Sarah Buchanan is the Lead Content Strategist at Sullivan, Higdon & Sink. Her role is to create strategy for content and plan to implement that content marketing strategy for clients to get their audiences to take action.
We caught up with Sarah to learn more about how she is using social data in content creation.
Infegy: Can you tell us a little bit more about the digital team at SHS?
Sarah: SHS itself is a full-service advertising agency that has been in business since 1971; the agency has focused more resources to enhance the content strategy over the last couple of years. I was the founding member of the content strategy team, which was created 18 months ago, and has grown to a team of three. In addition to myself, we have added a content strategist and social strategist to the team. We also work with community managers.
SHS uses content strategy to ensure that whatever objective we are executing works fluidly across all channels - rather than coming up with a separate social campaign, or a separate email campaign, or a separate website, even.
Infegy: How would you explain 'content' to someone who is unfamiliar with it?
Sarah: What content means to SHS has evolved over the last 18 months. Content is a necessary way to build trust with consumers in the market space moving forward. Thought leadership and emotional engagement are ways consumers are now demanding value from brands beyond the product.
They want a relationship, and they want the brand to build that loyalty. Content has become the way to deliver that value to an audience.
Infegy: How do you use social media or social data in your role?
Sarah: What people see as content is only the tip of the iceberg. Entertaining an audience's behaviors, likes, needs, and want through content is how you deliver a strong experience to them. So we use data to break that down.
Data helps inform us on to whom we should be speaking, about what we should be speaking, when we should be speaking to consumers, and what language (or keywords) we should be using For example, we recently suggested a client use a different word to describe a variable within their product so that the customer will be able to search for it and find it more easily online.
We use insights and data from previous campaigns to help inform how we can be more effective in future campaigns. We tweak campaigns as they are running to make sure they are as effective as possible and then at the end, package the data in a way that will help us be more informed the next time around.
Infegy: What is the biggest challenge you face using social data?
Sarah: The biggest challenge is trying to nail down social to a single approach. I have been working in social for over 10 years, and that has always been the struggle. It is an ever-evolving space.
On top of that, the wants and needs of a customer are evolving too, so each channel we use to communicate is like a constantly moving target. I would say that six years ago social was a community for word-of-mouth and conversation, but now it is a media channel. Because of all this, social can't be confined to one thing.
Infegy: What are some of your favorite ways that you have used social data to create content?
Sarah: The project that I am most proud of is for an agriculture animal health pharmaceutical company. We are in the process of building a new web-content platform for different audience segments. They're moving from focusing exclusively on delivering products, and are now more focused on providing the information their audience desires about their industry.
We have used social data as well as keyword analysis to help build out exactly what content is going ot live on that site, and it has evolved into a publication and thought leadership platform of sorts. It has been a beast of a project, but we are starting to see it turn into something unique, and I am really proud of it.
Infegy: If you could go back a year and a half ago, what advice would you give yourself about using social data for content strategy?
Sarah: I would say it is important to take a step back and understand the little steps you have to take so you aren't overwhelmed by the big picture.
Another piece of advice would be to persist because it is a lot of work getting through that much data and figuring out how you are going to approach a question. It is really easy to get lost in all of the data when you are researching for content, so it is always good to have a light you are driving towards at the end of the tunnel.
Infegy: What other tools and resources do you use to round out social data in your campaigns?
Sarah: We use secondary research including the GfK MRI and Ipsos Affluent surveys.
The brand strategy team and my team are startibng to work more closely together because we have realized that integrating brand strategy and content strategy thinking into our recommendations definitely brings more value to our clients. We also have a lot of great primary research we lean on.
We wanted to thank Sarah again for sitting down with us to talk about how she uses Infegy Atlas for extracting social insights in her daily work.
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