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Archive for June, 2009

For Your Blog or Social Media: Write What You Know, Not What You Think People Want.

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

People often inquire whether a topic is good.  Usually they want to know whether it will attract search engines or an audience.  This is the wrong question to be asking.  The right question is whether this topic directly applies to what my blog or social media site is about.

Why is trying to write for what you think there is an audience for misguided?  Two reasons:

  1. You’re asking an unanswerable question – It’s almost impossible for anyone to predict an audience for a topic.  With enough testing, a conclusion could likely be arrived at but the problem is that it’s just as efficient to just write and post on a topic.  If the audience is there, they’ll show up.  If not, then you still have posted meaningful content that will remain available to anyone interested in the material.
  2. It’s an irrelevant question – There is an audience for any topic if the content is well written, straight forward, and easily acquired.  It might be a small group or take time for them to arrive, but there is always a demand for orginal valuable content.

So how do you select a topic to write about?  Easy, what currently inspires you.  It can be a small tip or a larger essay.  As long as it’s in-line with the subject of the blog or social media site, it’s fair game.

Don’t get hung up on what people might want.  There is likely an audience (no matter how small) for any insightful content you can provide about your selected subject.  Go with a steady constant which is relevant material from a content expert. 

An Online Single Content Source Has Singular Content

Monday, June 8th, 2009

I previously posted about making social networking sustaninable through a single content source.  There is a hidden pitfall here.  A single content source needs to be singular.  That means it speaks to a single topic.  My blog is an example of stretching about as far as possible.  I cover internet marketing, SEO, email marketing, and website maintenance.  These three pieces are pretty closely related.  I could probably include something like web design to stretch it further if I chose.  What I can’t do is make posts about an action movie I just saw, coin collecting, or my favorite recipes.  They aren’t related so they don’t belong.  The single content source needs to have a single consistent topic.

Many people that have social networking sites and point them to a single content source start bending this rule because it saves time.  There professional blog starts getting notes about a party with their friends.  Worse yet the two worlds collide when their crazy friend leaves expletive language about how crazy the party was.  Pick the singular content and never stray from it.

Breaking largely varying topics into categories is not appropriate.  Categories should be very specific and interrelated to other posts, not a whole new topic.

So what if you have a professional blog but want to write about stamp collecting?  Easy, start another blog.  You can write about as many topics as you’d like, time allowing, just make sure it’s in the right place. 

Two problems arise when you break your topic into multiple blogs:

  • The amount of work has just doubled
  • Social networking needs to be intelligently segmented to get that audience to what they want.

For the extra work, there’s no way around it.  Think of it as opening up double the audience.  For segmenting social networking, you can start by reviewing some I covered in a previous post.

Identify who likely wants the content.  LinkedIn likely doesn’t need your stamp collecting posts.  Business contacts probably want info from your professional blog.  Facebook might not be interested in your professional site but your stamp collecting friends will want an update on your stamp blog.  Twitter might need both.  Since commenting is restricted that might not be terrible, just make sure titles make it clear what people should expect.  You don’t want your professional blog readers stumbling into your stamp blog and thinking your business has taken a radical turn in expertise.

The real reason to make a single content source singular is to provide readers with the content they desire.  It promises content about a certain topic.  Filling it with unrelated material is not only confusing, it betrays the people that find it.  Make sure that people who find their way to your single content source via social networking or search engines receive what they were promised.