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Editor's Note: This post was originally created by Spredfast before Spredfast and Lithium merged and became Khoros.
In our latest report, our research team sought to uncover the most popular financial questions consumers ask by mining Google Trends data. We suspected that there may be a gap between supply and demand when it comes to information finserv brands post about: in other words, are customers seeking information about questions that brands are not currently answering?
The short answer is yes. In the report, we found that combining social media analysis with search analysis reveals important gaps in knowledge between brands and consumers. Some of the most Googled questions about money (e.g. “how to deal with financial stress?”) are not topics that get much coverage by finserv brands. But finserv companies aren’t alone in neglecting consumer inquiries. Many of the most searched product-related questions on Google are left unaddressed by even the most socially savvy brands. We see this as a problem, but also an opportunity: brands from all industries can and should be looking at how their social content mix differs from what their audience is searching on Google in order to discover new topics to drive their content calendar and strategies.
The first step in determining whether or not your content mix matches what your audience is searching is simple: know your content. This seems like an obvious rule, yet many brands are unaware of the exact mix of topics they post about over time. If you can’t answer what percentage of your social content was about one topic versus another over the past month, it is probably time for a content audit. Once you’re aware of the topics your brand posts about most, you can then turn to Google Trends to find out if your audience is looking for the types of content your brand is putting out.
To illustrate how to use search to inform content, we’ll use the food industry as an example—a space that has long been accustomed to constantly shifting trends. Let’s say one-third of a nutrition brands’ content consists of vegan recipes, another third paleo, and the remaining third consists of keto meal plans. How can a marketer predict how this content mix should evolve over time to match consumers’ shifting tastes?
Using the content categories that your brand is already posting about (vegan, paleo, and keto recipes in this case), you can then turn to Google Trends to see how often consumers are searching for content related to those categories. If consumers are searching for vegan recipes much more often than they are searching for paleo or keto recipes (spoiler alert: they are), it’s a sign that nutrition brands should consider adjusting their content mix accordingly.
Comparing your current content mix to search volume does have one glaring downfall: though the approach lets you know what to post about more or less often, it doesn’t tell you what new trends are on the horizon. In order to predict what to post about next, marketers should also be looking at search queries that are on the rise.
Going back to our nutrition example, we saw that searches for vegan recipes outnumbered searches for keto recipes in March 2018 by 46%, signaling a need for more content catering to vegans as opposed to keto dieters. However, brands should also be aware of how search volume has changed for those terms over time. If we look at the volume of searches for vegan, paleo, and keto recipes over the past two years, we see that searches for paleo recipes are declining, while more and more people are searching for vegan or keto recipes.
Once you identify which of the content topics are increasing in popularity, most (keto recipes, in our example), you can then look for emerging sub-topics related to that trend to inform new content categories. The “related queries” section in Google Trends is automatically set to show you which topics are rising in popularity most rapidly. Though some of these topics will be seasonal trends (e.g. “keto Easter recipes” in the example below), others will be less predictable. For example, nutrition brands may not be aware that searches for “keto cabbage recipes” increased by 130% over the course of March. The ability to surface these rising trends can help brands plan what new topics to introduce on social next.
This three-step strategy of defining your brands’ core content topics, adjusting your content mix to focus on the most-searched topics, and planning new topics based on trending searches is an easy way to ensure your brand’s content mix is meeting your audience’s needs.