Content is a hot topic in the business world today. Indeed, content marketing – done correctly – can be a very effective way to attract and retain clients, but the problem is more and more companies produce more and more content. It’s highly important to understand how to produce content that will engage your target audience, but is also vital to know what your competitors’ most engaging content is. To figure this out you don’t have to spend ages collecting and analyzing all that content, you can do things way easier and efficiently if you use the proper tools.
The Importance of Knowing Which Type of Content Works
At the end of the day, your content needs to convert readers into buyers. In order to do that, first you need to know your audience. When generating content, keep your customer’s profile to the fore of your mind. Before writing or sharing something, take a minute to get a clear, detailed image of the person you are addressing. It’s like when you’re looking to buy a present for a friend. You think about his personality, what his passions are, what he appreciates and values and only after that do you make a a list of potential gifts.
What you really want from your audience is a reaction. You don’t want to generate something that will leave people indifferent. No matter what, you want a reaction from your audience, since any form of feedback can bring you so much value: you can find out which content works and which doesn’t and you can also get great insights about your potential customers. Your content should make people feel intrigued enough to share it with others and to come back to your website. The stronger the emotions, the higher the number of likes and shares.
[pullquote]The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusions. – Donald Caine[/pullquote]
“Keep your friends close but your enemies closer” is not only a well-known saying, but also a valid business model concept. Analyzing your competitors doesn’t turn you into the villain from the superhero movies. It’s just a great way of achieving efficiency and success.
It is very important to know which content works and which does not in relation to your audience. It may be that your competitors already wrote various kinds of articles and you may identify what type of content is not likely to be shared. The greater clarity you develop regarding your competitor, the better you will be able to compete effectively.
Here are some helpful questions to answer on your way to success:
- What special feature or benefit does your competitor’s product or service have?
- What is your competitor’s unique selling proposition?
- Who is your competition for what you sell, with the exact customers you are trying to attract?
- Why do your potential customers buy from your competitors? What advantages might they perceive?
- What can you offer that your competitor cannot?
- What are your competitor’s vulnerabilities? How could you exploit them to your advantage?
How to Identify the Most Engaging Content of a Site? (Case Study)
We often sense what our competitor’s most engaging and shared content is, but even if you have a lot of experience in the field, it helps to rely on real facts and statistics provided by specialized tools.
[pullquote]If you know both yourself and your enemy, you will prevail in a hundred battles. – Sun Tzu[/pullquote]
For a better understanding, let’s do an analysis of a website and its main competitor to see how we can best take advantage of their social footprint. The site was analyzed using the cognitiveSEO Social Visibility module, a tool set to whom I am the founder and chief architect.
For this analysis we chose atlantabotanicalgarden.org and their main competitor callawaygardens.com, two random sites I picked up from the “atlanta gardens” niche.
First, let’s see how the two websites stand when it comes to the number of shares and the social distribution.
Even if the atlantabotanicalgarden.org site is doing far better with the number of total shares on Facebook, it loses ground with other social networks, like Twitter. While it scores more in the number of total shares, callawaygardens.com might have a competitive edge as it diversified its social field of action.
Another great thing you can find out by studying the social visibility analysis is the list of the most shared pages of your competitor. With this info it’s super easy to see the whole story on the most popular content for any page on any site. Looking at the snapshot below we can not only see the most shared pages but we can also figure out on what specific social network each is shared. This helps you figure out what type of content works best on what type of network and get an accurate image of your competitor’s strategy.
[pullquote]Concentrate your strengths against your competitor’s relative weakness. – Bruce Henderson[/pullquote]
Does your competitor share the same type of content on every social network, or does he have a specific kind of content for each online communication channel? The answer to these questions can be revealed just by taking a look at the social chart and profile of the site. Even more, you can track your competitors’ sites and get notified when one of their pages starts to gain social popularity.
How can this feature help you with your business? You can easily spot growth and decrease patterns from to figure out what type of content works and what sort of content you shouldn’t focus on. You can practically identify the social life-time of each piece of content.
Have you ever wondered how and if the link building strategy of your competitor correlates with its social media strategy? The number of shares influences the links and vice versa, but this might be a bit hard to understand and analyze without a comprehensive visualization. As we can see in the chart below, it’s pretty easy to figure out the growth correlation between the social shares and links pointing to a site.
The “Average Facebook total” spline shows you how the “Callaway Gardens” shares correlate with the average referring domains. Each dot represents each page on the site. The large number of pages that are in the low left quadrant indicates that most of the pages on this site have less than 250 shares and less than 12 referring domains. Looking at the trend given by the spline, it’s interesting to notice that as the pages tend to get more shares, they don’t tend to also get more links. This is on a case by case basis and generic studies that say a high number of shares reflect a higher number of links in general are flawed.
Keeping track of your competitor’s social strategy might bring extra money in your pocket and extra time in your agenda. As we have seen, the content you thought could be shared is very likely not to being shared. Also, your competitor’s success might not be due to some magical, twisted strategy but to a plan of action that you can easily understand. With the appropriate tools you can identify your flaws and focus your efforts on generating the correct content for your audience. Don’t look at your competition as a source problems. Competition helps you understand better your core audience, might lead to innovation, and may convince you to up your game. If you keep running, the competition will bite you but if you stand still, it will definitely swallow you.
What do you think about the importance of knowing which content works best for your site and competitors?
Featured photo via: https://www.flickr.com/photos/eileensanda/4743524943