For the past two years I have been increasing my involvement in social business. In the process I also kicked up the amount of blog articles I write. When we switched our website to a Wordpress engine, it made sense to keep blogging current. And it has worked in increasing the amount of traffic to our site and created additional business.
That's all well and good but now comes the hard part. In the beginning I had all kinds of information to write about. News is created every day. However, I wanted my posts to be unique. They started out being me finding articles and sharing them on Twitter and Linkedin. But all this told people was what I was interested in and not what my skillsets were. In order to change that I changed my approach and started running series of tweets and blog articles about things we fix or find on a day to day basis.
My customers are noticing this and everyone asks the same question - How do you find topics and inspiration for your posts and blogs. Ah, now we are talking holy grail here. To be frank, the majority of the time it is something that happened during the week. It's amazing how life can generate inspiration. A really bad day with Delta generated a blog article on customer service - or rather lack thereof. A wonderful client visit was fodder for an article on starting a project in one direction and ending up in another whole area - all good and bringing in a lot more money. The basic idea was keep an open mind and when one door closes run through the window.
But not every day brings inspiration so I resort to my favorite tool - Google. There are themes to our work - computers, consulting, CRM, Microsoft, sales, marketing, social media, Lotus Notes. All of those are potential search terms. I find keeping to a theme or series as I call them makes it simple to build a set of tweets for a week. One week I ran a series on Google. Another week it was Windows 8. I just kept searching on different topics and websites I found gave me ideas and often times led me down yet another path. In this way, I am constantly uncovering gems of ideas and information. It's all about persistence.
There are some websites that are aggregators of information. One I frequent is alltop.com. You can enter a search term and it will bring up articles and blog articles that can fuel all kinds of media and blog updates. Another thing I do is set up Google Alerts on topics. On a daily basis I get a summary of articles about the topic I am monitoring. Yes, it does require me to go look at the articles but you get good at scanning. You will be able to tell in a hurry if the topic is not interesting or not pertinent to what you are interested in. But Google does the work for you by scanning the net.
When writing blog articles, which is where you have no character limitations, think about things that have happened in your business over the course of the last few years. Bad things are also good topics because you can write about how you solved a problem. Adversity is yet another mother of invention. Write about the trials and tribulations and the successes of overcoming the problem. There is a silver lining in just about everything we do on a daily basis. You just have to figure out what it is and then map it to the audience you are going after.
Lately I am blogging about problems we fix for customers. I figure that other people might have the same problem and posting a blog article might help someone resolve the issue. This has worked really well and I get a kick out of comments that say "I Love you - I've been struggling with this forever." That to me is the whole reason to blog. To share information and become known as subject matter experts. People have said to me "why would you give away free information." To that I reply "because I want to and because it's the here kitty kitty approach." Like the saying in the movie "If you build it they will come" this is turning out to be very true.
If you read other blogs and comment and answer questions on those blogs, those in turn can become articles in your own blog. You are not copying at this point - you are sharing to your readers what you provided on another blog. I saw this suggestion on another blog and thought, well, gee, they are right.
Finally, you can gain inspiration from pain and passion lessons. What keeps your customers up at night - that's the pain part. What wakes them up bright and early - that's the passion. When you write about something that crosses the pain/passion lines, you have a reader's interest. You know what your clients need - or you should. Write about something that will lure them to your site because they might find an answer. A recent email to me said this: "wow I am hooked. I will be coming back to your site on a more regular basis." And no, this wasn't a spam email - they sent it direct to me. After all those hours of writing, you will wonder if it's making an impression. Yes, you can read your website stats, or analytic but hearing it from a human makes it worth while.
In summary, there are lots of ways to get topics for your social business. Of course, you need to make the first step - get a Twitter and Linkedin Account, and start a blog. Make it a challenge for 2013. You'll be surprised how easy it will get. I promise.
P.S. Here's some links other blog articles I wrote that are pertinent to this post.