May 13th 2020

INSTA VS. REALITY – HOW TO GATHER REAL SEARCH INSIGHTS ABOUT YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE

Having been inspired by Declan’s blog on Tiger King meets SEO Queen, I thought I would take the plunge in to the world of search-led insights. I’ve always been fascinated with social listening tools and gathering killer insights for planning, and recently immersed myself in SEO while developing Babel’s new website. But there are always new tools being released and new approaches to SEO being championed – meaning there’s always more to learn.

Traditionally, the bread and butter of PR was customer insight (when you can get your hands on the data!) and, of course, our old favourite, research, and using these to fuel our campaigns. However, I have seen the focus shift a lot over the last five years to a reliance on sturdier insights to not only power your PR campaign and achieve end goals, but also to inform the initial strategy and approach. In some cases, these insights are also being used to change the actual service or product you are looking to PR. It sounds simple, but getting to know what your audience wants, needs, and essentially what they are searching for, can hold a lot of answers.

As an agency, Babel uses a variety of tools to inform our client campaigns. One that stands out is Answer The Public, which has an awesome free version that really shows you what people are searching for. I recently listened to one of its webinars with guests from Coverage Book (another great tool we use) and Search Listening, and I wanted to share the top insights I gleaned from their discussion.

‘IF PEOPLE LIVE THEIR BEST LIFE ON INSTA, THEY LIVE THEIR REAL LIFE ON GOOGLE’

This comment by one of the webinar’s participants really stood out to me as with all the fake news and backlash against filtered lives lived on social media, where do we really find the truth? Well, there are over 3.5 billion Google searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year. This is a huge vat of information, truths and topicality that is ready and waiting to be mined for real-time insights.

The participants then raised a very fair point. Even before the current pandemic there was a brewing backlash against fakery and question marks on the Insta reality. Now more than ever people want brands to be authentic, empathetic and relevant. The key to achieving this sits with Google – a treasure trove of what people are really searching for.

What I loved was the point the webinar hosts made about honesty and the real truth being held in search. Social listening offers hugely valuable insights, but in some cases these insights can be clouded by a filter (in more ways then one). She gave a good example of searching #newbaby on Instagram, which pulls up a series of gorgeous filtered pictures of mothering bliss. However, if you compare this to a ‘new baby’ Google search, you’re confronted with the reality I’m so familiar with as a mother of two: results showing answers to search queries for ‘new baby’ constipation/sick/temperature and so much more. Search can offer a richer information set.

As a History graduate, I’m definitely more comfortable reading insight reports than attempting to play data scientist. But the tools the webinar attendees referenced are very easy to use and have been a huge source of insights for Babel’s PR campaigns. Here are the top three that featured on the webinar, though if you’re looking for more PR tools, Matt’s blog has some great additions:

  • Google trends – you can see search trends over different time periods, categorised search options, related queries, web/image search and so much more.
  • Google suggestions – what comes up in the box when you start typing into Google can show you a lot about what people are searching for in relation to that brand/issue/query. You can also de-personalise the results by signing out of your profiles to get a wider view
  • Answer the public – basically does all of this collectively and in one place. Plus has a slightly freaky guy making the faces you likely pull when searching! But aside from that, I’ve found it to be a very useful and informative tool that gives an almost instant snapshot of search trends and associated words/phrases, and in the premium tool you can quickly identify new trends between searches and much more

BUT WHAT DOES SEARCH INSIGHT MEAN FOR PR?

As the wife of a long-term Liverpool fan, I particularly enjoyed the example given of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp answering the web’s most searched questions about himself. As PRs we should be embracing the opportunity to unveil and answer what the greater public really want to know about the brands we represent. Using it to fuel tactics like this example, but also in planning content themes and identifying shifting trends, and then using these insights to better inform each of our client’s brand positioning and reputation management.

And you may be thinking, but where does this sit for B2B? The answer is, in exactly the same place. The trick though is to not rely on jargon and complicated acronyms, and instead focus on the end customer – what would they be searching for that’s relatable to you?

Essentially, the opportunities are huge. With a call for brands to be more empathetic and human, there’s no better time for search to shine as a PR’s must-have resource.