From ebooks to videos, tweets to newsletters, content marketing is witnessing explosive growth. According to the Content Marketing Institute [PDF], 44 percent of B2B marketers have a documented content strategy, and 73 percent have a dedicated person to oversee its implementation.

But just as with any other marketing tactic, content marketing does not exist within a silo. The most effective content is baked into an organization’s overall marketing strategy – which includes a deep understanding of its audience.

Great content must be tailored to its audience. After all, if you write a spectacular ebook about the coming trends in nanotechnology, but you are speaking to high school students who are more interested in music video awards than molecules, you won’t see much engagement.

There is a two-way relationship between content and its audience. First, you must learn who you are targeting, and create great content that will speak to their interests, lifestyle and behavior. Then, once you have a firm understanding of your audience, you can allow their interests, lifestyle and behavior to inform your content strategy.

To put it simply: You are creating content for your audience, yes, but your audience can also help you create content.

The first step towards this virtuous content cycle is, of course, to know your audience. Leveraging social media, you can uncover aggregate data about your audience’s age, marital status, employment status, favorite brands, level of influence, common topics of conversation and much more. From here, it is a simple matter of brainstorming topics for future whitepapers, blog posts, tweets and other pieces of content. And once this content is published, you can measure how your audience interacts with it to determine the best performing pieces and adjust your content strategy in the future.

To give you some inspiration, here are a few ways that your audience’s social behavior can inspire your content and content strategy:

  • Your audience regularly tweets about a particular sports website, so you write a sports ebook, build a dedicated landing page and advertise it on that site.
  • The basic demographic data you’ve collected about your social audience shows that they are 25-35 year-old working professionals, so you create bite-sized content that they can read on their commutes.
  • Your most recent whitepaper was a case study about a popular brand that your audience frequently mentions in their social posts.
  • Since you know your audience uses their smartphones and tablets to browse Twitter while watching TV after work, you run a weekly campaign that leverages hashtags pertaining to their favorite TV shows.
  • You create a series of short how-to videos because you know your audience engages with multimedia more than text-based content.

Your content is designed to be consumed by your target audience. By researching and analyzing their social behavior, you can develop a content strategy that produces relevant, share-worthy content that will delight and inspire your audience – and encourage them to engage with your brand across social media and beyond.