Five Ways Your Audience Is Already Telling You Which Stories to Tell

Sometimes the terms “analytics” and “insights” can seem more daunting than they actually are.

You don’t need complicated spreadsheets to conduct meaningful audience research and inform your content strategy. There’s plenty of data out there already; you just need to pay attention to it. Then your job is just a matter of telling similar stories or conveying information in similar ways. Boom: you’re now a data-driven content marketer.

1. Keep an Eye on Facebook Likes and Shares

Are your followers craving in-depth biographical features about the members of your team? Do they really want to see pictures from the happy hour you’re throwing? Or are they just hungry for industry-specific tips? Don’t just guess; measure it! If your business has a Facebook page, you’ve already got a sandbox where you can road test topics for free. Use engagement data [likes, comments, shares, and reach] to get a sense for what your core demographic wants to see. And if you don’t have the time to produce your own content, you can share other people’s work. You’ll still be drawing valuable insights about your audience’s interests.

2. Track Your Email Click Data

If you already send regular email blasts to your community, you likely have a powerful set of data at your hands. Most email management software boasts robust link-tracking capability, which you can use to guide content production. Keep track of the stories, links, and calls to action that gain the most traction—just make sure you’re providing both image and text-based links to capture different kinds of users.

3. Examine Facebook’s Audience Insights

Sourcing accurate demographic profiles of your audience can be an expensive proposition. But Facebook’s Audience Insights tool—located within the Ad Manager—will give you a surprisingly rigorous breakdown of your page’s followers, including data on gender, relationship status, income, and even field of employment. The most intriguing feature is Facebook’s Lifestyle categories, which makes guesses about your audience’s socioeconomic status and tastes. Once you know who your audience is, you can start telling stories that might appeal to them.

4. Try Your Hand at Subject Line Testing

Want a real tried-and-true method to determine whether or not your message matters? Put it in the subject line of your email. The resulting open rate’s a surefire way to measure just how compelling your proposition is. Just be careful to control for other factors by sending your emails at a fixed time of day and on the same day of the week.

5. Add in Some LinkedIn Analytics

It’s important to remember that, when it comes to storytelling, context matters. Just because a story works on one platform doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll work on another. If you’re telling business-related stories, it stands to reason that you should test their fortunes on a business-related platform. LinkedIn has a similar engagement structure to Facebook, so you can use it to test topics in roughly the same way.

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