You’ve decided to launch a blog. That’s terrific, congratulations. With roughly 200 million blogs out there, it is hard to ignore the power of blogging’s potential and power. In what remains one of my favorite social media videos, Erik Qualman’s Social Revolution 2, tells us that 35% of bloggers post “opinions” about products and brands. There are certainly huge benefits to using the power of a blog to create community with your clients and future buyers. If they are posting their opinions for others to read, don’t you want them talking favorably about you? That one’s easy…of course you do.
Right now, I’m making the assumption that you’ve…
- Determined your purpose? Check.
- Have your plan defined? You bet.
- Metrics for success established? Absolutely.
- Technology chosen? Yup, have that conquered.
So far, so good. You are moving in the right direction. Right about now it is probably tempting to assume that the tough work is behind you, right? Not so fast. What about that content?
Becoming an inbound marketer is critical to your social sales success these days say the folks over at Hubspot. They’re right by the way! Your job is to provide really great content that compels people to come back to your site again and again while encouraging them to bring their networks along with them. But as you may have considered – or maybe you haven’t but you need too – it’s not so easy deciding what to communicate moment to moment, day in and day out, much less putting it into execution, is it? Recognizing how important it is to create engaging, valuable content that people will benefit from that is consistently fresh, relevant and interesting is a tall order. So, your first order of business is to establish your Social Media Posting Schedule.
What’s a social media posting schedule?
Think of it as a tactical plan that keeps you focused on what you want to communicate (post/blog about) to each of the social channels that you engage in. Think blogs, social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook pages and more. You want to think about your messaging themes, topics, who will contribute the content, what date you’ll post your message, etc. Since we’re talking about blogs today, what you need to remember is that once you know WHEN you need to post information and WHAT you’ll be communicating, it makes the process of creating your blog posts less daunting. But to make the schedule work of course, you need gather content.
Since you might be asking…what do I say on my blog each day anyway? To help get you jumpstarted…here are 13 (my lucky number!) ideas for gathering great content:
1. Carry a notebook for blog post ideas…and for those moments of brilliance that pop up at inopportune times. You might have an experience at the local market that leads you to think…hum, that’s something I should talk about. I’m suggesting that you keep a separate notebook for your blog post ideas. That way they are all in one place. When you sit down to consider what you want to write, you want all your ideas front and center in one place.
2. Follow top bloggers in your field. Find the real influencers not just the people with a lot of follower numbers. Regularly contribute to their community by commenting. For your own blog, build on the theme of their posts and the comments in the community. Quote these blogging influencers and link back to their blogs. And, and don’t forget to pay attention to who they talk about or recommend. More potential content for your posts.
3. Repurpose content. What have you previously written about that could be updated for current relevance? Not everything must be created from scratch, but the key is to be relevant. Don’t just “reprint” any outdated piece of work. Add a new spin based on learning’s since you first wrote the piece. I recently posted a post entitled Social Sales One Year Later. I started with a quote from what I had written one year earlier and then talked about what had happened since I first penned the words.
4. Record your brilliance. Most phones (unless your phone is from the dark ages) have software that lets your record your conversations. When that inspiration hits, record immediately. Trying to recall it later will be fruitless. Plus, if you are driving in your car, I don’t recommend digging for the notebook just then. Not in Atlanta anyway.
5. Ask questions, record the responses. Surveys, polls, starting group discussion…by virtue of the answers you receive, great blog posts can come. For example, you might ask your network what they think the traits of a superstar sales person are. Those responses are valuable far beyond having content for your blog posts. Its valuable research information that just may lead to the creation of a new product or maybe it will validate something that you already knew. Either way, it’s all good.
6. Use video. Have you read a book published in your field that inspired you? Create a 2-minute video book review. That becomes your blog post for the day. Or, search out topical videos on YouTube that you can share via blog posts. You simply add a few of your comments of your own to kick off the post, embed the video and let the video do the talking.
7. Webinars. Make it a point to sit in on a few webinars a month specific to your field. You may want to simply report on the webinar in a blog post. Tell people what you learned and why you thought the time you spent was valuable. Include a link back to the archived webinar if available. Or, you may take an idea or two from the session and expand upon it in a slightly different way. If your company hosted the webinar or you were speakers then similar to video, add a few comments about the webinar and include the link to let people listen from there. A word of caution…if the webinar is simply a “sales pitch” versus something topical and informational then ignore what I just said about promoting it. That will look self-serving.
8. Interview people. Thinking back to your social media posting schedule, let’s say that your theme for the week is social media ROI. You can develop a short list of people you’d like to interview. Once you’ve conducted the interview, you have material for your post and that of your guest. You can conduct your interview using the phone or posing your questions over email, but be sure to ask if the person you plan to interview has a preference. The interview gives you both great marketing content and should include links back to each other’s website.
9. Podcasts. Pretty much like the webinars. Listen, learn and leverage. Oh, and the great thing about podcasts is that you can take them on the go. Go to the park, listen to a podcast and either create your blog post on the spot or get the draft of it written by hand. The point is to be strategic; leverage your down time throughout the day.
10. Social media status updates. Scan what others are posting across the web. Is there anything interesting there that you can use for your blog post? Before you start complaining about the time this will take, I want you to sit yourself down – right now – and sign up for Netvibes. Netvibes lets you establish “dashboards” on topics, people, companies and more. Once you create the “search string” if you will, all you need to do is check your dashboards. Everything from Twittertweets to video posts to content all over the web, Netvibes grabs the content across the web and brings it to you. All you need to do is choose what to write about or respond to.
11. Invite guest bloggers. There are plenty of people out there looking for the opportunity to contribute content to the blogs of others. Who do you know in your industry? What about current colleagues? How about customers? You want to make sure that the message of your guests is in alignment with what you want to accomplish with your blog, but I think you get the idea. Don’t think you have to do the work all by yourself. Mix it up now and then. Makes it easier on you and readers like it.
12. Subscribe to news publications (online and print) that apply to your industry. Make a commitment to scan them immediately to look for writing ideas based on the current theme of the month. As an example, the November/December edition of Selling Power Magazine has provided me with content ideas for a number of blog posts for the next few weeks. Don’t forget that you might read about an individual or company that you would like to interview.
13. Join research communities that support your industry. The investment will pay off in the long run. As a premier member of Marketing Profs, I have access to current information, training, webinars, podcasts and a vast array of information to real time content that benefits me as a business owner. One client paid for my membership, so I consider the investment MORE than worth it. BTW, I’m not a partner nor do I receive any compensation from Marketing Profs. I thinkAnn Handley is great, and I highly recommend that you follow her on Twitter. I love the company’s work!
Delivering on the promise of a great blog is hard work, but the rewards are infinitely worth it. Aside from the 13 suggestions I’ve offered for gathering information, I hope you’ll embrace blogging as an opportunity to engage people like never before. Not to mention that you are creating great content for your next Amazonbest seller.