Surely you’ve heard the old adage “content is king”. It’s certainly true, especially when it comes to your website or blog. The goal is to offer readers something useful and compelling that will make them want to share it with others and keep coming back for more. Actually coming up with good content, however, can be a challenge. Believe it or not, one of the most lucrative sources of content ideas is your readers. After all, who better to gear your topics toward than those who are regular visitors to your site? That being said, here are several ways you can discover some excellent content ideas right from your readers.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
You may think you already know just what your online community wants to hear, but that’s not necessarily true. The best way to get your fingers on the pulse of your audience is to engage them. There are a number of easy, organized ways to ask your readers what they’d like to see more of on your site. Start by creating a list of topics ideas and then compile them into a survey to gather feedback and determine which ones are most likely to garner interest.
There are several free online survey services available and most are very easy to set up and use. (Try SurveyMonkey or Zoomerang.) List all of your topic ideas and ask those that you’re surveying to check “yes” or “no” for each one, ask them to rank the topics in order of interest and ask them to choose their top 3. Be sure to also include an “other” field, where your readers can fill in their own suggestions for future topics they’d like to see more of and pay close attention to the responses. At the end of the survey you’ll be armed with a list of relevant topics that you can feel confident your readers will be interested in.
Read Your Comments
If you allow readers to comment on your blog posts, take the time to read through the responses and see what your audience thinks about what you’re writing. If one particular post seems to get a large response, consider writing more about that topic. See if you can turn a popular post into a future series of related posts. Pay attention to what your readers are saying in their comments. Are they mostly asking questions? This means they’re interested in more information on what you’ve written about and could potentially position you as a go-to expert.
Track Your Retweets
Twitter is a great resource for discovering what content your followers are most interested in. Take a look at what tweets got the most attention and which ones your readers shared with their networks the most. Then, turn it into the opportunity to create more conversations. To effectively analyze your retweets, write down the number of times each individual tweet was retweeted in a month, group them into topics or categories, and total up the retweets for each topic or category. Then you’ll have the three most popular topics to focus on in future tweets.
Review Your Twitter Favorites
Along with retweets, the number of times someone stars or “favorites” one of your tweets can give you an idea of what topics were most popular amongst your followers. You can find out more about your Twitter favorites by using Favstar, as follows:
- Visit Favstar.fm.
- Click “Sign in via Twitter” and use your Twitter credentials to sign in.
- Click “Authorize App” to allow Favstar to locate people who have marked your tweets as favorites.
- From the customized Favstar page, click “My Tweets”.
- Scroll through and categorize the tweets that received the most favorites to determine which topics to focus more attention on.
For more information on how you can use Twitter to gain insight about your audience and how to navigate the new layout, check out our article that highlights some recent Changes to Twitter for the New Year.
Add Up Your URL Click-Throughs
When you share links on Twitter, you probably use one of the popular URL shorteners, such as Bit.ly, Goo.gl, Tiny URL, or Cli.gs. Most of these sites offer insight and statistics for each link, information that you can use to determine which links got the most attention. Again, group your links into topics or categories and total up the number of click-throughs for each to determine what topics to write about more. It’s important to note that while Twitter offers its own URL shortener, http://t.co, it does not provide any statistics or insight so it’s probably more beneficial to use one of the other services.
Use Facebook Insights
Facebook offers a lot of useful tools to help you discover how users are interacting with your business page. Use these insights to see which status updates got the most attention for the previous month. You can get the total count of likes and comments for each day as well as details about each individual post. Group them by topic or category to see which were more popular and focus on producing more content that relates to those topics or categories in the future. To get this information, click “View Insights” in the right-hand column of your page, find the interactions graph and click “See Details”.
If your Facebook page could use a bit of a boost, take a look at these 10 Tips for Enhancing Your Facebook Page.
Count the Click-Through’s on Your E-Newsletters
If you send out newsletters via email, this can be another excellent tool for discovering what your audience is interested in. There are a number of email services such as AWeber, Constant Contact and Mail Chimp that allow you to track the number of clicks from your newsletter to your website or blog. This lets you pinpoint which topics in your newsletter got people’s attention so you can capitalize on these topics for future content.
Each of these tools and techniques will give you valuable insight into what your audience truly values in terms of content as well as direction toward what they’d like to see more of. By gathering your content ideas from your readers you’ll be able to give them exactly what they want and focus your time and effort only on the most valuable content that will get the results you’re after.