Blog content for the rest of us

No one will argue the need for organizations to publish meaningful content these days, one of the best ways to capture audience interest and increase organic search rankings. If you run Apple or Coca Cola, your sizeable in-house marketing department with their social media specialists are pumping out engaging content like clockwork and receiving the lion’s share of engagement and spiraling rankings. How do the “Rest of Us” hope to compete with far more limited resources?

Some of the Rest of Us put out occasional blogs, stuff them with desired keywords, and receive varying levels of audience engagement. Others, often non-profit and arts organizations, either rely on head office efforts or hope for the best with storefront or event engagement. The world of social media, with its relentless advances and audience trends, is a difficult one for the Rest of Us to ever feel fully on top of, and it can be easier to simply hope for the best. But does it have to be so daunting?

Information on the main blog types is easy to find and generally includes the how-to, list-based (think top ten), curated slide-show, and news story links. A few other interesting ideas include a quote and your interpretation of it, behind the scenes on a project of yours, an insiders look at your facility, a profile of an affiliated business, whose reposting can boomerang leads back to you. Others could be a Q & A, customer stories, (usually veiled testimonials) asking your audience an industry-related question, a review of your process, a personal story, or steps to take from start to finish. For maximum impact, your blog should be what is known as long-form, or at least 2,000 words.

Sound scary? Any of the above ideas could also be handily covered by what is undoubtedly the king of social media, video. A weekly video diary of a current project’s progress, a quick tour of your office or studio, or a behind-the-scenes moment, (of interest to your niche) can produce viral results. These days smartphones can provide an excellent quality video, so there is no need to hire this out.

Okay, so you have your idea, and you want to write it up. Editors know that any piece of writing needs to have an intention. So, if your company sells widgets, your intention should be more specific than to sell widgets. Your intention could be to inform your audience about the breakthroughs in titanium widgets, evidenced by how they are transforming Nasa’s Satellite Production System (news story). By the way, I have no idea if they use titanium in widgets or if Nasa even builds satellites, but you get the picture. Your intention here is to educate your audience about the value and effective industrial use of titanium widgets, which you just happen to manufacture.

Hand in hand with defining your intention is clearly defining your audience. In the widget scenario, the audience is likely corporate widget buyers or tool companies. They would most likely want to be in the know with such developments as industrial widget metal advancement. If your audience is dentists, they might be less impressed with industrial use and more impressed with dental or medical applications (dental x-ray widgets, tooth drill widgets) that could impact and improve patient health and comfort.

Once you define your intention and your audience, you can choose any blog style you like. For instance, the curated collection or slide show blog is popular with shoppers and recipe seekers, but other audiences can find the sometimes “salesy” tone off-putting. Current trends show that audiences are increasingly drawn less to sales pitches and more to meaningful and relatable content. FREE meaningful content that is. This content trend also means the Rest Of Us may have to do some research to ensure all facts are accurate and be sure to cite sources.

So you know your intention and your audience; be sure to gauge your content, tone and pace for maximum audience relatability. Are your itty-bitty titanium widgets used in hearing aids that can last longer with specific care? You might choose a “top ten tips” style blog, and ensure your tone is factual and clear, using a moderate pace. Are your titanium widgets used in skateboard wheels? An action-filled video would probably work best, but if you do write, your tone would be punchier, far less wordy and at a quicker pace.

So, writing. Remember high school essay writing? A basic blog writing can follow a similar structure without overdoing the thesis arguments. Grab your audience with a super exciting title and introduction, and then follow up with a few points that support it. In your conclusion, circle back to the exciting intro point. Don’t forget to include one or more eye-catching and relatable images. Luckily you will have something in your library, but if not, numerous royalty-free image sites abound, such as Unsplash, Pixabay or Pexels.

When it comes to keywords, gone are the days of the more, the merrier. This practice resulted in inauthentic sounding copy and google now punishes “keyword stuffing.” One of the core concepts behind current SEO (Search Engine Optimization) best practices is improving the user experience with relatable content. When it comes to optimizing, the user comes first. If there are marketing funds available, a good SEO resource is invaluable, since they can monitor and adjust much more quickly than The Rest Of Us. If not, there is much detailed information out there on this topic.

Finally, it would help if you pulled audiences to you with consistency. It can be helpful to create an editorial calendar of weekly or monthly topics, such as the ever-popular “Throwback Thursday.” Search leading sources in your industry for their editorial calendars and try following their topic timings to grab pre-existing and trending audience interest. Several content pre-scheduling sites are available to send out your content automatically once you produce it and schedule the timings. Hootsuite is a good one.

Over time, your audience will tell you what they like. You won’t know overnight, after two blogs and probably not after twenty, but if you start paying attention to your content and intention, the audiences of The BEST of Rest of Us will vote with their feet, I mean – fingers, or possibly thumbs.

Karen Stewart
www.kstewartcommunicatons.com
A DWG partner