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Company blog – where to find ideas for posts?

18-11-2013, Category Maintenance

Start a company blog and write about what’s interesting for your clients. It’s easier said than done. What to blog about especially when your line of business is rather… boring?

You want to start using inbound marketing to attract traffic to your company website. You know that the center of such actions is valuable content. You start a company blog with a view to writing about the business you’re in. The first post is just great. The second is also fine. But you have to publish regularly, week after week. What’s more, it would be nice if your readers shared the posts. What you need is a blogging strategy.

thinking
Photo by: Jacob Bøtter

Company blog – is it really worth it?

If you still hesitate, let me give you some arguments for using the blog in marketing:

SEO

Google Search Quality Team is getting better at credibly assessing the quality of content on websites and ignoring all sorts of tricks by SEOs. That means that traditional SEO, which is based mainly on link building, brings increasingly poorer effects, while websites with valuable content appear higher and higher in search results.
The blog is the fundamental way to complement the main content of a company website (offers, a company prezentation etc.) with trade articles that are capable of attracting users from the target group.

Conversion

Interesting content not only attracts more users to your website but also:

  • increases the time they spend on websites (and the number of pages they visit),
  • makes users come back to the website more often,
  • positively influences the number of generated contacts.

Expert image

There is no better marketing message than an expert opinion on a business issue that is shared by users not connected with the company. An offer and recommendation in one.

The human face

The blog, just as social networking websites, brings company employees closer to users. Posts are written in a slightly less formal tone than dry and official content of company websites (though not as informal as for example Facebook entries) and are signed with a full name. They also often include the author’s picture.

Users’ engagement

Do you offer a newsletter on your company website? Is there anyone – except for journalists and your competitors – subscribing to receive it? I suspect not.
Interesting trade articles published on a company website make it sensible to order a newsletter. They also enable you to have any feedback in the form of comments under posts. Such discussions not only can provide you with interesting market information but also often make it easier to establish direct sales contacts.

Value of the content

Being persistent in blogging allows you to build a content base which makes your website highly valuable. With a valuable website it’s easier to encourage partners to cooperate (e.g. guest blogging) and the content you have collected can be used many times – to prepare slide show presentations, infographics or even e-books.

The most effective types of posts

There are several types of posts that – because of their structure and form – attract more readers and are more often shared in social media. Here they are:

Lists

“10 best…”, “20 proven ways to…”, “5 applications that…”. A good list is content in a nutshell where the author has already done some work for the reader, i.e. they found, selected and compared information.
Furthermore, a list often provokes discussions – about any element that is omitted or that shouldn’t be on the list.
An example from our blog: “12 tools of a modern marketer

Step by step

“How to” are short guides showing how to make something precisely, step by step. It’s best if each step is illustrated with a screenshot, image or a drawing.
Despite appearances, instructions on how to make something difficult do not enjoy great popularity at all. On the contrary, the majority of users look for guides about the easiest things that are simply outside their area of expertise.
An example from our blog: “A successful company page on Google+ in 7 steps

Cheat sheets

Another kind of post that can be called “useful”. A cheat sheet contains a compilation of basic knowledge on a narrow subject. It’s often in an easily printable form or in the form of infographics (see below).
An example from our blog: “Internet advert forms – types, formats and sizes of banners and not only

Infographics

Infographics are the queen of “link baiting”, i.e. obtaining links from external websites. This is such an attractive form of content that users are not only willing to share it but they also publish it on their websites/blogs – and of course give links to the source.
An example from our neighbor blog: “State of mobile 2013

Other popular types of posts

Below I list some other types of posts because their form itself may already be an inspiration for an idea for an interesting topic.

Guides for beginners

As opposed to full instructions – which are most often a subject for a book and not a post – an introduction for beginners is a very cursory description presenting the functions of a tool that helps users only to start using it.
Of course, if you see there’s a lot of interest in the subject you can write posts that are a continuation of such an introduction and guide users through subsequent stages of initiation.

Reviews and comparisons

New products and services – be it software, gadgets, cars or industrial equipment – every novelty on the market is interesting. Users don’t want to risk, they’d rather read opinions before they decide to buy. Additionally, comparisons (that may be subjective) help them make a choice or even justify to themselves the choice they have already made.

