5 Easy Ways to Brainstorm Blog Topic Ideas

As a social media marketer, content is at the core of my practice. Without insightful, educational, or interesting content to share, I don’t have anything to talk about online.

While curating content is an important part of social media marketing, I’ve found that producing my own content on my company’s blog has been a great way to build credibility for myself and my company. The business blogs that I’ve contributed to in the past have proven to be instrumental in my social media strategy, as they help me meet business goals by driving targeted traffic back to the business’ website.

The trick, however, is blogging often enough to make an impact. Regular blogging has clear benefits to your business: first, it helps your website get indexed more frequently by search engines so that you rank higher in search results; second, it drives a steady flow of traffic to your website to help new prospects discover your business; third, it keeps you top of mind for returning visitors; and finally, yes, it can even help you generate leads.

But, sometimes, it can be difficult to come up with enough blog topic ideas to keep the content coming; this is a common problem.  Allow me to offer five tips for brainstorming blog topic ideas so you can publish on a regular schedule.

Blog Topic Ideas | #1 Newsjacking

One of my favorite methods for coming up with great blog topic ideas is to newsjack, or write a blog post about a recent news story. For example, when Facebook announced its algorithm changes, everyone was writing blog posts about what the changes were, what impact they might have, what they liked, and what they didn’t like, etc.

When I’ve done this in the past, I always tried to add value above and beyond the basic announcement, providing insight on who the news would affect, how it would affect them, and what they could do about it. This helped my posts stand out from the other articles. Use social media monitoring tool to keep up to date with the use of hashtags amongst your target audience.

Blog Topic Ideas | #2 Create Reaction Posts

Oftentimes, I’ll read a blog post that really gets me thinking – and I’ll want to contribute to the conversation. Rather than writing a novel in the comments section of another blog, I’ll write a reaction post on my own blog. This gives me the freedom to provide an in-depth response to something that intrigued me, and helps me come up with blog topic ideas that at least one other person might be interested in (i.e. the original author)!

Blog Topic Ideas | #3 Share and Discuss Infographics

I often get blog topic ideas from infographics that are related to my blog’s focus. If I see one on Mashable, Pinterest, or another blog that I think would be interesting to my community, I upload the image and do a short write up on it. I usually include something I found surprising, or I’ll pick one of the main points and elaborate on it.  I recently did this on my article How to Get More Followers on Twitter. I found an incredible infographic with tons of great tips for increasing your Twitter following, and wrote a blog post about my four favorite.  If you want to take this tip to the next level, create your own infographic and write up a blog post about it!  (Note: this tip also works for videos you find interesting.)

Blog Topic Ideas | #4 Interview Someone

Rather than trying to come up with a 600-1,000 word post, I will sometimes come up with a few questions that I can ask a customer, thought leader or business partner and have them create the majority of the content. In the past, I’ve done simple email interviews with various thought leaders about industry trends; I send them the questions, and they email their answers back. This was a fun way to collaborate with others in my industry, and they helped me promote the interview to get broader reach. I’ve also seen people run live Google Plus hangouts for these types of interviews, which can be recorded and embedded on your blog, and uploaded to YouTube and Vimeo. It’s a nice bonus to come up with great blog topic ideas that can be reused in other types of content.

Blog Topic Ideas | #5 Get Ideas from the Google AdWords Keyword Planner

Each time I write a blog post, I type my post’s keywords into the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to see if I can optimise my post for search engines. By doing so, I get alternative, suggested keywords, complete with metrics on the degree of competition for the keywords and the number of monthly searches. This is full of great blog post ideas! For example, when I typed in “Twitter Marketing,” I found that “how to use Twitter” had low competition and 135,000 global, monthly searches. That’s definitely low-hanging fruit from an SEO perspective, so I add that to my list of future blog topic ideas.

I also try to think up some related blog topics ideas, like “How to Use Twitter for Lead Generation,” “How to Use Lists on Twitter,” and “How to Use Twitter Search to Keep an Eye on My Competitors.” Rather than trying to come up with blog topic ideas in a crunch, I’ve found it extremely beneficial to have a list of ideas already at my disposal.

