Five ways to tease out valuable blogging content

It’s hard, isn’t it, to provide value and original content for your blog reader over a period of time? Yet, most of us have a huge reservoir of expertise that we need to tease out of the recesses of our minds.

Here are five ways of jogging your memory, stimulating your creative juices and providing a go-to stimulus when inspiration becomes tough.

1 Problem-solving

Show your readers how you solved a common problem in your area of expertise. Give them a template so that when a similar situation crops up, they have a guide to follow. Case studies are often cited as a way of doing this but move from the particular to the more general. The bonus is that this approach will be brim-full of your keywords.

2 Tell a story
SpeakeasyGroups

Speakeasy Groups is a trade mark of MojoYourBusiness

I am indebted to Andrew Thorp and Sarah Knowles of MojoYourBusiness for helping me with storytelling through their Speakeasy Groups™ events. According to Andrew and Sarah, there are only five common types of story. A more powerful way to communicate with our audience is to fit our post into one of these types of narrative framework:

2.1 The quest: people find it easier to get behind you if you’re clearly on a mission. They can admire your zeal and what you stand for rather than what you do. Simon Sinek presents a simple but powerful model for how leaders inspire action, starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?”

2.2 Stranger in a strange land: if you’re a small business, perhaps you moved from the corporate world and started working with SMEs, bringing better systems and professionalism to a new arena? It shows a certain humility that you didn’t know it all at first but you’ve gained from the experience and, over the years, you’ve adapted and grown.

2.3 Love story: one way of incorporating a love story into a blog post might be explaining how two matches came together – customer and product – perhaps through unlikely circumstances, or not in the way you anticipated, and it’s turned into something deeper and longer-lasting than a business transaction.

Gladiator

The movie, Gladiator, is a good example of the revenge story theme.

2.4 Rags-to-riches: In business, this translates to great case studies. Michael Margolis (Your Story is Your Brand) prefers the description ‘before-and-after stories’. If you can show how you’ve moved a client from a poor situation to somewhere significantly better, it’s a great way to demonstrate the value you bring to people.

2.5 Revenge: every post is enriched by a fight between good and evil, even if it’s a metaphor. Channel your energies against the “system” rather than your competitors and fight the cause for your customer.

3 Provide useful resources

Create a list on List.ly of some invaluable free apps in a specific area. I am getting used to storing my lists on List.ly so that they can benefit my prospects and customers as well as act as a personal reminder. There is even a List.ly WordPress Publisher Key and embedding List.ly lists with the Key and WordPress plugin gives you SEO benefits over just using Javascript code.

4 Explode some common myths in your business area

Over the past few months, I have been explaining to businesses what Google+ is and what it can do for their inbound marketing. The myth is that it is just another social media platform and, of course, it is much more – and less—than that! Explode a common myth in your industry to show that you are original and worth-knowing.

5 Interpret data into usable action

Data pours out of nearly all business activity but few take the time to understand what it means. Even fewer translate that into actionable information for time-poor management. If a new survey comes out, interpret what it means in everyday terms for your audience.

Social media? You really need a reason to get stuck in?

Recently, I have been involved in a number of debates about the usefulness of social media in business. I was slightly taken aback that the business value of social media even needed debating. However, many people are simply immersed in their everyday business and personal challenges and have not had the time to consider or explore these issues.

This short article is to get you started in the ‘why’ social media is so important to future business success. I am not going to pound you with statistics: they now overwhelmingly point to majorities of people being online and involved in social media, even if we need to remember the digital disenfranchised and many businesses that operate perfectly well without any online presence.

Social tools, networks and media have enabled customers to do what they’ve always wanted to do — be heard and to have the power to turn their ideas into ways to make the products and services they love even better. These tools are also allowing them to reach more people like them, with common interests and information needs, creating powerful communities not possible only a few short years ago.

So, if you are in business, and can afford to ignore your customers, and potential customers, clustering online and willing to help you deliver them what they want, then you are missing a huge opportunity.

That’s why the best advice about social media, customer service, or anything other business initiative has always been to master the basics before proceeding to the more advanced topics.
Social media will still be here next year (and even the year after). Take the time to first address any serious issues or problems within your customer service organisation before pushing ahead into social media. And if you really can’t wait and feel compelled to jump right into social media while revamping your customer service organisation in parallel, at least start small and stay focused.
Choose a particular channel — whether it be Twitter, a discussion forum, or an online user group — and put enough resources and effort behind it to make it work. Put in the time. Engage with customers. Show people that you are serious and that you plan to stick around for the long term. If you respect your customers — and the community — they will likely both respect you back.
And that’s a pretty good start. If resources, in terms of people, are either scarce and you can’t find an in-house social media champion, think of hiring an agency. In a future post, I’ll give you some tips about choosing one. Or find a guru like me who has not only been immersed in this stuff for a while and already made all those classic mistakes and learned from them!

What a company develops from venturing into social media marketing is social capital. There are sound economic reasons for the importance of social capital. Oliver Williamson won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2009 for his work on transaction costs. One element of his research found that trust reduces transaction costs — in other words, if you’re doing business with someone you know, the cost of doing it decreases.

The Cluetrain Manifesto

The manifesto that started us thinking about being connected

Remember The Cluetrain Manifesto? It was a set of 95 theses organised and put forward as a manifesto, or call to action, for all businesses operating within what was suggested as a newly-connected marketplace, as far back as 1999. The ideas put forward within the Manifesto aimed to examine the impact of the Internet on both markets (consumers) and organisations.

In addition, as both consumers and organisations are able to utilise the Internet to establish a previously unavailable level of communication both within and between these two groups, the Manifesto suggested that the changes that will be required from organisations as they respond to the new marketplace environment.

Here is a summary, in their words: “These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can’t be faked.

“Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humourless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.

“But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about ‘listening to customers’. They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.”

So social media marketing barely needs an ROI, as the current demand is phrased. You just need to decide whether you want to be in business in five years or not. Ignore the sea slowly being sucked away from you and the social media tsunami will catch you unprepared.

Question on LinkedIn: how are you helping traditional clients embrace digital?

There are two strands to an organisation’s evolution into digital thinking.

The first is a communications challenge: this involves integrating website, email marketing, social media presence, SEO, blog…with the internal processes behind content production. Allied to this reorganisation is a change of attitude to one of listening to digital buzz, analysing and adapting to feedback from relevant communities.

The second challenge is realignment to new thinking: in the hearts and minds of senior management. They are already under pressure but time must be made for a workshop on how digital interaction needs a new management philosophy, one of openness, transparency and honesty.

Under traditional command and control hierarchies, this doesn’t come easily. Information used to be power. Now sharing information is power among the digital communities talking about your business every day.

Digital embraces recruitment, customer service, marketing, sales and manufacturing.

My help consists of a programme of workshops allied to some direct, hands-on help in getting marketing communications systems re-engineered. The returns can be phenomenal.