Remember when you were a teenager and had a diary, basically just jotting down the random thoughts that came into your head mixed in the minutiae of your day? Perhaps you get irrationally annoyed at Facebook friends who consistently update every single aspect of their life?
THEN WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS ON YOUR BLOG!!
I'll admit, this post is particularly ironic, as I'm going to advise you not to write the first thing that pops into your head, however this post was inspired by a particularly difficult conversation with a potential client, and I couldn't wait to get the words down! As a provider of content writing services, we are often asked to take a look at our clients articles and copy to ascertain why it's not working too well.
Speak to any marketing agency, and probably the first thing they are going to ask is whether you have a place on your site for updating exciting new content - be blog page or newsfeed. And they are correct - relevant, interesting content that is both valuable to your audience and relevant to your industry or niche is one of the most powerful tools that you have in your marketing toolkit.
But note - I used the word relevant twice in paragraph (damn I've even used it again!) And this is the key... All too often individuals are either writing about a totally off the wall topic for their website or trying to shoe-horn in news or subjects that, while are perhaps trending in the wider world, bear no relation to the product or service which they provide!
They then wonder why either their blog is getting no traffic, or they are getting a load of traffic, but nothing is converting... Here's why...
The 'Let's get something to go viral' effect
This is where you've created a top notch piece of interesting content, it's current, it's popular, funny, and bound to be shared everywhere... You've cracked it! You've made viral campaign - Woo! Well done you! But - hold on, while your stunning video of hippos dancing on tables is being shared once every minute - your sales haven't seen even a slight increase, and your website has no visitors - what's gone wrong? I'll tell you what's gone wrong - you didn't reach a relevant audience and you drove the audience you did reach straight to Youtube where you posted the video... ''But we had our logo and a link to our site at the end'' You cry! Well within five minutes, someone had cut that bit out and repackaged your video - and those that did see instantly forgot because 'dancing hippos' right?
The point is - getting something to spread like wildfire on the internet is a dream goal - and yes incredibly useful in raising awareness of you, your business or your cause - but it needs to be relevant and have a clear call to action - or, very rarely you can get away with one of those things - the Ice Bucket Challenge probably wouldn't tick the box as relevant, but as people posted their videos, there was a clear call to action (spread by posters themselves) to donate.
The 'Me Myself and I' Blog
This is where I feel a teeny bit uncomfortable, but I'm just going to come right out and say it... A little bit about you is good - people do want to get to know the person behind the brand, and understand if your values align with theirs... However, this can tip into what amounts to an online diary - great if your blog is basically 'My online diary', but not so great if your say, the CEO of a construction company. From the CEO, I may want to know what he thinks of changes to legislation in the industry, perhaps a tale of his 'back to the floor' experience working on a building site, or maybe just once, a little profile that even mentions what he does to relax and his favourite type of music (am betting on grime).
What, in all honestly I don't want to read is a day by day explanation of his life in the office, in 200 word posts that read 'Had an exciting meeting, more coming in the next blog, had cornflakes for breakfast'.
The other trap I've seen in house marketers fall into is writing on a topic that may be really interesting... to them! I have genuinely seen articles about gaming - on an accountancy site - a great piece, interesting, informative, and relevant - to gamers... Possibly not so much for someone who was seeking advice about their tax return.
Do your research
The name of the game here is to check what your potential clients or users are going to be interested in - what do they want to know about you, what are their needs, and what are they looking for - then create your content around that. One of the first things I talk about is buyer personas - start from there and work your way to the content.
Be current, be daring, but don't do it for it's own sake - make sure your content is for your audience, not for you!
There are so many tools you can use to research what your potential audience is looking for - I talk about a lot of them! Use them! And, please... for the love of God... understand that -if your content isn't driving traffic, building trust, giving relevant information - you have a hobby - not a valuable addition to your marketing toolkit!