Anyone working in the planning, creation and roll out of branded content for any brand, whether b2b or b2c, will be accustomed to the challenges that come with making campaigns as successful as possible and maximising the ROI. Time and resources are usually tight, so how can you get the best possible results with what you do have?
There is no silver bullet to digital content success. There are no absolute guarantees that what you have planned and created will bring the results that you hope, but there are ways that you can stack the deck in your favour. We’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite third party tools, most of which are free, or at least have a free version, to help make our life a little easier and give that extra insight that could make all the difference when it comes to creating and promoting digital content that really resonates with your audience and achieves its objectives.
None of these tools are brand new; in fact, some of them have been around for years, but the great thing about most of these third-party tools is that they are constantly evolving, and new features are being added. Even if you have tried some of these tools in the past, we recommend taking a fresh look and seeing what they can do now to help your planning, creation, promotion and reporting on content campaigns in the coming year and beyond.
Content campaign planning stage tools
Often a big hurdle is planning content and campaigns that meet a known need for your target audience in the first place. We use a few different tools to help work out what a good subject matter could be, and a form for the content to take, based on what questions people are asking online and what has worked for other marketers in the past.
Answer the public
Answer the Public has a free version with limited features and a subscription service (currently $99 per month) for those who want to dig deeper in their research and apply more filters e.g. region. Searching for a topic e.g. car insurance, using the free version will give you common questions people ask around that term, then relevant prepositions, which could be a useful keyword research exercise, as well as a wealth of other suggestions.
Buzzsumo has a limited free version and a range of subscription plans (that start at $79 per month currently – a free trial is available). You can search any topic (using a much wider range of filters and getting more results if you have a subscription) and not only see how many social shares piece of content has had, but also the social accounts that have shared them (subscription only) – more on this later. Even with the free version, you can filter by type of content e.g. video, how-to article, infographic etc, based on the type of content you’re thinking of producing. You do only get a limited number of searches per day though on a free account – so use them wisely!
Buzzsumo is a great tool for seeing what has worked in the past on similar subjects to what you’re planning and possibly help you get an idea of what can be achieved if the content is good enough and promoted in the right way. Of course, your content will need to be different from what is already out there if you want it to really take off, so you’ll need to consider how you can make your campaign stand out.
Tools to help you form a promotion/outreach strategy for your content
Using Buzzsumo to identify potential influencers to help amplify your content is a great feature if you have a subscription. When you ‘view sharers’ of a piece of content, you can view stats about the people who shared it, and potentially, if they are a good fit for what you’re trying to achieve, you can add them to your outreach list when it comes to promoting your own campaign.
Socialblade is a free tool that provides some stats about potential influencers that you are considering working with (and their ‘top lists’ might also help with finding some relevant people to target) and can help you judge whether their followers are natural and engaged, or are potentially a ‘bought’ audience that have been paid for by the influencer to inflate their appeal to brands etc. Whilst it isn’t a sure-fire way to tell, this free tool lets you see basic stats such as average engagements (by type or rate) on posts across Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Twitch and more. You can view follower rates over a period of time (depending on platform) to see any spikes (where they may have bought followers or started using a bot) or suspicious activity. It can even give an estimate for Youtubers on how much they could be earning through their channel (advertising-wise, not including brand partnerships, sponsorships etc) per month or annually. Our advice would be to take this all with a pinch of salt, but it can be an interesting and useful exercise to help suss out some influencers or potential brand ambassadors that you haven’t worked with before.
Tools to help with content creation
Canva (for work)
Canva is a design tool that means you can, fairly effortlessly and quickly, make blog and social graphics that actually look good – regardless of how little design experience or knowledge you have. With a monthly subscription costing about a tenner with the exchange rate, Canva for Work offers you so much more than the (albeit very good) free version and helps you to create visual content that just wouldn’t be possible otherwise with time and skill restraints. You can use templates and their vast range of free included stock photos and illustrations, for everything from social posts and gifs to infographics and presentations, giving you a great starting point.
You can use Canva to design whole eBooks, downloadable assets, video titles or graphics and pretty much anything visual that your campaign needs. Whilst it still takes some time and effort, if you don’t have a lot of professional design resource or just need something turned around quickly, Canva can be a total game-changer for content creators.
Tools to help track and measure content success
When it comes to measuring the success of a content marketing campaigns, your overall objectives with shape the most important metrics and KPIs. Along with tools such as Google Analytics, native analytics/insights from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter etc, there are other third-party tools that can help you to tangibly track results, both during and for a short period after a campaign.
Socialmention is a free search engine that enables you to check public social media posts (as well as blogs, videos and more) via any word or hashtag, in pretty much real-time (and posts up to a month old). You can find the top users posting about a subject, measure the sentiment of the conversations and quite simply find out what people are saying about something or a specific brand. If you’re running a campaign using a hashtag, you can see how many people are using it and in what context. You can find individual posts that can act as great feedback on your content and campaign, whether positive or negative, to help you learn and evolve your plan for next time.
This blog contains a just snapshot of some of the tools we use on a regular basis to help us plan, implement and measure effective content marketing campaigns. If you’d like any help with creating content for your brand or any digital marketing assistance, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
For more information about our services please get in touch today on 0800 011 9715 or Enquire HERE!.