Business blogging and social media publishing can be a great way to engage your readers and share insight into both your personality and business. However, they are – by no means – straightforward processes.
Chances are if you’ve been online for any amount of time, you’ve read both good web content and bad content. Good content can be extremely useful in generating customer leads and forming positive brand associations amongst future prospects. Bad content, on the other hand, can be very, very bad!
So what makes bad web content, bad? In fact, there are a number of cardinal sins that can sink a well-intentioned business blog or social networking profile. Posting too much promotional content is one, as nobody wants to read sales message after sales message! At the same time, posting too much dry, technical content will turn off readers who come to this interactive space looking to get a feel for you and your brand.
To prevent these unintentional missteps from occurring, I’ve developed the “5:3:2 Rule,” which I’ve found to represent an optimal balance of different content types on any web property. Here’s how to use this strategy to increase responsiveness to your digital content:
Element #1 – 5 posts on your space, industry and peers
In general, the bulk of your web content posts should provide insight into industry issues. This serves two purposes – both increasing your perceived authority within your niche and opening your website and social profiles up to additional SEO exposure for industry keywords.
Writing this type of content should be fairly straightforward, although there are a number of different strategies you can use to brainstorm article topics to suit this category. For example, you can:
- Provide commentary on breaking news or announcements within your industry,
- Share “how to” advice that teaches your readers how to perform essential tasks that relate to your business, or
- Generate “evergreen content” posts that provide basic information that will always be beneficial to people starting out in your industry.
If you still aren’t sure what to write about, simply search Google for keywords related to your business or use Gist as I do (stay tuned for my secret tip at the end of this article!) to find potential web content topics. Chances are something that appears in the natural search results – whether it’s a news item you’d like to break down for your readers or a tutorial on a subject you feel you could explain better – will spark an idea in your mind for a good industry-related blog post.
Element #2 – 3 posts about your product and success
The next category of posts and social networking updates you’ll want to consider relates to your product offerings and successes within your industry. Now, keep in mind that these posts don’t need to be “hard sells,” in which you attempt to persuade your readers to buy right away.
Instead, draft posts that focus more on uncovering your product’s unique features, as well as how these features have led to success for your company.
As an example, take a look at an older post on the Gist blog titled, “Gist adds Learn that Name to iPhone app to help you remember your contacts.” Nowhere in the post does author Greg Meyer say, “You need to go download the Gist app right now!” Instead, he focuses on features that the Gist app has added, as well as how our users will benefit from these features.
Similar style posts will almost certainly help your readers to connect to your products and services in the non-threatening environment of your business blog and social media profiles. However, if you feel uncomfortable discussing your product’s features and benefits in such an outright style, consider posting case studies or examples of how people have used your product or service successfully. Featuring customers and expanding on what they do, what other tools they use and how they use your product are also good ways to showcase your product’s features without having to “sell”.
Also in this area can be topics on “how” you do what you do. As an example, here’s a post detailing the Agile development process Gist used to move us towards our most recent release – http://blog.gist.com/2011/01/06/scrum-much-agile-development-by-the-numbers/. Sharing this type of post still provides value to your readers without putting you in the sometimes uncomfortable position of trying to decide how much selling is “too much” selling.
Element #3 – 2 posts about your personal side
The last elements found in successful web content pieces are posts that reveal your personal side. One of the biggest advantages of maintaining a digital presence is that it allows you to put a face and personality to your online brand. People like to know the people they do business with, which is why incorporating elements of your personal narrative into your website in this way makes good business sense.
Now, this isn’t a license to start posting about the bagel you had for breakfast or how you spent Friday night watching re-runs of “How I Met Your Mother.” Instead, the most successful personal posts are those that tie elements of your personal life back to your business. For example, consider the following ideas:
- Sharing a post on how your growing family influenced you to become an entrepreneur in order to give your children a better future (complete with the requisite “cute kid” pictures, of course!).
- Telling the story of how your immigrant parents shaped your work ethic, resulting in the latest release of your product or service.
- Posting an article on how your love of endurance sports prompted you to offer products and/or services for other athletes involved in these activities.
- Articulate why you started why you started your business, as in this post from Noah Kagan of AppSumo.
- Talk about a specific volunteer/community passion you have – like working with other startups
Obviously, these specific topics may not apply to you, but they should give you an idea of how your unique personal experiences can be tied back to your business blog and social posts. Ideally, integrating these personal stories alongside industry news and posts about your products and services should help you to create a dynamic, engaging brand online that will result in more exposure (and – consequently – more sales!) for your business.
Secret Tip – Setting up Gist to fill your topic funnel
Want to know how we keep our digital content funnel full of topic ideas? First, find and focus on key influencers within your industry and add them to your Gist profile. You don’t need to know these people, but once you’ve added them to your account, Gist will help you discover their blogs, new articles mentioning them and their Twitter streams.
Now, when you start your day, you’ll be able to retweet their content and capture different post ideas their content sparks for your own web content needs (our team uses Trello to create a list of future content options). For even more power, use the Chrome add-in, “press-this,” which will clip any web article and create a draft post in WordPress for later editing.
Using the combination of Gist, press this and Trello, we’ve got a long list of things to write about!
Image: retro traveler