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How Do I Perform Creative Content Research?

One of the more common questions that people who regularly have to generate content is how do I perform creative content research? Of course that assume you know what creative content research is, which unfortunately not everyone does.

Rather than putting the cart before the horse, let’s cover the concept of creative content research and then dive into why and how you should perform it.

Understanding CCR

There is a marketing saying of, “If content is the king then creativity is the queen.” In the world of SEO you need to have good, creative content to succeed and many businesses spend a great deal of time brainstorming to try and find those great ideas that they can turn into content gold.

But is that the best way to go about it?

Some companies, ours included, feel that the practice of creative content research is actually a much more effective way to start the process of creating great content. The idea is that by performing research first, you are taking apart something successful to find out the nuts and bolts that comprise the popularity.

You start by looking at what websites are publishing along with what people are sharing. This can be competitors, industry leaders or virtually anything that is related to what you do as a business. By doing this important research step you are learning about the competition, what works, what doesn’t work and the like.

This gives you a tremendous advantage and valuable insight when it then comes to actually crafting content because you will be better able to brainstorm and create compelling ideas as you are aware of exactly what is out there.

Some people start with brainstorming and spend a lot of time generating ideas only to have those ideas eliminated in the research phase when they discover other people have already thoroughly covered them.

So how do I do CCR?

Here is a basic model that will work for most types of content creators:

  • Create your brief – The brief is the general demographic of a target audience. For example, you will want to consider the age, sex and social status of an audience. You will want to understand what they care about and the problems they are looking to solve. What are their interests? Where do they shop? What do they buy? What do they read or watch? Who are their primary influencers? What do they do and where do they go online?
  • Create your website list – Where would you like to be published? Create a Top 10 or Top 20 lists of sites that you want exposure on.
  • Create a general topics list – What this step entails is to understand the general topic categories you will create content for. For example, a mortgage company might write about interest rates, home prices, budgeting, real estate or anything related to homes. You need to be aggressive in considering topics that aren’t just about your business but also include things that a customer base loves.
  • Start the research – Now that you have narrowed down more of what you are looking for, start searching to find it. When you find a piece of content that is interesting track the title, shares, links, notes about why it seems interesting, notes on positive or negative comments it received, and possible ideas on how to do something similar or an offshoot of the piece. You can follow threads, note sites that get lots of shares and even check forums that get linked to with conversations to understand more.
  • Places to look – You can start with the target audience and review feeds or social profiles to work backwards and see what else they are into and share. Oh, I see they liked our site and also liked 5 other similar sites; let’s go look at those sites.
  • Tools to use – Open Site Explorer and Buzzsumo are both great tools to use for content analysis and running domain level reports to see link and social share data.
  • Convert data to knowledge – So you have done the legwork and now have amassed data, but what does it tell you? Your goal is to see what is being published and then what is popular and being shared. If you have done enough research you will be able to track threads and patterns that link things together and make sense as to what is important or interesting to the target audience.

It’s all about the CCR baby!

Now that you have completed the CCR process you are in a much better position to start brainstorming because you have a better direction and more focus for those efforts. Generally you will have also come up with some good ideas for offshoots of existing ideas or even filling in gaps other people left out. That is why understanding how to perform creative content research and then implementing the process is so useful in generating great material!

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