As a writer, as well as a dedicated user of social media, it is sometimes a challenge to keep coming up with topics that are interesting and engaging. Yes, you heard right–even I struggle as a weekly blog writer from all the research and information I read.
Topics and content are what secure your social media following. Without interesting content, no one wants to engage, and then all the time and effort you put into social media becomes futile and a waste of time. At the same time, you cannot just write about some random topic that has no relation to your industry just because some people may find it interesting. If you are using social media, you have to realize that you cannot reach everyone. What you need to do is discuss things that are relevant to your industry, and valuable to your followers/fans.
The power of social media is undeniable. It assists in building rapport, can increase web traffic or even bring in walk-ins! That is why content is so very important. Social media can be the fuel behind your business, and content is the fuel for your social media. What you need is a source for your content, your fuel, that will not only help you get over that crippling condition known as writers’ block, but make your social media postings a “must read.”
Everyone needs a little helping hand, so here are some tips that will help to make sure you never run out of fuel for your fire.
1. Get Everyone Involved!
The amazing thing about people being different from one another is that everyone has an opinion, a perspective and general way of looking at things that are fresh, new and exciting. This is why it is a great idea to get all of your employees involved in your blogging and social media activities. They may have ideas about content that never once occurred to you, or have a new way of approaching a topic that to you seemed boring and useless. If you have a FAQ (frequently asked questions) area on your website, or a place for comments or concerns, have employees write blogs in response. That way, not only are you answering customer questions and solving potential problems, but you are creating content that is relevant and valuable to your following from multiple points of view. And just to make sure that all blogs and postings are formatted the same, you can create templates! Go to contentrulesbook.com for some template ideas.
2. Use an RSS Reader to View Your Subject Specific Blogs at a Glance.
Every writer needs a source of inspiration. One tried and true method is to study the subject you want to write about by reading what other experts have already written. You can sign up for a free RSS Reader that will allow you to see all of the blogs you are subscribed to in one place instead of hunting the Internet for interesting topics to write about. As always, Google is an amazing resource for just about everything. Google offers a free RSS Reader (Google Reader), as well as a place for you to go and search for and subscribe to blogs that are relevant to your industry. If you have a few different areas of interest, you can divide them into categories which will make it easier for you to scan and pick out what you want to talk about. As with all writing, you must make it your own. Combine the new ideas you have read about with your own creativity and ingenuity to create a blog that is new, exciting, and full of valuable and relevant content.
Also try using Google Blogs for their search option to search the blog directory sites such as Technorati
as shown below or Blogcatalog to find blogs that are relevant to your product or service. Be sure to organize your RSS Feeds into folders and sort by category for ease of scanning and you can combine the topics by industry classifications with your own commentary to create posts that stand on their own.
3. Use LinkedIn Groups.
The internet is a constant source for finding tools. Some of the tools offered do not appear that way at first, so you must open your mind and look at everything as a potential resource. One resource you may not have thought of is LinkedIn! I know, it seems crazy to use social media as a social media content resource, but used the right way, LinkedIn can be an effective tool.
There are hundreds of groups discussing hundreds of topics, and believe me, people have no problem expressing their opinions. Join groups that are relevant to your industry, and again, take advantage of experts in your field being willing to share their knowledge. It is never a bad thing to look at things from another’s point of view.
Don’t be shy, everyone does it. And it is truly a great way of finding out what the average Joe is interested in. Of course you do not have to listen to everyone’s conversations at all times, but keep an ear out for key words that are relevant to your niche in the world. You can even go as far as carrying a little notepad and pen around with you so you can jot things down as you hear them or even better use Evernote to make it easier to remember things whether big or small, using your computer, the web or even your phone. You can do this while waiting in lines, sitting on the train, or an airplane, or eating out are all good opportunities to hear what interests the average consumer.
5. Audience Participation.
Here is a concept that seems obvious but is so often overlooked: ask your audience. Post something on Facebook or Twitter asking what THEY would like to read about. Many times your followers and fans know exactly what kind of advice they want from you, and they will not hesitate to tell you when given the chance. You can also take polls, surveys and ask questions to find out what the general public is interested in learning from you. Your client base is the backbone of your business, so do not forget about them. You write blogs so they will read them, so who better to go to for subject matter?
6. Audio Books.
What on Earth did we do before the Internet? Oh yes – we read books! We sat down and actually took time out of our day to study, research and learn. Of course I understand that we do not always have a few hours to just drop everything and read a book, but that is why they invented audio books! You can be driving down the highway and still reading, but in a much safer way. The basic point here is not to get so wrapped up in the up and coming way of doing things that you forget about our old friend, the book–believe it or not, they are still around. Check out eMusic or Audible for a nice selection of titles to choose from.
Call it old fashion, but you should never forget our old friend, the forum. Do a simple web search about forums in your industry and see what is going on. This method is simple, fast and effective, so why not use it? You do not even have to tell people where you found your information if you don’t want to.
8. News Sources.
Isn’t it terrible to be behind the times on current events? Well, there is a way to avoid that…keep up with current events! These days there are an infinite number of sources available for news no matter what topic. You can use sites like http://www.AllTop.com or Google News that will allow you to search current events by area of interest. You can find news about your industry from all over the world and instantly have a topic to blog about or share with your fans. Just take a look; you will be surprised what you can find.
9. Go To Events.
I know this one kind of seems like a no-brainer, but just like getting feedback from your audience, this tip is often neglected. Attend meetings, conferences, seminars, webinars, tradeshows, or any other kind of face to face event relevant to your industry. It gives you a chance to learn the up and comings of your industry as well as gather interesting new content to share with your following. Try setting up your own Meetups, Tweetchats, Conferences or Webinars through a wealth of events hosted both on and offline and on a weekly basis with so much free exchange of wealth of knowledge and ideas. You will be left inspired with new ideas and new-found energy to turn those ideas into remarkable content.
10. Merge Your Unfinished Ideas!
If you are anything like me, I am sure you have a plethora of half-finished blogs hanging around, just waiting for something to be done with them. Today is your lucky day, because I am going to share with you how to turn them into a workable, post-able source of information. Go through your blogs and see if you can find a few with related topics, then merge them together–simple as that! Not only have you freed up space on your computer, but you have just created an amazingly informative blog out of ideas you never thought would go anywhere.
11. Try Making a Tag Cloud.
You can use entire conversations based around your keywords that are relevant to you to build a tag cloud. Look for 15 tweets that mention your brand, industry or product and drop them into a tag cloud application such as Wordle. This is a site that is a toy for generating “word clouds” from the text you provide. These clouds give greater prominence to your words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can also tweak the clouds you create with different fonts, color schemes and layouts. The images you create with this tool are yours to use whenever you like. You can print them out or even save them to the Wordle gallery to share with all your friends. You may even find keywords you may not have thought of in addition to a few surprise topics of association. This is a great way to find emerging trends to blog about and stretch your content dollar!
DJ Heckes, CEO & Author
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts
Full BRAIN Marketing
About the Author
DJ Heckes is Founder/CEO of Full BRAIN Marketing, LLC – a Woman-owned small business headquartered in Albuquerque, NM and author of Full BRAIN Marketing for the Small Business.