Interviews

The success of a post being an interview depends mainly on how popular the interviewee is. If you are able to persuade a well-known and highly regarded expert in the industry to give an interview, the content on your blog will gain in its expert significance.
I’m not saying that good questions don’t matter because they do matter. What depends on questions are answers and the more interesting they are the more willing are users to share such a post.

“What if” and experiments

I guess it’s the easiest to have a really unique text in this category. Absolutely theoretical speculations or just the opposite – a concrete experiment, which is based on a completely new idea. Other bloggers are often provoked to refer or reply to such content or to refute a thesis or develop a concept in connection with it. That adds value to the website in the form of links.

Competitions and freebies

It’s a bit far-fetched to say it’s blogging but, with relatively little effort, it lets you get new users and convert quite a number of them to subscribers (or fans).

Topics

There is no line of business which is impossible to blog about – for example because it’s boring. It’s just that you have to consider some industries more broadly and creatively.
An example: my brother-in-law works in a company producing sub-assemblies for underground train carriages. Yawn. But after all, apart from technology, they can blog about everything what’s connected with it, i.e. about the underground history, its influence on cities or even more broadly about railway and, again even more broadly, about Brazil (which is one of the places where the company products are shipped).
You also have to remember that your clients are not that much connected with the industry (or at least the niche) as you are. That means that content which is obvious or boring to you can be very interesting to them.

Where to find inspiration:

News

Repeating the news makes hardly any sense. Still, commenting on the news is already added value that can be appreciated by readers. A press review, i.e. a compilation of news, for instance, for a whole week, may also be a good idea for the second life of the news.

Reports and research results

Research companies usually publish their results in the form of multipage reports in PDF format. Drawing any conclusions from them for the industry takes time, patience and appropriate knowledge. If you have these resources it may be useful to do some work for your users and prepare an article presenting only the most important findings together with conclusions.

Case studies

Most probably you describe your most interesting realizations in the “Testimonials” section of your company website. For the purposes of your blog you can go deeper and further and describe implementations for less known clients or implementations which weren’t so spectacular. Consider also describing realizations in which your company played little role and even those in which it didn’t take part at all.

Best practices and revealing of “secrets”

Few branches of industry (arms industry?) operate in isolation, with no greater flow of know-how. In the majority of industries well-tried techniques and technologies are known to everyone and nobody preaches to the converted. However, this information can be something new and something incredibly interesting for clients. And all the more when you call this “revealing of secrets” of the industry or company X. 😉

Employees

It’s sometimes worth having a brainstorming with company employees from other departments. A particularly valuable source of information are employees who have a direct contact with the client, i.e. who work in Sales and Customer Services. They know it best what clients ask about and where they lack knowledge.

Internet

Follow trade forums and Q&A type websites – there’s every likelihood that this is exactly the place where users from your target group ask their questions. It’s also probable that they enter their questions into the search engine so it’s worth using Google Keyword Planner and checking what keywords it suggests.
You may also monitor the net for trade keywords. Google Alerts will automatically inform you as soon as it finds new content that includes them.

Competition

They must have also come up with the idea of blogging or they will do that soon. In this case it’s not so much about being inspired by the content they publish as about referring to it. A complement to an article, polemic or another point of view.

Readers

If your blog already has a group of loyal readers, who are active and comment on your posts, you can easily ask them what they would like to read about.

Please also consider guest blogging that I wrote about recently in the post “12 ways to attract users to your website” (point 6).

Motivation

For a blogger (be it you or your subordinate) to be motivated it’s good if they are aware that the published content builds not only the company image but also the author’s image.
An author of a good blog receives invitations to trade events, job offers, enquiries about consulting. In the recruitment process an expert image is taken into account and may have a significant influence not only on its result but also on the remuneration amount.

If you are in crisis and can’t stand the sight of your keyboard, record a podcast or a video. If you have oratorical skill you will record an interesting material without writing a script.

Blogging calendar

To maintain the discipline of blogging you may try holding a calendar, i.e. planning subjects of posts well in advance.
This will also let you divide the posts rather evenly between blog categories and prepare in advance for important trade events, holidays etc.

At the end

Almost 3 million posts are published every day in the world [source].
If you don’t start today, tomorrow you may fall behind even within the sphere of your own industry.

Comments (1)

Kenji Wellman 29-11-2013 wrote:

Have you tried just asking your followers on twitter?

I’ve written an app to crowdsource app ideas from twitter at http://www.twtspire.com/. I’d like to see if it’s possible to do the same but with blog post ideas.

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