What are your favorite ways to brainstorm blog topic ideas? Share them below, and they may be featured on a future post!

3 Steps to Outstanding Media Outreach

The more context you have for journalists, the more your media outreach will stand out.

A recent media relations post on the Meltwater PR Blog offered up a surprising statistic: in 2010 PR professionals outnumbered journalists 4 to 1. The effect that this imbalance has had on the media industry is well-known: you have to stand out from the crowd for your media outreach to be effective. The secret to successful media outreach, and to standing out, is getting more context on individual journalists.

 

 

 

The secret to successful media outreach is getting more context on individual journalists

click to tweet

This doesn’t mean that you have to do your job differently! Follow the same media outreach process as always, but start recognizing that each part of the media outreach process raises a critical question.

  • Journalist targeting. Does the journalist fit within the broad context of my pitch?

 

  • Journalist research. Does my pitch align with the journalist’s specific, recent interests?

 

  • Journalist outreach. How can I ensure the journalist sees my pitch?

 

The more you learn about journalists and the more complete your answers are to the above, the more successful your media outreach will be. The problem is that many PR professionals don’t have the time to do the research and answer these questions thoroughly. This often means pitching uninterested journalists and overlooking great freelancers and bloggers. But don’t worry! The Meltwater media contacts module has built-in features that cut down the time it takes to do research, so that your pitch stands out to the right journalists.

Media Outreach | Journalist Research the Meltwater Way

To guide your journalist research efforts, I’ve organized these features into three research-focused steps. These steps are the key to answering the questions brought up in the media outreach process. They give context on the journalist and help ensure that journalists will read your pitch so that your media outreach stands out.

*Unless otherwise noted, all of the features below are located on a journalist’s contact card

  • Step 1. Read Recent Articles
    • Relevant Articles – Displays a clickable list of the journalist’s articles that are relevant to the topic you entered as a keyword search
    • Pitch Cloud – A clickable word cloud showing the topics of a journalist’s recent articles
    • All Articles – A clickable list of the journalist’s most recent articles
    • Follow – Sends you a regular email digest with new articles from selected journalists. Located next to each journalist entry in existing media lists.

 

A pitch cloud for a journalist who often writes about airlines.

 

  • Step 2. Tailor Your Pitch to the Journalist
    • Additional Information – Information often from the journalist directly. Can include pitch tips, schooling, awards, previous jobs and interests.
    • One-click LinkedIn Search
    • One-click Google Search

 

  • Step 3. Get Creative!
    • Twitter – Journalists’ Twitter handles are on their contact cards. Not only can you learn more about journalists from their feed, but reaching out via Twitter is a great way to stand out.

 

Those 4 to 1 odds make it crucial that your media outreach stands out. The three steps I’ve outlined are a guide that will give you the context you need to answer those important media outreach questions. Along with the directory beats search and the keyword search, these journalist research tools round out the media contacts module to give you the greatest possible chance of a successful pitch, increasing pick-up and helping to maintain solid media relations. My advice: follow the steps, use the features and start standing out!

Social Media Blogs I Love

As a social media marketer, I always try to stay up to date on all the latest and greatest social media news. As much as I’d like to be the first to know about Facebook’s latest algorithm updates, I am not among the privileged few and must often find this information from other sources – including various social media blogs.

These blogs are not only a great source of news, but they’re also a great way for me to gain insights, hear different opinions, and learn from the successes and failures of my peers. The social media blog community is so much fun to be a part of because we’re all learning as we go. Sure, we can apply traditional marketing strategies as a starting point, but social media is evolving so quickly that there’s always something new to learn.

Here are some of my favorite social media blogs and why I love them.

Social Media Examiner

Social Media Examiner is one of the better-known social media blogs out there, and for good reason. They post almost daily (not on Sundays) on a variety of social media topics. They also do a “This Week in Social Media” post each Saturday that covers all of the important updates for the week, just in case you missed anything (or can’t remember what happened last Monday!).

