Think of your business as a Starbucks. Ok, besides the fact that you get free coffee. Help me out here a little bit ok?
Think of the free wifi as your blog content. You will have a few folks freeload and hide in the corner without buying any venti-soy-etc. But your free wifi (blog content) makes you useful and more people stick around your store longer. The longer they stick around, the more likely they will need and buy more of your coffee (products).
Content creation and keeping your fans interested until they buy is a core strategy of social media. It creates a bind between customers and the brand. It creates a feeling of reciprocity. These are powerful marketing techniques.
The catch, of course, is that content is hard to create.
Most brands create blogs, but then are unable to maintain them. Or if they do, they are not really maintaining them well enough to keep fans interested enough to create any real business results.
If you are blogging on behalf of your business and trying to create a connection to your brand, here are a few templates to help you create blog posts that will provide value for your readers and keep your fans close.
1. The New Opinion
Blogging for your business will ALWAYS outperform Facebook and Twitter.
That is an opinion. My opinion. Some might disagree, but i can back up why I feel this way.
Saying something unique and having an opinion about something that matters to your readers is one of the most powerful ways to hook an audience.You don’t manufacture an opinion or and an argument you don’t believe in. But it does benefit you to amplify your opinion, even at the risk of alienating a portion of your audience and potential customers.
Amplify your opinion by doing two things: Strip the idea you have down to it’s core hypothesis and benefit and then lose all the caveats, maybes, I think, it might, etc. I could have added to the end of my statement above “when done right” and more people might agree and understand I meant that most blogging is not done well enough to get results. But removing my caveats and maybes gets my opinion heard by more people.
Declaring your opinion and stating something unique does a few things that are beneficial for your business.
1. Confidence – In order to blog about your opinion you have to be confident. Confidence in your industry inspires people to do business with you.
2. Thought Leadership – Saying something new sets you up as a thought leader.
3. Make Them Think – Taking a stand on a topic drives discussion, thought, and learning. People remember when you make them think.
4. Finding Your Fans – Yes, if people disagree with you, you might lose them as a reader and future customer. But those that agree with you will be much more likely to stick around and one day do business with you. Half of your readers loving what you’re saying is better than all of your readers forgetting what you said.
Separate yourself from the crowd. Be remembered.
- Include a short anecdote
- Introduce a problem
- Begin your reasoning, introduce your perspective
- Tease the solution Step 1, Step 2. Etc.
- Recap the solution
2. How To Do Something Awesome
Instructional articles are gold for building authority. When you teach someone something new, especially on a regular basis, they begin to look to you for insight and advice. They begin to look to you as a trusted authority. And people spend money on trusted authorities. With me so far?
Teaching is, however, more difficult than talking about news or giving simple opinion. Teaching is sometimes harder than actually doing what you are teaching.
People expect more out of education than they do news. Just consider how much you can spend on college verses the daily newspaper. Getting “education” produces an expectation of learning something new that you can then implement for the betterment of your life or a cause or a business.
A few tips for how to posts:
1. Teach something to your customers – Make sure the people who consume beginner instructional content about your topic would also be your potential customers.
2. Teach something simple to a niche – You can write instructional content for beginners on a topic. The main negative there is you are likely not the first to produce such content. That being said, there still is opportunity for beginner instructional content. Especially in a niche community or industry. Not many dentists are blogging for instance, someone needs to teach them all.
3. Teach something in a new way – Be creative if it has been written about before. Instead of writing about how to bake an apple pie. Write about how to use solar energy to make a gluten-free apple pie that fits in your pocket. Ok, maybe that one goes a little too far, but you get my point.
4. Teach something difficult – This is the one of the best ways to write a how to post. And of course the hardest to pull off. But if you can take something very difficult and teach it in one single blog post. Your fans will love you for it. This is big value.
Teach, educate, become a thought leader. Get links for how to material.
- Include a short anecdote
- Introduce a problem
- Begin your reasoning, introduce your perspective/expertise
- Explain the solution in steps or examples: Step 1. Step 2, Etc.
- Recap the solution
3. The Killer List Resource
If I had to teach someone to blog and only had one lesson to pass along, I would tell them to write lists.
Should a blog depend only on articles that are lists? No. But honestly, if you did, I imagine you would find plenty of success. Take a look at the cover of the latest Cosmo or Mens Health and you will find plenty of top 7 this or 3 ways to do that. Even the incomparable David Letterman (see that opinion again?) included his “Top 10 List” in his contract for a reason. People get lists.
Lists work for a few reasons. They are easy to write, easy to consume, they set a number and therefore a value for a post. Instead of expecting to learn one thing from an article, if there are 10 bullet points, a reader feels safe that there will be something they can learn or take away out of the 10. Lists also create a, sometimes false but consistent, sense of authority.Whether you label a list as a “top 10” or not, people will assign value to any list.
If it is 3 steps to waking up refreshed, it is quick, easy to consume and creates urgency. If it is 300 ways to waking up refreshed, it is a massive, unbelievable number that people just have to see, and creates urgency.
This is not to be abused mind you. A good list post takes work, and that work gives a list its long-term value. But you should be cognizant of the potential of lists.
A lot of the potential of a list post is the fact that lists are link machines. If you have any SEO goals for your blog (the answer is yes, yes you do have SEO goals, trust me), list articles should be a piece of your strategy.
List articles are viewed as resources quickly and much more likely to be bookmarked or linked to. If I am writing an article on how to make a healthy salad and I remember another blog wrote about “5 simple healthy salad dressing solutions” I will likely link there when I talk about dressings in my article. Make your list a crucial resource like this list of 35 Facebook Fan Page Photo Strips. You know, as an example.
What makes a good list post?
- Answer a difficult question
- Offer multiple quality solutions to a difficult pain point
- Give many examples for a creative task
- Images make a list more resourceful, more visually appealing, and breaks up long lists to keep them interesting. A list of images is very consumable.
- The more items on the list, the stronger the resource (and the more time-consuming and difficult to create). The more likely it will be bookmarked and linked to as well. It is hard to sum up a list post that has 30 examples, so people just link to it instead.
- Fewer list items are fine as long as they are difficult to come up with. Tell me 3 types of green vegetables and I am moving on. But tell me 3 cheap salad ingredients that reduce stress and I am listening.
- Go niche. A list of your favorite chefs is nice, but probably something not amazingly useful for most people. A list of the best vegan, Asian cuisine specialists however, will give a unique resource for readers and SEO.
- Niche according to geography. Same as above “Top Philly vegetarian chefs”
- Link generously. Providing a link for each bullet is fine and encouraged. Just as an image draws people in, links keep them coming back. They know that your post is a resource for finding XYZ later on. Also, a lot of links create back links (if you link to other blog posts) and pings these sites, creating more attention and SEO potential for your post.
Create resources that are bookmarked, saved, referenced and linked to. Become a destination for useful resources.
- Personal anecdote
- State the problem
- Provide the list of solutions
It All Comes Back To Value
Now the actual templates I include in this article are not going to get these articles written without you putting in the work. Good writing is still required. Or at least a good idea and moderate writing (that is my MO).
The point is to get the reader interested and then give them value. That is always the point. These three examples should help you start thinking about how you can come up with your unique value. Once you do that, you have the biggest obstacle to a successful blog checked off your list.