It’s usually fairly easy to convince a company that it needs a blog. As my business partner, Meg O’Leary, evangelizes: having a social media presence without a blog is akin to a direct email campaign without a Web site. While not every social media activity will lead back to your blog, you do need a landing page for social. This is particularly important for companies who want to use their blogs for thought leadership campaigns. We consider the blog to be the hub for thought leadership.
Setting up a blog is easy. The issue that keeps companies from doing it is the nagging question: “What will we blog about?” Companies can always come up with three or four starter posts, which are typically strong articulations of their perspectives on major issues affecting their industries. These are great, but what next?
Following are some blog post idea starters that have worked for us and some of our clients. Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments.
Lists. Lists. Lists.
Read any consumer magazine and you will notice that lists dominate their covers. The current top story on the home page for Cosmopolitan right now is, “20 Spring Dresses You Will Love.” A quick perusal of some of the main pieces in Business Insider’s The War Room section shows that the most read articles include, “The 20 Most Hilarious, Well-Executed Office Pranks” and “10 iPhone Apps That Will Make You Incredibly Productive.” This tactic works for startups too. Daniel Chalef (@danielchalef), the CEO of KnowledgeTree (an InkHouse client) wrote a post on the “10 Cloud-Based Apps That Give Mid-Sized Companies a Competitive Edge,” which led to record traffic on his blog.
Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about the lists that you could create:
- Lists of leading companies in your space (those that are complementary to your business model). Chances are that they will appreciate being included and might help spread your post through their own social channels.
- Lists of the top business tools relevant to companies in your market.
- Lists of your favourite Twitterers in your market.
- List of major mistakes you see potential customers making (be sure that this list is helpful though, and not offensive!). The most read post of all time for the InkHouse blog was “Nine Ways to Sabotage a Good Press Announcement.”
Tips and Tricks.
You undoubtedly have learned a few things along the way – lessons important for peers and lessons important to your client/customer base. These could be the foundation for a long series of posts, no doubt. Think about the knowledge you have that others could benefit from. Neverfail (an InkHouse client) regularly posts tips that are highly relevant for its customers who are looking to maintain uptime during disasters. One recent example was its post, “DR Tip: Think Small,” which identified the most common “disasters” as those that you can see coming, and plan for.
You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. Yesterday, I was in Chicago meeting with a client who realised that she has a great infographic in a presentation she delivered the other day that could serve as the foundation for a post. Another client, AdMeld, created a post using interviews they conducted at the Admeld Partner Forum. Look internally to your own content and think about the following:
- Have you done a white paper that could be whittled down to a blog post?
- Do you have videos of your executives presenting at conferences?
- Do you have PowerPoint graphics (or even raw data) that could be turned into infographics?
- Do you have position pieces you could repurpose as posts?
- Can you repurpose webinar content for a post, video, graphic, or all three?
Identify the thought leaders in your space and watch what they are writing and Tweeting about. An easy way to do this is to set up a list in Twitter that you can monitor once a day. Look for key issues you are passionate about and find opportunities to provide another perspective, or to respectfully disagree. This kind of post can frequently serve as a fire-starter for some great social interactions that help increase your influence scores and engagement with your company.
Read the news.
Similar to influencers, the news will provide another starting point for blog posts. Did something important happen in your industry today about which you have a point of view? Do you see an important trend affecting your market? These are great ways to start blog posts. They also provide you with tools to interact with the reporters who authored the stories by sending them your post.
Lastly, before you put pen to paper, proceed cautiously if anger has motivated you to write. Constructive criticism and differing points of view are important parts of social interactions and blogging. However, if the point of your blog is simply to complain or disparage someone or some entity, think of a new topic.