Your company has a blog, but it’s currently just promoting your products – leading to little traffic or engagement from visitors. You’re starting to wonder if blogging is worth it. However, if you can conduct effective audience research and develop content that speaks directly to that audience, the time invested in a content strategy will be well worth the effort. In terms of SEO benefits alone, companies that have a blog have an incredible 434% more indexed pages than those that do not – a huge leg up on the competition in the SEO marketplace.
The 80/20 Rule
Before we move on to actually creating the content, there’s an important rule to remember: Pareto’s principle of 80/20. For this context, 80% of your content should not be promotional but simply engage your audience. These can be “fun” blog posts that aren’t completely related to your company or product. It’s content your potential customers will enjoy viewing because you aren’t using pushy sales tactics, but are instead educating them on a topic related to your business. Think of this content strategy like being an aggregator of “cool things,” where the “things” are topics your customers care about and are related to your industry or niche.
That leaves 20% of your content for promotional purposes. Coupons, sales, and promoting a specific product all fall under this category. These blog posts could be about, for example, your latest camera and the new technology behind it – giving plenty of reasons why a customer should buy it, but not going for the hard sell. Having a personal voice or story behind the post adds a less salesy element that still effectively promotes the product.
Content Strategy Research
Now let’s dig deeper to determine what content you should post on a regular basis. A great way to research effective blog topics is by reaching out and engaging with customers via social media. Try posting a famous quote that relates to your business – the link can be tenuous if it’s funny. Or ask customers what their favorite product of yours is and why. Not only will you engage with followers, but you’ll receive valuable feedback, which will help you form ideas for blog content.
It’s also important to share content that isn’t your own, but helpful to your customer base. Found an online tool that helps your customers? Discovered an interesting article you think your audience will enjoy? Share it. If you share content created by other companies or people, they too may share your posts and blogs, as well as look favorably on your company. This strategy in tandem with other tactics is referred to by Moz as the “BuzzFeed Approach.” Using their logic, the content doesn’t need to be perfectly in line with your offerings to be a resource worth sharing.
For example, Intel’s social media followers would be bored with just blogs and posts about microchip technology; they care about technology in general.
Red Bull drinkers want to see images and videos of extreme sports, not just advertisements for an energy drink.
Notice that in both Instagram posts, the brand is mentioned – a Red Bull helmet and a computer that is powered by an Intel chipset. This directly relates to what you should be doing with your blog: do some research on what people want to see from you and use that knowledge for your content strategy. What they actually want to see might surprise you!
Moz also points out that social media can be used to research customer needs or profiles, fueling more personalized content creation and conversions. By researching your customers, you’ll likely see patterns emerge. Your customers may share a common link to a specific group, like all following a particular media outlet. You can leverage these insights to target content towards that group, who are then more likely to respond to your blog post or share it on social media. When Person B sees that Person A shared content, Person B might be interested in checking that content out – after all, they’re probably friends due to common interests.
You’ve researched what content your customers like, who they are, and what they’re likely to respond to. You’ve written a post you think will be a hit among your customer base. What’s next?
We head back to social media. Social media, according to a 2014 survey measuring which mediums impact purchase behavior most, influenced 40% of respondents – only 3% less than television. So users aren’t simply on social media for entertainment – they’re looking for insights and advice to make purchase decisions.
Some 65% of adults had a social media account as of last year – and about 90% of young adults ages 18-29 had an account on at least one platform. On average, a global internet user has 5.54 accounts. This means that your blog has the potential to reach a wide audience – especially if you target the right networks.
Now it’s time to share those blog posts. Facebook and Twitter are great places to start with this. Both are perfect for linking to your posts and provide the ability to interact with readers. You can answer questions about your blog and discuss the contents. The more discussion, the more that a post has caught a customer’s attention. This is a great indicator of a topic you should return to in another blog post.
If your blog post is image-heavy, a better route may be Pinterest or Instagram. With Pinterest, you can sign up as a business rather than a person. Adding the “pin” widget to your website allows pinning straight to a user’s board, encouraging interaction. Pinterest is great for infographics or product posts – like what customers have done with your products after they purchase.
For example, someone might buy a piece of furniture from IKEA, but “hack” it to be something different. Creating a post of the top 10 hacks for your product and sharing it on Pinterest is exactly what the DIY crowd looks for. Browsing your customer’s Pinterest pages can give you a good idea of what they’re interested in as well.
While Instagram has yet to implement business accounts, they do provide resources for businesses. The platform is ideal for photos or videos of your employees or events. You can also promote products through tutorials or display them with a photogenic background. Build your Instagram brand by sticking with a particular visual style and varying between filtered and nonfiltered images.
Post photos or videos leading up to an event, and then ask your audience to upload their own photos of the event afterward using a particular hashtag. Similar to connecting to customers who creatively used a product, running a photo contest through Instagram by using a hashtag is simple and gets people talking about your brand. You can engage your audience further by allowing them to vote for their favorite.
Time Your Posts
Finally, consider when you’re posting on social media to reach the maximum number of customers. This infographic explains the best time to post on each platform. For instance, for Fortune 500 companies that post on Pinterest, the best time to post a fashion pin is 3 p.m. on Fridays – just before people start heading off for the weekend. Neil Patel, the creator of the infographic linked to above, saw a 39% increase in traffic when he targeted peak posting times on social media. There are programs such as Hootsuite or Buffer that automate the posting process, allowing you to share links to your blog at any time – even when you’re away from the computer.
In March, Instagram made changes to how their timeline delivers posts, making it algorithm-based, much like Facebook. The aim is to serve users with content they are likely to be interested in, rather than simply the most recent posts. Timing strategies may not work as well on Instagram because of this change.
Engage your audience, connect with them through the pieces of content they like and interact with, and use the knowledge gained to do research and write blog posts. Share the posts on social media to start the cycle over, leading to more research, better blogs, positive feedback – and more conversions for your business.