This is the second part in a three-part series on how to build your online presence for truly social selling, inspired by research from Jon Ferrara, founder and CEO of social CRM developer Nimble.
In my last article, we discussed how you lay the groundwork for a truly socialized-selling strategy by researching and creating a buyer persona.
These ideal customer profiles are crucial for identifying your audience for the next part of this strategy: writing killer content.
Great content is all about being relevant and unique.
This is one of the best ways to guarantee content you spent so much time creating will have a chance at cutting through the clutter. No one is going to click on your headline if they’ve read the same idea a hundred times. And it won’t matter if someone does, if they aren’t the kind of person that would buy from you in the first place.
In this article, I’ll provide four quick tips for researching and executing unique content topics.
1. Use ASOs to Mine for Trending Topics
Let’s say through your research process you’ve identified one buyer persona as being young working mothers. Their biggest life concern is balancing work and family time, so they are willing to spend money on products or services that help them do this better.
So generally, you want to create content that addresses these fears, and/or describes how you help them achieve these goals (without sounding too promotional).
To start your research, use the Advanced Search Operator (ASO) “inurl:blog” in combination with keywords that describe your buy persona. The more specific you are with your search, the more relevant articles you’ll find. So be sure to use combinations of buyer fears, with “how-to,” or “tips,” “advice,” and so on.
As you click through to blogs, bookmark or flag those with the most relevancy to your audience. You can also use Klout to find influencers by topic area. Take a look at their blog, as well as articles they are talking about and sharing.
Next, you’ll want to start recording reoccurring themes. Pay particular attention to those with the most social shares.
Topsy is a great tool for this if the blog doesn’t post this directly on their site or with a “most popular” tag. Simply plug the blog post’s URL into the Topsy search bar and it will show every time that article was shared. Be sure to compare a few posts from the same blog. More than 200 shares on Forbes, for example, is really low comparatively. But this might be a really high number for a smaller, niche blog that is much more relevant to your audience.
Some social CRM systems also allow you to instantly see the social influence of a particular person, if they are already in your contact management system.
2. Read Comments to Find Unique Angles
At the beginning of this article, I mentioned uniqueness as one of these most important factors in content success. Just because everyone is blogging about healthy snacks for kids, doesn’t mean you need to come out with another “5 Tips for Healthy Kid Snacks” to add to the hundreds.
Instead you need to find increasingly granular ways to tackle the same subject. One way to do this is by reading through the comments on popular posts, particularly those with questions.
“I read your blog, but I’m still having [this problem],” for example. This could create the basis for your entire article idea. In fact, you can even make the question your headline. It will entice the reader into wanting to know the answer.
3. Interview Experts, Find Case Studies
You want to make sure that you aren’t just regurgitating information that’s already been well covered. The best way to really flesh out a topic is talk to the experts.
Take a journalistic approach to content.
If you’ve raised a question, go back to those thought leaders you identified in Klout during your topic research process and get their input. Unique quotes in a story provide real value to your article because the reader can’t find those insights elsewhere.
Quoting experts also helps during the promotion step, which we describe in the next article of this series.
In addition to finding experts, you can also use case studies from real customers.
It’s always easier to understand a concept when you have a real-life example.
Also, the reader has something to identify with and say, “this person is just like me.”
4. Make it Pretty and Scannable
Finally, make your post easy on the eyes.
Break up the content with images, subheads and bullet lists.
Google+ Hangouts also make it easy to produce a quick video. If you scheduled an interview for the topic, host it in a Hangout and post that in the blog post. This also creates another piece of content that can be shared separately.
In our next post we describe how you effectively share this content to generate real customers – the last step in your socialized-selling strategy.