By Neal Taparia
Content marketing is a valuable marketing strategy for startups. Unfortunately, creating relevant business content is hard.
We’ve all asked ourselves, “What should I write about?” Even after identifying your customer personas, your target market, and your tone of voice, selecting a topic and is still hard. It’s no different than when you struggled figuring out what you’d write a college paper on. Below are three strategies for making it easier.
Take inspiration from trending events
Every day, there are interesting news events that you can draw lessons from. There are also scheduled events, like the World Cup or the Oscars. How can you connect your subject area to those events?
For example, our GetCourse team writes a blog about “Efficient Procrastination: Business tips in 5 minutes.” Recently, they authored an article about how the Oscars can teach you lessons on how to build a brand on Twitter. When the IAC exec, Justine Sacco, sent a tweet about Africa that went viral, numerous publications jumped on the opportunity to turn this into a teaching lesson. FindLaw wrote a blog called “Top 3 PR Lessons From Justine Sacco’s Twitter Nightmare.”
Where can you find topics that inspire you?
- Check out Twitter’s search page. Find popular hashtags that you can then tune into.
- Yahoo’s homepage shows which search queries are trending.
- Google trends is exactly what it sounds like.
Make your content memorable
Now that you have your topic, how do you make it memorable? An effective strategy is to build emotion.
I know, it sounds vague. So how do you create content that engenders strong emotion?
- Tie emotions to a trending event. Say you are writing an article about building relationships in the workplace. Try tying that into one of the Hollywood relationships that so many people love hearing about. (Just glance at US Weekly.) You can write about the importance of loyalty, and how Robin Thicke’s breakup represents a lack of it.
- Make someone laugh or feel nostalgic. For example, tell me that this Olympics commercial doesn’t make you want to kind of tear up. A good way to tie a story into an article is to draw on your own experiences. For example, what if instituting a weekly date night revitalized your relationship. This can relate to how spending quality one-on-one time with your colleagues can translate into better relationships, management, and productivity.
- Take chances. This could mean being controversial. Take a side on an issue that people can support fervently, or dislike strongly. Derek Halperin, who writes the Social Triggers blog, does this often. See, for instance, the post titled: “Should I use those annoying pop-ups?”
- Make it personally relevant to your target audience. On our EasyBib blog, which is read by thousands of educators, we created a quiz called “Which Dewey Decimal Category are You?” Through a series of questions, our quiz determined which section of the Dewey Decimal system best represented the reader’s personality. Our readers loved it because of its personal relevance to them. It was shared 22.5K times and had over 100,000 page views.
Research trending topics
Instead of news items, research topics people find interesting right now. Then, comment on or build upon those same topics. Here are three ways to find trending topics:
- Join industry-specific LinkedIn LNKD -7.82% groups and see which discussions are popular. For example, on the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) group, there was a post asking if fun in the workplace was overrated. Dozens of people commented. This can be a great topic to research and write an informed post. (Bonus: You can then share it in a comment on that same group thread.)
- Check out Spike by Newswhip. It shows you which articles are being most shared right now.
- Charles Floate, who runs the God of SEO blog, suggests Googling a blog’s URL in quotes. Google GOOG -1.71% will likely show you the most popular posts on that blog.
What’s one thing you can do right now?
Be cognizant of the world around you. What interesting events and stories engage you right now? Why are they so fascinating to you? What insights do they provide into your business or industry? Jot it down, and see how it might help inspire you in your content marketing efforts.
Neal Taparia is Co-CEO of Imagine Easy Solutions. The new product GetCourse allows anyone to create online training courses.