Is Your Blog Serving Broccoli or Brownies?
Imagine you're a guest at a fancy dinner party and the host presents you with two platters - one full of nutritious steamed broccoli, the other towering with rich, fudgy brownies. The catch? You can only eat from one plate. Unless you've got some finely-tuned discipline or a case of vegetable gluttony (congratulations and we're jealous!), you go for the brownies. It can be the same with blog content- posts with sensational, timely, controversial, "sexy," or emotional themes tend to generate the most views and shares. What if you're a B2B or highly specialized business in an industry with a reputation for being as boring as broccoli? Blogging is a vital part of inbound marketing, so you'll need to spice up your content to make it palatable and remarkable. Here are a few ideas:
- Use your best writers - People want to be engaged, informed and challenged when reading a post, so every other tip offered here means nothing if you don't have strong writers creating the content. Seek out your company's best writers, hire them, become one yourself, or consider hiring a business blog content writing service.
- Use multiple authors - If you're lucky enough to have a deep bench of writers, use them all. Top small business blogs tend to treat themselves as publications and have many contributors.
- Survey your audience - When you know what blog topics your readers are craving, it's much easier to create widely-read content. Use a tool like Survey Monkey to create a simple survey and then ask your existing readers, social media contacts and email contacts for their input.
- Don't forget the aesthetics - Make sure your website and blog design is beautiful, modern and easy to navigate. Use only high quality images and relevant graphics. Readers love infographics! Find infographics on almost any topic imaginable by searching Google and Google blog search, searching Twitter with the hashtag #infographic, or sites that collect them: Infographic Journal, Small Business Infographics Gallery, Daily Infographic, Cool Infographics, Visual.ly, Pinterest, or Infographics at Alltop. Always make sure to give credit and link to the creator.
- The old standbys - When generating blog content, you can always return to some tried and true brainstorming standbys- search Google with several keyword combinations and turn the top 10 suggestions into posts, or search Quora for common questions about your industry.
- Always be on alert - Listen to, read and search the archives of popular news outlets for stories you can incorporate into your blog. You might find some common ground in human interest, technology update, world politics or investigative pieces on NPR, TED Talks, This American Life, The New York Times or your favorite newspaper, Google Insights, Buzzfeed, Hacker News, Reddit, Marketwatch, or Science Friday. Magazines and trade publications are a great resource for blog topics too.
- Kill a bunch of birds with one stone - Once you've found a hot topic, leverage it into several posts: a beginner's guide, a post addressing misconceptions, a case study showcasing a success in the industry, and an instructional guide or video. Always remember to view a topic from all your buyer personas and create a post tailored to each.
- Reader Q&A - Ask your most engaged fans to send in questions and start a Q&A series of posts.
- Blast from the past - Research industry quotes and projections from 5, 10, or 15 years ago and poke fun at how little the experts knew, or marvel at their omniscience.
- Integrate social sharing - Make sharing easy for your readers by including social sharing buttons from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ on the bottom of every blog post.
- Follow growth hacking's lead - Two of the growth hacking tools mentioned here can benefit your blog. Outbrain lets you add a link to any article or blog post and it will publish that link in "From Around the Web" sections in articles on CNN, Fast Company, Slate, Time and millions of other websites. With Colibri you enter 5 phrases describing what your product or service does and the tool goes to work to find relevant discussions you can participate in or get ideas from.
Don't despair if you're on the "broccoli" end of the blog spectrum! Broccoli's healthy, full of essential nutrients, and all it takes is a little salt and pepper or melted cheese to make it delicious. Chances are your customers and leads will crave your content after a little tweaking. For even more inspiration, take a look at Hubspot's article, "10 Phenomenal Blogs in Totally Boring Industries."
Contact us for more inbound marketing strategies and positioning your company as an industry leader.