When you hear someone talk about “producing content”, what type of imagery does that phrase invoke?
If you imagine someone struggling to finish another dense article while hunched over a keyboard, empty coffee mug beside it, you’re not alone.
There’s little doubt that content marketing is no piece of cake, but producing fresh and insightful material doesn’t have to always resemble the same routine every single time.
Why not let your readers do most of the heavy lifting once in a while?
The team over at Cup.li decided to explore how surveys can be used to spice up anyone’s content strategy and share their findings in this article. By the time you’re done, you might be surprised at the number of ways to leverage user generated content in your marketing or sales activities.
Surveys – A Powerful Enabler of Content
Nine of ten people will tell you that the main use of a survey is to extract valuable data or insight for internal use. But when it comes to inbound marketing, a survey can be much more than that.
1. On social media profiles – engage and provide value to your followers by asking them simple questions, irrespective of whether they’re related to your area of expertise.
As you can see from the examples below, fans not only develop a sense of contribution, but also get a chance to browse through their peers’ responses:
Although a straightforward post containing a question (as the one depicted above) gets the job done, for a more serious data collection and analysis procedure consider using one of several Facebook poll applications, such Cup.li.
2. On a blog – survey your readers or customers and then share, comment, or discuss your findings.
For example, Derek Halpern from SocialTriggers has done this in the past. Below you can see him commenting on the results of a quick survey and offering his advice and perspective on what his readers had to say:
In deciding how to organize and visually present your data, you have lots of formats to choose from: blog summaries, PDF repots, spread out social media posts, and slide deck presentations on hosted on Slideshare. To put this into perspective, a tweet can be a key stat from one of your questions while a Flickr or Pinterest image can be a graph or pie chart image summarizing a portion of your data.
Mind you, this is not all theory. 37Signals have successfully used this exact strategy in the past:
Depending on the initial survey setup and your line of business, you might consider structuring the survey questions to allow for further follow up with one or more of your respondents whose answers you find especially interesting or worthy of further exploration. One option is to interview them on audio or video and feature the conversation itself or summarize it as a case study in text form. The impact of a well put together case study is clear – more social proof, greater visibility, and a better bottom line.
Help Scout, a small business help desk software, utilizes this tactic, interviewing some of their more high profile customers in a series called “Customers We Love:”
Survey findings can also be used as source material for guest posts or pieces on major online media outlets in your space. With a representative sample of responses, your data and the insights it contains will be viewed as unique and valuable in the eyes journalists and influential bloggers.
In the B2B space many firms utilize this tactic extensively, attracting significant attention to their products or services in the process. Econsultancy is no exception: it starts one of its article titled “Four ways to drive engagement with user-generated content ” by highlighting that it’s based on a January 2013 Econsultancy/Adobe report on digital marketing trends” in which over 700 digital professionals took part. The study’s findings have been featured on many other websites, including by Adobe’s own website, on Slideshare, and other niche-specific blogs.
Other Less Common (Though Equally Valuable) Survey-to-Content Ideas
Create a Press Release – if your website has a separate section for press releases or you tend to send them out to journalists, you have an opportunity to take advantage of your survey results. If you put together a press release and include an interesting tidbit of information, there’s a good chance it’ll get picked up by journalist who cover your industry or niche.
Spark a Discussion – if the results of your survey are substantial, you can invite experts and though leaders in your space to comment on or debate your findings via a guest post or through an interview.
Offer a Perspective – armed with meaningful insights on your readers or customers, you now have the authority to comment on various events and other important news in your domain.
Make an Infographic – repurpose your data and analysis into infographic form and make it easy for others to share it.
Leverage News Aggregators – post links to your survey results (in whatever format you choose to publish them) on major news aggregators such as the Reddit or Hacker News. As you can see from the screenshot below, this lengthy discussion is about 37Signal’s customer satisfaction report:
Keep in mind that it’s no longer sufficient to have a great product or service – educating and entertaining you visitors has become equally important. And by now you should have a good understanding of how to use surveys to create a variety of fresh and engaging content by first surveying your readers or customers.
This is a guest post by Igor Khrupa.