Do you listen to your prospects and customers? Do you know what your competition is talking about and what they’re publishing? What about content trends and industry news? In order to create relevant, timely, and valuable content for your prospects and customers it’s important to have a content listening plan.

What is a Content Listening Plan?

A content listening plan is a valuable part of any content creation strategy. In order to know what to write or talk about, it’s helpful to know what’s going on in the world around you. A content listening plan includes a strategy to track the conversations of your prospects, customers, industry leaders, you’re your competition. It also involves establishing systems to track those conversations. Finally, a listening plan should also include a process where you take what you’ve “heard” and use it to identify content ideas and headlines.

The Elements of Your Content Listening Plan

The first element of a content listening plan is keyword research. What keywords does your audience use to find information? Now, this isn’t something you sit down and research once a year. The keywords and phrases change and they can evolve quickly. You may want to conduct keyword research quarterly or even monthly. You can use your analytics as well as keyword research tools to stay on top of relevant keywords and phrases.

The second element is a social media trend analysis. What are people talking about and why? Then why is important because it identifies opportunities. For example, if everyone is talking about  Mylie Cyrus and her inappropriate behavior and you’re a mom blogger then there’s an opportunity to blog about how to talk to your kids about Mylie, how to identify risky behavior, and so on. Identify why people are talking about a hot social media topic and relate it to your niche and audience. What problem do they need to solve and how can you help? You can use a trending topic and hashtag research tools to identify social media topic trends.

Another element is the newsworthy element. What’s going on in your industry? You can set up Google alerts to alert you every time a keyword or keyword phrase is used online. This is also helpful to track your competition.

Each of these elements requires a system. You can leverage technology to have the information sent to you via email or downloaded to a database. The next step is putting the information to good use.

Using Your Content Listening Plan

How often do you brainstorm content and create a plan? For example, do you plan your content monthly? Whatever your editorial calendar says, schedule a time each month to review the information you’ve gathered via your listening plan. You’ll be able to brainstorm timely, relevant, and valuable content if you listen closely to your audience and respond to their interests and needs.