I recently realized that people today are about as non-committal as possible. They can’t even commit to saying no. And it’s not just millennials, either.
At first, I found this annoying. I later realized that, based on the world we live in, it kind of makes sense. And in the world of content marketing, it actually makes complete sense.
Consumers are bombarded with thousands of messages every day coming from multiple channels. You can no longer just expect organic posts to attract large numbers of eyeballs and shares. Even without ad blockers, people tune out a lot of the noise on social media.
There is one content initiative that, when done right, can not only reach people but resonate with them enough to turn them into loyal advocates for your brand. We’re talking about your company’s blog.
Does it require some legwork? Yes. But once you’ve found that secret ingredient to make your content irresistible? It’s a whole lot easier. And, luckily for you, you’ve come to the right place to find it.
The intersection of journalism and the digital age
About 22 years ago, a freelance writer named Justin Hall catapulted himself into the journalism field with his personal blog. Now, while that statement might not be an eyebrow-raiser today, it was a concept that was completely out of the ordinary at the time.
At age 19, Justin started Justin’s Links, a website that was among the first of its kind, prompting New York Times Magazine to title Hall “the founding father of personal bloggers” in 2004.
From there, Hall became something of a media phenomenon through the eccentricity of his blog, where he shared everything from nude photos and diary entries to his thoughts on the future of media and the potential of the internet.
“So here was this long-haired internet guy talking to these guys in neckties, who thought, the internet is coming, and I could say, yes, it will put you all out of business,” Hall says. “This is journalism of the future. Give someone a digital camera, a laptop, and a cellular phone, and you’ve got an on-the-spot multimedia storyteller from anywhere in the world,” reads a transcript of one of his talks from 1995.
While Hall never profited directly from Justin’s Links, his blog served a much greater purpose toward the future of content marketing. It was the beginning of online journalism and building personal brands and audiences. A model that is the core of what we do today.
What about blogs now?
In the past, you might have seen some ROI from simply pushing out articles week after week – but that’s not enough anymore. As we’ve learned, blogs have been done. In order to set yourself apart from your competitors, drive more traffic and breed customer loyalty, you’ll have to approach blogs differently.
According to New York Times Insights, 94 percent of people who share posts do so because they think it might be helpful to others. So for content to be shareable, it has to actually be useful?
Yes. In an ideal world, people read your post and then quickly (and happily) sign up for your newsletter, download your e-book and peruse your online site looking for something else to purchase. And yes, ideally that’s what should happen when someone new comes to your site. That’s what could happen. So, why doesn’t it? Because most people tend to automatically assume it will happen.
Winning brands understand that in order to be successful, they have to create content experiences that people care about. What matters to them? What moves them? What will inspire them to keep coming back?
Let’s find out.
How to create an irresistible blog post
According to research conducted by Compendium, 80 percent of all the daily traffic on a blog consists of new visitors. This leaves you with two choices, either convert these first-time visitors into readers or let them slip away.
While the answer seems clear, the somewhat sobering reality is that only about 18 percent of your readers will actually make it past your headline. And of those, not every one of them will convert.
In order to create a blog with craveable enough content that people will want to share it, you’ll need a combination of things.
When it comes down to actually writing your blog post, the best place to start is to create a content list. This is simply a list of the knowledge you want to share with other people. Then, ask yourself: What’s the problem? How can we agitate it? How do we solve it?
If someone is looking at your blog, it’s most likely because they think you could potentially solve a problem for them. That’s why topics based on consumer pain points drive the most conversions. And if a consumer has a pain point, they’re probably in a “buying” state of mind to fix it.
So, what will YOU offer them?
Start with a ‘why’
This is the first and possibly most important ingredient in creating a shareable blog. Why are you writing this blog for your customers? Sometimes you might be given a topic that you’re not all that thrilled about, but your ‘why’ should never be “because I was told to.” You can do better than that. If you don’t have a reason for your blog, that will reflect in your writing and people will feel it. Take a critical look and ensure your company’s blog is servicing its customers.
Do Your Research
You should never create content without knowing what your audience wants or needs from it. Do your research on where and how your audience is talking about your brand, and any potential problems you can help them solve.
How does your target demographic consume content? With a little research, you’ll be to identify which types of industries and markets prefer long-form over short-form content or what factors increase shareability and engagement.
You can also reverse-engineer this process. Not everyone wants to dive into a 3,000 word blog. To hook a larger audience, you can break down your blog into smaller, digestible pieces of content. Smart, long-form content is more time-intensive because of the research it requires, but it also provides you with an arsenal of shorter, valuable content that you can share on a regular basis.
Add a little humanity
This is often the piece people forget. Blogs aren’t social – people are. It’s the people reading your blogs that you’re trying to talk to. And, to fully utilize the power of blogs, you have to understand how to connect with people. Some of the best writers draw from personal experiences.
Here’s an example from one of my favorite websites, Copy Blogger:
“I met a woman at a networking event last year. I’ll call her Nicki. Nicki and I chatted for a
few minutes, and she struck me as smart and motivated. I liked her. That was six months
ago, and now Nicki’s emails are driving me insane.”
For an article that’s about bulk email regulations, that opening line piques your interest a little more than you might have expected, right? So, while finding inspiration for blog posts might sound difficult in theory, it actually only requires one simple thing: being human.
As the digital world we live in continues to grow, the more people just want to connect. Find connections wherever you can, and then write about them in the first-person. After all, those are the ones that get shared at the most.
See related: How to Humanize Your Brand
And finally, a whole lot of awesome
When it comes to owned media, authenticity is a magnet for empathy and loyalty, and a well-thought out blog provides the ultimate opportunity to establish an authentic brand voice and personality. Although social networks can be used to supplement your brand’s message, facilitating relationships within your brand’s own channel is your best means for success. The sooner you start to build that relationship, the sooner you’ll reap the rewards.
Now, put it all together
Although I’ve just shared with you my secret recipe for success, the real secret is this: you’re more interesting than you realize. You have what you need to share your insights and information with your audience. Above all else, people want to be inspired.
Which is exactly why you need to go out there and give them some inspiration. Show those one-time visitors the value your content can provide for them. Share them from your unique perspective. If this inspired you to start your blog, or there’s something I missed, feel free to drop me a line in the comments below.
Until then, happy blogging!
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