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            ‘Big data’ has become an often-used, if poorly defined, buzz term. In general, it refers to the large amounts of data generated in our information-rich world. This data is underutilized, and many believe that if we could appropriately ‘mine’ big data, we could reach new heights of efficiency and productivity.

            Big data is a huge challenge because it is generally so high in volume and so low in structure that it cannot be analyzed in traditional ways. But the potential for those who can understand it are huge. Everyone from sports teams who want to analyze a player’s every move to philanthropic organizations that need to understand how to help the world stand to benefit. And many companies are making serious inroads into the brave new world of data investigation.

            But what does all of this have to do with content marketing? Quite a bit, as it turns out. Big data holds more than numbers – it holds tremendous goldmines of content. The data from who says what to who today, and who cares about that statement, can turn the content marketing world upside down.

Who’s Talking, and Who’s Listening?

            Content doesn’t mean much if someone doesn’t read it, enjoy it, and share it. Getting content that really matters for your company is an issue of understanding social data. There are many companies who already allow you to track social media mentions of your company and allow real-time customer service in the social space. This is one bite-sized way to understand the constant flow of information. Many companies feel that’s the best they can do. However, there is a lot more to gain from big data.

            One thing that can be done is to try to understand why things go viral. So far no one has been able to pin it down. But out there in big data, there’s a huge record of likes, emails, and shares. Being able to understand what exactly people like so much in viral content is a huge content marketing challenge.

Mining Big Data for Content Creation

            Face it, most companies don’t have the time or resources to create original, relevant content from scratch. However, many companies have tons and tons of content already created, and most exist in industries where more content is created every day. Harnessing that content flow can be the difference between success and utter failure in a dynamic content world.

            Search engines such as Google are becoming increasingly smart to the lazy, irrelevant content that many were creating in order to get visibility. Harnessing the ‘big data’ of content that already exists in your own company is the first step you can take to being relevant in search. What materials are already created? What ideas were started but scrapped partway? What flyers does the marketing manager have in the bottom of his desk drawer? How can all of this data – this content – be dusted off and used on the company blog or Twitter stream?

            After you’ve mined your company’s content stores, you can move on to the larger picture of industry data. What is going on in the industry information stream? What news stories have been published, press releases printed, and tweets sent and blogs updated? What are those things saying about your company and industry that you can capitalize on and feed back into your own content stream?

            Big data isn’t just about number crunching. Not only can you look into the data to find the key characteristics of viral content, it holds a wealth of content that can be adapted, edited, and reused in your content marketing stream. Don’t feel like you have to do it all from scratch. Let big data buoy your content marketing efforts. 

Does big data affect your content marketing? Share in the comments! 


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