As I continue along in my sporadic series about brand content publishing in a real-time marketing environment, today I'm going to touch on the concept of assessing "conversational demand," in social and network marketing, as opposed to just "keyword demand" in search. For a deeper background and foundation on this topic, I would also recommend reading the following columns: "Marketing in the Moment," "More on Marketing in the Moment," and "Ramping Up For a Bigger Content Publishing Strategy."
Understanding search demand
To better understand "conversational demand," it helps to first consider the concept of "keyword demand." Keyword demand simply means to look deeper and more strategically at keyword metrics, at both a macro and micro level, for the purpose of benchmarking specific themes and topics being sought out in search. A strategic digital content plan takes keyword demand into fundamental consideration, and also considers the available content supply for the given keywords and user search language being assessed. For a couple of examples, think about a gap analysis comparing your own supply of content that matches the search lexicon of your given category in assessing how much opportunity exists for your own company or site; and also consider the amount of content being provided by both direct and indirect competition against the same or similar set.
Though the concept of creating content to match keyword research and volumes has been a basic mantra of search marketing (both paid and natural) since it began in the mid-late '90's, it seems that brands are just now beginning to wake up to the possibilities of actively producing content on a massive scale to meet ongoing keyword demand. Clearly, the gap between the amounts of content produced by 99.9% of major brands versus the demand is staggering, and can be decreased by simply embracing the concept of active publishing and real-time marketing. As I've stated in previous columns, new companies will be built on this concept, and others will start to lag far behind, or even get crushed in the fast moving world of real-time marketing.
Understanding conversational demand
While the concept of "keyword research" and "keyword demand" may not be so new, the concept of conversational demand may considered entirely new for lagging enterprise brands, but it is just as important in cultivating a solid real-time marketing strategy with search and social at the core. Brands embracing real-time search and social publishing must be fluid, and active in production and engagement. Being active means being alive and in the moment in a web landscape that is moving instantaneously, in terms of both content creation and assessing what is on people's minds at any given time. Content strategies are anything but passive, even if the goal is to achieve content success in search alone, particularly because search engines look to active social cues in how they determine results for a significant number of queries.
But being active and agile means being engaging with your audience, and also knowing that conversation is content. Other factors in being successful with social content strategies (as a result of analyzing conversation demand) include:
1) Knowing what your audience is looking for
2) Knowing where they seek it out
3) Knowing how they communicate
4) Knowing which types of digital assets are critical
5) Communicating back properly, with the right answer, in the right way, with utmost sincerity, and with a strategic approach in mind
Determining and assessing conversational demand is much more complex than assessing keyword demand, which is often successfully accomplished with a good keyword tool, and a good brain. Social conversation demand is much more subjective, and can be assessed in a single network, or a variety of networks. The main methods used are the same, though: good tools, and good brains, with a heavy emphasis on the latter. Your company's answer to assessing conversational demand might exist on either Twitter, Facebook, forums, blogs, comments on blogs, answer sites or any combination of those.
But again, keep in mind that once you have assessed the demand that exists in conversation, you have to work toward meeting it with your own content and conversation, or else the exercise is moot.