We all know the old cliché that content is king, and it is hard to argue. However, kings have a long and often bloody history of being toppled, so always need to be on their toes. They should be seen to be learning from and listening to their peers and their subjects as much as they should be leading from the front. And this is where real-time content optimisation comes in (and, thankfully, where my awful analogy ends).
Real-time content optimisation, a marketing buzz term, but one that I am proudly guilty of using with clients, is a truly exciting prospect – marketing your product, service or message to your audience ‘on the fly’, backed up by data. Audiences crave context and relevance when consuming content. With this in mind, below are a few things to consider when moving into real-time content:
Planning, planning, planning
This may seem like the least logical step for real-time content, but having a calendar of major events – sporting, national, birthdays, holidays etc. – makes monitoring the conversations and preparing relevant content a whole lot easier. Be prepared to monitor the buzz, and reacting to it will seem far more natural to the audience.
Understand your audience
This may seem like an obvious thing to say, but in order for your content to really resonate with the audience, the importance of truly knowing who they are cannot be underestimated. The other brands they are likely to follow; the TV shows they watch; the music/bands they listen to; the celebrities they like and follow – it will all add up to better reactive content, and can inform your ‘planned’ real-time content too.
Use the right tools
Being on top of current affairs and events is as important as being prepared for them – by the time a story is trending, it is already too late. Using the old tactic of news-jacking, whether that’s by reading the morning papers or with RSS feeds or aggregation tools like Feedly or Flipboard, will help you keep on top of current affairs. But using tools like Google Trends (now with real-time data) means you can monitor conversations people are having around, and in addition to, other topics or issues. and produce your content accordingly. It always pays to be one step ahead rather than one step behind – you want your content to be King ahead of anyone else’s.
Test and learn
Every time you post to your channels, you have the opportunity to learn something about your audience – how they react to content shapes your planning for the future. Altering the length, tone and format of posts have long been ways of testing what the audience does or does not like. But combining different elements of those tests with every post – planned or reactive – will give you a constant source of data to hone your content tactics. Audience behaviours change as often as the weather, so there’s no chance of resting on our laurels.
This is no means a comprehensive list, but it should provide some food for thought and some first steps to becoming fully real-time. And from a content perspective, I will finish on the most salient point – remember that no content will ever be perfect. But using the vast amount of data that is now at our disposable, we can strive to get as close to perfect as we can.
If, however, you do ever think you’ve reached perfection with a post, it will be out of date and deposed from its throne before you know it. But at least you’ll know how to get back to the top – by optimising your content in real time.