When chatting to clients about their online presence, it is often evident that the idea of writing regular, fresh blog copy is rather disconcerting. Aside from the time allocation that might be needed, the main worry usually relates to content – what will we say?! – despite this being something that can be managed reasonably easily with a bit of advance planning. As with any type of communication, content is only good when it’s of interest to the people you want to engage with, so the key is to make sure you know your audiences and speak to them in an appropriate way. For example, is your blog for customers, staff or industry peers? Each of these groups requires different messaging and maybe even a different tone of voice – and you also need to consider how you are asking your readers to respond. Is there a comment function or would you like people to email directly with feedback? Have a good think about this - social media is not about pushing out corporate messaging in a one-sided fashion so be prepared to deal with people directly one way or another and on top of that to act on the information you get.
In terms of what makes an interesting blog, there are a number of places to start. In the book ‘Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More),’ Ann Handley and CC Chapman set out 25 approaches to developing relevant content, all well worth reading. Here are some of their ideas to get you started, alongside some of my own:
- Work out what makes you different. What is it about your product or service that appeals to your audience and how can you use those particular elements to get people to sign up to your blog in the first instance?
- What have you seen lately? Are there relevant newspaper articles you’ve read or events you’ve attended recently that you could comment on that others might want to know about / have an opinion on too?
- Could your workforce contribute? Would this keep the content fresh and indeed help people better understand your operations so they appreciate the service more? For example, would it be useful for your customers to know who your buyer is and what the job entails? Could a member of the team explain why there is a two week wait from order to delivery, bringing the journey to life? This could open out into a great question and answer session if handled right.
- What do your customers think and say? Have you ever asked them what they’d like to know or read about? Could they contribute themselves if they’ve had a positive experience or if you’ve implemented changes on the back of a suggestion they have made?
- Are there key influencers and thought leaders who could guest blog for you? Often an external perspective can be an illuminating one, particularly from people who can comment on the bigger picture and look at business issues in a different context.
- What about industry trends? Are there things you can tell your customers to help them stay ahead of the crowd? Tips offer great blog topics too – what could your audiences benefit from knowing and could your readers not share their suggestions too?
These are just a few possibilities to explore in the quest to create compelling blog content. Inspiration is everywhere if you look around – think about the questions you are always asked when people find out what you do as that’s what people want to know! Also make sure you take a look at other blogs because you can learn a lot from checking out the good and the bad.
Blogs should be conversational so the key is to relax and approach the copy almost as if you are talking to your readers. Believe it or not, this type of writing soon becomes second nature and enjoyable too.