Are you wondering what it will take to stand out among 400 million registered blogs? By now, you have likely heard how the latest in visual storytelling, entertainment and inspirational content can set you apart. But there are a lot of basics to blogging that we often neglect. This blog series describes what it takes to ensure your blogs are tuned to target audiences (Part I), focused on attraction (Part II) and backed by consistent quality (Part III).
Getting your blogs T-U-N-E-D for audience connection implies that you are writing on burning issues relevant to your hyper-targeted audience. It also means that the content is new and easy to digest since the average time to decide on blog reading is under ten seconds.
So one of the first questions to ask when researching topics for your blog is whether the topic is new and trending upward. To help in this effort, there are many tools you can use to gain insight about the latest Google and Twitter search queries. For example, I selected the domain name “blog.socialcontenmarketing.com” to host my blog based on what I found on Google Trends for search popularity as well as what Topsy revealed on the level of Twitter engagement for this term. Based on the results, it made sense to use the long tailed term as a common thread throughout all of my posts.
But tuning your blogs to trends goes beyond a mere search for SEO queries. Another way to ensure high trending is to tie their posts to current events. Just witness the many ways bloggers attempt to tie in Mother’s Day or the Super Bowl into their blog post storylines.
User Generated Questions
The second question to ask in tuning your content is whether the post is too focused on your own offerings instead of answered a user generated question. One of the best ways to have your content resonate with an audience is to address an issue that keeps them up at night.
For Marcus Sheridan, this meant preempting his target audience’s questions like:
- What does a fiber glass pool cost?
- Who are the best suppliers?
- What are some of the shortcomings in pool life and installation?
To his pleasure, no one else seemed willing to address these issues for fear of competitive exploitation or the risk of creating a premature expectation with the prospect.
Like Marcus, a common practice followed by leading bloggers is to actually survey their customers on what they are most anxious about when considering a solution the blogger can address. Others examine the FAQs logged over time from their field sales force or customer support teams.
Another approach is to observe the questions that come up in discussion forums like those found in LinkedIn Groups. Ideally, you want to answer aggravating questions that cost your readers time and money. This will further help in search results since questions on cost and aggravating pain points get searched very day.
Based on the exploding number of registered blogs, the route often taken by successful bloggers is to hyper-target their content with long-tailed topics. For example, to connect in today’s overcrowded blogosphere, you have to offer more than advice on ladies footwear. You have to offer tips specific to elderly athletic women’s footwear.
Ideally, every post should be mapped to one of your target audience personas along the lines of the residential realtor example shown below. Starting with four targeted audiences identified by their spending motivations (sunbelt retreats, wealth management, life transition and temporary accommodations), sixteen personas were identified based on their unique habits and aspirations. This led to a clearer understanding of pain points that would not be recognized without dissecting the audience into distinct personas.
The mistake made by many is to assume you can write for everyone. But imagine the interest an ROI Maximizer persona would have in first purchase handholding or the interest a Mobile Crew persona would have in high society acceptance. By targeting as niche an audience as possible, realtors have an opportunity to address a target audience’s biggest pain point by tailoring everything to help only them. And by writing the post as though it were solving a specific problem for a single person (i.e., singlecasting), readers will likely credit you with empathy, helpfulness and expertise.
Once a blog topic candidate is considered, it is important to ensure it doesn’t date quickly. Known as evergreen content, some blog posts can be written once and re-run in the future without it being rendered obsolete. This is why blogs on how-to’s or foundational topics are more effective than news stories. Writing a blog on conservative politics, for example, could remain perpetually relevant. But a story on “Top Tea Party Members Likely to Shake Up the Republican Party” would not likely have any value two years from the post.
The timelessness of this content gives it a high search ranking and great potential for accumulating links over time. As a result, traffic to the blog will improve over time as the evergreen content continues to gain traction with its target audiences.
The final question to ask when tuning your blogs for audience connection relates to how easy it to digest. Blog readers like posts that are concise and to the point. This starts with putting aside your writing formalities and using a conversational tone. If you write like you speak, your content more often stays on topic.
Consider the use of visual components as much as possible provided that they are self-explanatory. As discussed earlier, visual components like infographics are mentally processed much quicker than text.
All this assumes that the reader caught the gist of your topic from a well-crafted title and an opening sentence question that sets the stage for what is to come. The title itself has to let the reader know how the post will benefit them. And if the title includes a numbered sequence like “5 Ways to…” or 7 Steps to …” readers gain an expectation for and sense of accomplishment from completion.
So what are some of your additional suggestions for T-U-N-I-N-G your blogs for audience connection?