Where to find data that matters to inspire creativity that counts. (Originally published on LinkedIn)
Interested in developing creative concepts your best brand audience cares about and wants to share? Start with data. Survey-based tools are great but they tell a different, slower story than what you see from passive observation of digital behaviors. It’s the difference between a face-to-face conversation with a few and being a fly on a million walls.
Here are 5 approaches and vendors to help you be that fly on millions of digital walls and maybe kick off your next creative effort with some fresh data.
1. Discover what your perfect target cares about
If you know that customers who spend the most money on your website are huge fans of Lady Gaga and Doritos, you’d include that information when you briefed a creative team, right?
Give users the option to sign into your website or sweepstakes landing page with Facebook and you gain access to much more than just their contact information. What kind of music do they like? What other brands do they like? Where do they work?
Start things off with a vendor like Umbel that serves up thousands of data points in lightning-fast clickable dashboards that layer social with CRM, Axiom and cookie data even anti-social CMO’s will drool over.
2. Identify where content like yours is being shared
If you knew people were three times more likely to tweet about your product than share it on Pinterest, wouldn’t you tell your creative team to skip the pin-it-to-win-it concepts?
Many publishers still rely on 3 party sharing widgets to make it easy for readers to share content. The teams behind those widgets quietly indexed the content, where it was being shared, and handed everybody a cookie on the way out the door. Now they’ve even begun to layer on device-specific data so you know if something happened on a tablet, desktop, or mobile device.
You may already know ShareThis or AddThis as a media partner but you should also consider them a source of insights on how large groups of people share content about your category or specific product.
Disclosure: Mullen/mediahub has a strategic partnership with ShareThis for what I hope are obvious reasons.
3. Get on location with your target
If you want to be the mayor of data-driven creativity, you need to know where people who look like your target are bothering to whip out their phones and engage with content or their surroundings.
In spite of how weird it seems to me personally that somebody would always want to share their location, checking in online when you show up someplace offline has captured the interest of millions. Lucky for marketers, Foursquare quickly realized that better data was more important than more users and is offering their intelligence to brands. They don’t yet offer a subscription-based data offering so you’ll need to cozy up to your digital media team and have them negotiate for additional data.
4. Know what your target is looking for
Say you’re talking to a dog food brand about a new campaign, wouldn’t you want to know that it’s not just puppies that are popular online, but bulldog puppies?
Finding the questions people ask that could be answered by your brand is a wonderful place to begin when you’re wondering what to look at besides survey results.
Google has done a solid job of serving up search trends in their toolkits but few people seem to care about them or use them. That’s unfortunate. If you’re really feeling adventurous, go beyond the top search engines and ask top media partners about site-specific search trends so you know what your target is looking for but can’t find immediately when they visit the site.
5. See what topical influencers care to share
If you’re attempting to develop creative concepts that people who influence your target will want to share, wouldn’t you love to already have your finger on the pulse of what those influencers share every day?
While everybody else is obsessed with trying to make branded content that relates to macro trending topics like the Royal Baby or Kimye, I highly suggest you step away from the Oreo-obsessed fray and look instead at relevant micro trends and the people who influence them.
The approach is slightly different depending on the platform but here’s a simple example: Pick 100 active Twitter users with substantial followings who talk about things that are relevant to your brand. Enter all their usernames as author filters into a tool like Netbase and you’ll get a real-time stream of topics the people your target listens to will share.
If you’ve found other tools helpful or approaches to data that inspire creative thinking based on digital behaviors, do the world a favor and add your thoughts in a comment on LinkedIn here. Proprietary today is commonplace tomorrow and we all benefit when we share.