How content DJs keep their audience riveted

Put the popular topics into heavy rotation, the perennial favorites into medium rotation, and the emerging topics into light rotation. Here’s how—and why.


You may wonder which topics are best for your website’s home page, e-newsletter, Facebook page, blog, or white paper.

To find the answer, consider yourself a DJ for your content.

What content will you play for your audience today? How will you mix it up so it’s new and fresh while not overly unusual? How will you know how much they like it?

Think of social media as your club floor, your blog as the radio, and your website as a wedding.

As a content DJ, you’ll want to do a mix of things:

  1. Play the favorites: Give the audience what they want, whether it’s a series of posts on the most popular topics or popular posts from last month or year.
  2. Mix it up/add remakes: Reference or link to previous posts that make your point.
  3. Add in the new: This is where you introduce new ideas and original perspectives.

In social media, you might want to devote a higher proportion of your promotions to new or experimental content, and feature popular content on your blog or website.

Start by identifying the “favorites.”

1. Analyze the most-read topics over the past year using:

  • Google trends.
  • Analytics from your website, blogs, and social media channels.
  • The actions people take as a result of reading your material—phone calls, white paper downloads, product purchases, event registrations, etc.

2. Look for patterns of usage—weekdays vs. weekends, time of day, monthly or seasonal.

3. Weed out one-time items—content spikes following an event or situation that won’t likely recur.

4. List the remaining topics in order of popularity. It’s likely there will be a small number at the top—those are the favorites.

Will the audience get bored reading about this small set of topics frequently? Quite the contrary—audiences want to go deeper into subjects that interest them most. There are many ways to examine the same topics from different angles and levels of specificity, using real-life stories, checklists, roundups, etc.

Music DJs, too, get bored by playing Kool & the Gang’s “Celebrate” at every wedding, Lady Gaga at the club, and “Somebody That I Used to Know” from Gotye on the radio. However, those are exactly what audiences want to hear right now.

That’s where the mix-it-up and the new elements/topics come in. While people enjoy familiar territory, they also want to be surprised and learn new information.

Radio station program directors, who compile station playlists, make their decisions about what to add or remove based on what songs are played on other similar stations, what people buy or download on peer-to-peer networks, and which audiences respond best to surveys and focus groups.

These lessons can help you manage digital channels effectively.

  • Create “content playlists” for your website, e-newsletter, blog, and social media.
  • Put the popular topics into heavy rotation, the perennial favorites into medium rotation, and the emerging topics into light rotation.
  • Promote emerging topics with the most popular content, and then evaluate whether it’s an emerging hit or something that should go in the clearance bin quickly.

What are your heavy rotation topics? How have you kept them both fresh and top-of-mind for your audiences? How do you introduce new topics and assess your customers’ interest?

Hilary Marsh is chief content and digital strategist at Content Company, a Chicago-based digital consultancy. A version of this post first appeared on Spin Sucks.

Topics: PR

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