There are two elements to be concerned with when determining if your content’s mind-blowing or just meh. One is the style. Technical writing can bore even the most avid developer if it’s done wrong. The second –– Is your content compelling from a relevance standpoint? Technical relevance includes attributes such as usefulness, timeliness, and accuracy. That brings us to the art and science of selecting technical topics.
If You Say Persona Again, I’ll…
Sorry. Let’s call it “audience segmentation” and walk briskly away. But, seriously, be very specific about who comprises your audience. To do this effectively, you need to know their technical expertise, demographics, psychographics, and their role in the decision.
To the chagrin of technical content marketers, it’s very likely you have to satisfy a complex audience. If that is the case, you should have a primary audience in mind for each piece of content you produce.
Time-Sensitive or Timeless?
Remember, usefulness is more important than any other factor when it comes to topic selection. But, some content topics will have a time stamp on them. If there’s a burning issue that your audience is talking about, it may only be interesting for a short period of time. These topics should be assigned and addressed rapidly.
However, if the object is to create content that is more evergreen, such as when you’re populating a content calendar for a lengthy campaign that goes live in a few weeks or months, then your topic selection process will be different.
Listening to Your Audience
Where are they?
How do you find your audience? To get more information, we spoke with Avinash Harsh, founder of Weavr, a listening platform designed specifically for understanding, supporting and engaging with developer and technical audiences. Below is a brief synopsis of our questions and Harsh’s recommendations.
What steps can brands take to find their audience?
Harsh recommends a so-called “ 3S framework” that addresses support, sources, and segmentation. As Harsh says, “A 3S framerwork works great to find and engage with users, especially when it comes to technical people or developers as your audience.”
Inside the 3S Framework
Support: Want developers to like your content? Then write stuff that supports or educates them. You can figure out what resonates with your audience by seeking out domain-specific communities and building your articles around discussion you find there.
Sources: Popular sources are known to all, but you can reach the best possible audience by keeping an updated list of niche, domain-specific communities and forums for each segment and product you address. It’s a great way also to reach grassroot-level external enthusiasts. Industry events are another great source to find the right audience.
Segmentation: All developers are important, but knowing and segmenting the most important developer personas serious value to the organization.
Once found, what process should brands use to understand what technical topics to address and when?
What to write?
Harsh recommends analyzing overall patterns from audience discussions. “It’s not trivial,” he acknowledges, saying, “It is the best way to build the right technical content. At Weavr, we analyze 1,200-plus developer and technology sources and provide an aggregated list of keywords and topics that developers associate to a particular brand or a technology.”
He suggests that along with the topic analysis for your audience, pay attention to what your competitors are addressing that’s gaining traction. Says Harsh, “Keeping tabs on your competition’s content is an important aspect of topic selection. These topics and keywords should be a part of the content building.”
And don’t overlook Google Trends and Keyword Research, which is a great tool for tracking relevant topics, allowing you to see the types of searches being made.
When to write?
Harsh offers this analogy, “Great technical content writing is much like surfing. Like a good surfer needs the right wave, a good content team needs to keep an eye on when and where to participate in the conversation to appropriately share content links.”
So how do you find the wave? Harsh says that participating in discussions with the right context and at the right time will get you the most mileage. He suggests looking for conversation threads that are ‘Not answered’ or ‘most answered’ and providing links to content that is relevant to those questions and discussions. Says Harsh, “The community will thank you for the timely response.”
What channels did Weavr choose to focus on and why?
Harsh notes that technology and developer channels are evolving fast with niche technology forums and channels being added on a weekly basis, adding to the overall chatter and noise.
”Since removing the noise and bringing true timely signals with insights is our mission, these channels are selected purely based on their relevance, authenticity and overall reach,” Harsh explains.
What does your platform do that uniquely helps brands select technical topics?
Harsh says that Weavr AI has created what he calls a “Tech Knowledge Graph” and a machine learning engine to help surface aggregated content insight in the technology space. The insight from that effort includes:
- Overall activity trends for any tech sector or tech brand
- Top keywords and topics associated with specific technology domains
- Share of voice metrics against competitors based on content type, content sources and personas
- Top voices and influencers in specific tech sectors
Avoid the Meh
You can achieve excitement and energy about a topic matter, even with a skeptical, technical audience. But you can’t sacrifice content usefulness or accuracy just to strike while a topic is hot. The most important thing is to optimize the topic selection process, and provide compelling insight and information for your target audience.