We’ve all been there, facing an impending deadline with nothing written. You could miss the deadline, but that just puts the problem off for a few more days and doesn’t address the core issue. So what do you do? Well, hopefully reading this post will give you some fresh ideas on types of content that you can write to resonate with your audience.
The important thing to remember is that no matter which type of content you decide to write, quality is a key ingredient. Simply throwing a post together that adds nothing to communal knowledge or is purely derivative won’t go down well with your audience and can cost you potential future readers.
1. The Informative Post
You know your industry, so you should have an idea of what would be of interest to your audience. Think about things you’ve had to deal with recently; chances are, your readers have had to deal with them too. Talk about how you’ve been impacted, how you’ve dealt with it, and how it’s impacted them. While you may think that your experiences aren’t worth writing about, it can act as an affirmation for your audience that they’re not alone going through the same issues and may even lead to someone commenting a solution you’d not thought about.
2. The How-To Post
A subset of the Informative Post is the How-To post. Putting together a guide for your audience as to how they can best use the XJ-47 or Bing Webmaster Tools can help them to recognize you as an educational resource that they need to keep coming back to.
3. The Timely Post
Your editorial calendar should tell you of upcoming events that may generate some great content ideas for you. Obviously they should be of interest to your audience and/or of crossover interest to those people searching for information about the event you’re writing about. Don’t try to be too clever or try too hard to shoehorn relevance in. For example, a landscaper writing a blog post called “How to Maintain your Grassy Knoll” on the anniversary of the JFK assassination is more likely to draw ire than new customers. Also, be sure to hit the timely part, as writing about the Doctor Who 50th anniversary in December won’t do as well as someone who published a post prior to November 23rd.
4. The Humorous Post
If you know your audience fairly well, then you should have a good idea as to what may tickle their funny bone, and what may not. For example:
Filling out the Google Zoo Over the last few years, Google’s given us Pandas and Penguins and Hummingbirds (oh my?). We’ve seen people conjecturing as to the names of the next update, or even grouping Google changes together and naming them themselves (for the record Google has not confirmed the existence of a Zebra update). So here at SEW, we thought that we should help Google fill out their zoo by suggesting names for updates past, recent, and future.
The Chameleon Update
The ability of a chameleon that everyone is aware of is that of being able to blend into its surroundings. The recent change made by Google to their paid ads has removed the background color, blending those ads in directly with the organic listings.
5. The List Post
While this type of post had its heyday when getting to the home page of Digg meant the world, there has been a resurgence thanks in part to the success of BuzzFeed. A list can be easily digestible to your audience and you can make it funny or informative… all you need to do is keep it around a theme. i.e.:
11 Things I Learned about Search Marketing by Watching Hockey
1. You have to fight for traffic
Organic traffic won’t be handed to you on a plate, you have to out think and out scrap your competition for those clicks. Sure, you may get your helmet knocked off every now and again, and you won’t win every fight, but pick yourself up, dust off, and get ready for the next one.
6. The Interview Post
Chances are, you know interesting people with unique experiences, so why not interview them? Ask them questions that your audience would like to know the answers to; that they’d benefit from. You can take several routes with this:
The Industry Expert
Obviously, an industry expert should have insights that would be of interest to your audience, whether that’s from the perspective of a thought leader, or just based on the experiences they’ve had that others may not have had.
In search marketing, several sites have had “Women of Marketing” interviews, while others have done “In-House Marketing” interviews. Figure out what thematic angle you could possibly take in your industry, and try it out.
People in the industry who aren’t necessarily “out there” but encounter the same issues that your audience does / has. How did they cope when they encountered certain situations? What solutions can they share with your audience for problems they’re struggling with?
Why not have an “Interview with an Intern”? It helps those who are thinking of entering your industry get a feel for what it’s like, and also highlights the growth potential within your organization as they progress (assuming you make it a continuing feature).
7. The Observational Post
Have you seen something that others may not have? Did a street sign trigger thoughts about your industry? Did the fact that the picture that was put on the big screen after a goal was scored showed the player’s twitter account details make you realize that your industry needs to be more socially connected? Write about it.
8. The Futurist Post
You know where your industry is now and you have a fair idea where it’s heading, so write about it. Let your audience know that it’s conjecture on your part, but you can detail why you think some things may change and some may not. You can be as broad or as specific as you want, but be prepared for challenges to your ideas.
9. The Off-Topic Post
This type of post needs to be used sparingly. While it can round out the profile of your company personae to talk about the charitable things that you’ve done, to brag about industry achievements or to rail against an unpopular local government issue that impacts your audience, you do run the risk of alienating readers who hold opposing views, or who only really care to hear about your product/service.
10. The Attack Post
Be very careful using this, as it’s a polarizing tactic that can very easily backfire. Generally, it’s better to respectfully disagree with someone than disrespectfully. It can, and has worked for certain people and brands, but it really does run the risk of alienating people or causing an online flame war in which nobody comes out ahead.
And Finally... 11. The Scrape Other’s Content and Add Virtually Nothing To It Post
Seriously, just don’t.
I knew we should have stopped at ten.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!