how to avoid falling into those two groups. And I think it all comes down to this – to build a successful campaign you need to understand three key things, and the sweet spot for a successful campaign lies at the intersection of all three:

I’ve already kind of covered the audience and business-relevance above, but the ‘what journalists are writing about’ point is key too. I see journalists as our ‘middle audience’ because we need to make sure we engage them in order to reach our end audience – customers/prospective customers, so we need to know what they’re interested in/writing about too.

So that all sounds great but how do we do it? Well I’ve included a few tools we use to do this below.

What your audience is interested in

Facebook Audiences – using data from page likes and website visitors we can start to see the other pages our audience likes and the topics that they’re interested in.

Social listening (we use Pulsar) – taking some of the Facebook data we can start to research those topics more to find out what the talking points are and where people are talking about them.

What journalists are writing about

Buzzsumo (probably my most-loved tool) – again using our topic data we can use the ‘Most shared’ to see what kind of articles are popular for that topic, we can start to group the articles to see what types of things are successful. Here’s an example where I did this for the World Cup for a presentation:

We can also look at what’s trending in the news for our topic area within Buzzsumo.

Anewstip – we can plug in our topic and see all the journalists that have tweeted/written about that topic and, again, look at how popular it is and how they’re writing about it.

What’s relevant to your business

You shouldn’t really need a tool for this one, but it should be the filter you pass every idea through – if there’s not a reason/connection for your business specifically to be talking about that topic then you probably need to park the idea.

Keeping these three lenses in mind when brainstorming campaign idea, I think, will lead to far more successful campaigns all round.