Chris Lee

Head of Social Media Knowledge

Grayling London, Soho

Public relations professionals should lead their clients’ content strategies. Why? Because we are equipped to tell stories in a creative manner and have relationships with the influencers who can help us spread those stories.

However, content needs to be relevant to audiences to resonate, spread, and help fulfill a business objective, and data should lie at the core of the narrative to make sure it stands the best chance of hitting the mark. This was the key theme behind the presentation from Grayling’s Head of Global Insights, Johary Rafidison, at the Content Marketing Show in London last week.

The three core takeaways for those new to data analysis are:

  • Most of the data you need is already available

  • Use data to tell your story

  • Make the most of the many cheap or free tools to help you mine the data

It’s core to trust what people do, not what they say, to get an accurate view of their interests and behaviours. That’s where tools such as Google Trends, Google Analytics, Google Keyword Planner or Facebook Insights are invaluable as they see people’s real behaviour; what they search for and using which words, what content they consume and share. That’s what people do.

As Content Marketing Show sponsor Idio points out in this post, marketers need to be careful relying solely on what people say on social media, as people tend to curate false impressions of themselves on social networks.

Bringing data to life

However, social behaviour does give us insights to networks of influence. It always helps to present data in an exciting but informative format, and for this Johary demonstrated Gephi. What looks like a disorganised blob of dots is actually a data visualisation of the use of the hashtag #BrightonSEO from the BrightonSEO conference in April 2014. Each dot is a retweet and four key influencers’ networks are outlined by different colours, clearly displaying unique networks which sometimes overlap.


Another data mapping tool we use at Grayling which Johary talked about is CartoDB, which was used extensively during the World Cup to show the time, location and frequency of tweets. It’s up to us as consultants to add insights to what this data means. With just a simple demo using #BrightonSEO (below) we can see that the early chat around the event is from pretty much anywhere in the UK except Brighton itself. That was probably because attendees were tweeting that they were on their way or that they were looking forward to following it online.  Tweets from Brighton itself kicked off in earnest around 07.00 and for the rest of the day predominantly came from Brighton and London, implying the core audience is, as you’d expect, in the UK’s two key digital cities.

Use data for storytelling

So we know how to mine data and how to interpret what it tells us. What happens from then on in terms of how that data informs our content strategies is up to us.

Stephen Waddington of Ketchum and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) issued a timely reminder to attendees that we need to think before we post.

“There’s enough sh*t on the internet already,” he warned. “Don’t add to it."

If you would like to know more about how you can mine data, and create content and engagement strategies on the back of that, please get in touch.
(Header image courtesy of Content Marketing Show)