At the SES conference this week I gave several presentations on Content Marketing: “Content Marketing Optimization” and “The Convergence of Search, Social & Content Marketing”. In the CMO session, I provided SEO tips for each spoke in a hub and spoke model. The hub in this situation was a blog and one of the most common issues with business blog success is fresh content. In fact, one of the most common reasons companies don’t start a blog is over their concerns with creating useful content.
I can empathize with that concern and have addressed it with many companies over the past 7+ years that I’ve been blogging here on TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog. To help anyone interested in ideas for creating business blog content, check out the following 8 tips. They’ve worked for us and for many of our clients and may very well work for you too.
Oreo Cookie News Posts - Set up Google Alerts for keywords you’re tracking and when an article or blog post surfaces that meets your editorial criteria, excerpt in a blog post using your own intro and conclusion. That’s the “oreo cookie”, sandwiching a portion of the Google Alert with your own copy setting up why it’s important and your own conclusion or opinion. Always cite the source of course.
Short Lists – (Like this one) Create short lists of tips according to keyword themes, especially information that is in high demand but short supply. You can also focus on the kind of information that could help customers during various stages of the buying cycle: 5 Tips on How to Buy a New Widget, 5 Tips on Getting the Most Out of Your New Widget, 5 Things You Can Do With Old Widgets, 5 Common Problems with Widgets and How to Solve Them, etc.
Large Collections – Compile large collections of resources according to a search keyword or social topic theme. If you can find disparate resources that don’t normally get included together, it can really resonate as a unique and useful content object that will get bookmarked and shared. Long form and media rich content will often get bookmarked more because readers aren’t likely to consume it in one sitting.
Really relevant, unique and useful collections of resources can be hard to compile in one sitting, so set a task to collect such resources a few at a time, over time. A few minutes a day over 3 weeks is barely noticed compared to 2 uninterrupted hours in one day.
Interview Industry Influentials - First you need to define what influential really means to your particular industry. Those with the most subscribers, friends and fans (in social media terms) may not be the people who can be the most cooperative and giving. When approaching really well known industry people, it’s often easier to ask 10 people 1 question and compile the answers. That makes it easy for them to participate and when they see who else is involved, it can motivate them to participate. That means starting off with a few “internet famous” people that you know will participate, and reference them in requests to others you don’t know as well.
When interviewing subject matter expert “unsung heros”, use more questions and think about using keywords in the questions themselves, structuring the questions so that they might result in keyword rich answers. Of 10 questions asked of 10 people, make sure 2 or 3 questions are very tactical. Aggregate those tactical responses from the 10 interviewees later in a new post. There’s so much more you can do with repurposing content in original ways, but you get the idea. The key is to plan ahead.
Curate Comments - Aggregate the best comments from your blog or even other blogs according to a particular topic. Identify important blogs in your industry, especially those with active commenters. When you cite another blog, the content doesn’t need to be limited to the blog post. It can also include the comments from other blogs. You can chose to organize those comments according to keyword topics (citing the source blog of course) or a particular position that you’re taking.
You can also compile some of the best comments from your own blog as a way to recognize community participation.
Crowdsource Content - Think about doing surveys, polls & contests that result in content. Give readers an incentive to participate in a promotion where entry into the contest is based on some kind of content: short articles, images or video. Enable your blog readers to rate entries and promote the winner. Don’t just do this once, because if it works well at all, you can build momentum by running the promotion annually or quarterly depending on the volume of interest and participation. I recently posted about crowdsourcing content on ClickZ.
Answer with Subject Matter Expertise – Many subject matter experts and business executives are too busy to write blog posts. But if you ask them a question, they’ll talk your ear off. Use that behavior to your advantage and get business blogging staff to ask subject matter experts in the organization questions verbally – in person or on the phone – and use the answers in corporate blog posts.
Frontline Answers – Another goldmine of content for blogs is from frontline employees that interact with prospects and customers. Customer support staff and sales people answer questions all day long. Find a way to harvest that knowledge into edited FAQ’s for your blog. Always make sure you give feedback to whoever helps provide content to your business blog. That will contribute to their feeling of contribution and can help motivate future participation.
These ideas are just an excerpt from one slide of my solo presentation on Content Marketing Optimization. There are many other things you can do to create interesting content for your business blog, especially if you’ve done homework with customer profiles, search keywords and social topics. We’ve created processes around content calendars for blogs and other content marketing efforts that makes this a very straightforward process. Lists like the one above can certainly fuel an initial content calendar to either start a business blog or introduce new content to an existing blog.
Are you facing challenges with your business blog? What’s stopping you from launching a new blog or with content creation? What creative content ideas have you seen on other blogs that you’d like to share?