Seven basics for targeting your content
File Under: Public Relations, Social Media, Content Marketing, Audience Targeting
I have a short and sweet message for you. Public relations professionals, social media managers and marketing directors should know this bit of advice just as well as it should be known amongst reporters and editors at newspapers, trade magazines and publishers across today’s wide spectrum of content developers.
When it comes to marketing activity, publishing, editorial and content calendars, the natural action, or first step, has been to maintain a calendar based on your story … the things you have to say to support your brand. Over the adolescence of social media and the inescapable desire of socially-active brands to hijack a big moment or blast their content across platforms in a desperate attempt to engage, the focus turned to observances, holidays and other events. The problem is that content tended to have very little to do with your targeted audience. Ultimately, the audience was whoever happened to see it, those you collected as followers. Those moments consisted of your brand raising its hand to make a point in the middle of someone else’s conversation and that someone else was rarely a customer you served or relied on to help build your business.
Nobody feels better after Acme Anvils wishes them a “Happy Valentine’s Day”Colin Deval
From there, with that activity, the general hope was that your audience would come to you, find you, engage with you and, maybe, if there was a reason, click your content. Maybe, if you were really lucky, they’d enter into a purchase cycle.
My recommendation is to adopt a different mindset.
Don’t just make a calendar of things you want to say. Get an understanding of your audience. Figure out where they are, digitally and in real life. What do they read? What’s their online “thumbprint”? What events and conferences do they attend? Who are they influenced by? If you are a healthcare system, don’t just put your logo on content for calendar observances like Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July. Drive heart health initiatives around Heart Health month in February or promote heart screenings on Valentine’s Day. Do so by promoting the activity where the audience is; for example, community centers or day care facilities. While you’re at it, take a look at what local organizations like those are doing on their calendars and align some of your content, storytelling, initiatives or partnerships with them. These are basic fundamentals for marketers, but I’m imploring you to apply the technique to your editorial, content and social media management calendars.
Don’t just make content … or “nontent” as some like to say.
Use your calendar to find your audience and then build your content and marketing activities around that.
It may seem obvious, particularly when you spell it out like this. Still, for many organizations over many years, I’ve seen a struggle with the balance of producing content for their audience and putting it (targeting, promoting, paying) where that audience is, as opposed to the tried and true action of blasting more noise into the contentsphere (this is an actual word, no, don’t look it up) and failing.
So, what kind of calendar do you keep?
Does it lead you anywhere?
Is it helping you find your audience?
Whether digitally or in real life, the individuals who make up your audience gather in the same places. Identifying key publications and events will uncover opportunities to get your message in front of your target audience. From there, you just have to make sure you have your message nailed and develop effective opportunities for those individuals to engage with you.
But, to find them … go to them. Use your calendar to plan around that. It’s no secret that you should be involved in events within your industry, but I’m here to encourage you to use that approach more fully to truly target how you produce, develop, distribute and place your content.
- Build a media list. Look for quality over quantity.
- Tier it, adding professional organizations or relevant community events from your field of interest.
- Research those publications, organizations, conferences and events. Get to them know as intimately as possible.
- Research their editorial calendars or those affiliated with the organizations.
- Make a new list focused on their events or publishing opportunities.
- Use it for ideas to help plan your content production.
- Use it to target and pay to place your content so it is valuable and relevant for the target audiences.
Assess. Rinse. Repeat.
Colin Deval is a Senior Communications Strategist at Core Creative, a branding agency that specializes in telling the life-changing stories for mid-market healthcare systems and the emerging med-tech world.