Ignite Social Media Blog

Ignite’s Social Media Blog also contains a fantastic variety of social media topics, but tends to be a little Facebook heavy (which I love because I spend a lot of time on Facebook!). I also really like the category for social media examples, because it’s fun to see the creative campaigns other companies are running – especially to learn from their successes and failures.

Social Media Today

Social Media Today not only has a large variety of content, but they also offer several viewpoints because all articles are written by the community of social media professionals. This gives them a different dynamic than the single-author blogs and vendor blogs because you can truly interact within a community, rather than the 1×1 engagement you usually find on other social media blogs. This also gives them a much higher posting frequency than other sites, so there’s always something good to read!

Social Media Explorer

Social Media Explorer is another one of the social media blogs out there that publishes content from several thought leaders and executives. It discusses the more general digital marketing and PR realms in addition to social media marketing and monitoring.

Eli Rose

Eli Rose publishes social media blog posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – with Friday’s being the “Weekly Curated Awesome” in which they pull their favorite social media stories from all around the web.

Jeff Bullas

Jeff Bullas writes on a variety of internet marketing topics, but has a very strong focus on social media. Many of his articles are real-life examples of his own successes and failures, and it’s fun to read about what’s worked for him in the past and what he might have done differently.

Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen covers the broader topic of content marketing, but I’d say around 50% of her articles are directly related to social media. I particularly love that many of her articles contain actionable insights, so I walk away from reading a blog post with something to implement immediately.

Meltwater’s Social Media Blog

Is this too self promotional? Eh, probably. But it really is one of my favorite social media blogs! I really enjoy the amazing content my colleagues put on this blog on a regular basis. Our goal is to provide both short-form articles with actionable tips, as well as longer-form articles that are more strategic and insightful. If you like what you see, please subscribe via RSS or email (look up and to your right)!

What are your favorite social media blogs?

6 Steps to Proving Your Worth: Social Marketing ROI

Are you or is someone in your organization suffering from social marketing ROI confusion? Understanding where social marketing touches customers on the happy path to conversion is the key to ending the blank stares and furrowed brows of senior management, who may not yet understand what this social media thing does for the company.

Quality can be hard to quantify

If you’ve ever had someone in your company say something like “What does social media marketing do for us, anyway?,” this is the article for you.  Really, if you’re in any marketing discipline that isn’t measured on an immediate sale and engenders questions like “Where is the ROI in [insert your area of expertise]?” and, consequently, leads to your budget being hit first when things are tight…

I have been one of those beleaguered folks looking for meaningful KPI’s to show senior management that things like The Twitter had a viable business purpose.  Those of us in “softer” social marketing disciplines (PR, brand, community, events, social media) have traditionally had a very difficult time quantifying our efforts to prove our worth, as it were, to higher-ups accustomed to the cut-and-dried metrics of direct marketing disciplines (SEM, direct mail, display).  Traditional PR and socially-driven program measurements like “ad value” and “impressions” are guesses that media outlets have applied to their real estate in order to provide numerical value to earned media, and these metrics can cause a raised eyebrow among C-level execs who want clear, quantifiable ROI.

Relationships aren’t best measured by a single interaction

Those softer metrics are fine for what they are, and “awareness” is actually a perfectly valid business goal: customers don’t usually give it up on the first date just because you winked at them.  But in the case of social marketing metrics, we have the technology to measure actual engagement.  First, though, we must differentiate between a direct marketing discipline and a relationship marketing discipline.  Direct marketing leads to single-sale conversion, and its metrics are very simple.  You send an email or post an ad with a prompt to buy, and a certain percentage of those people will buy.  The customer journey is clear, linear and trackable.

Now, established brands can use social media channels for quick, direct sales: Clif Bar, for example, once used Twitter to sell an overage of bars at a reduced price.  But one might be of the opinion that this effort was a direct marketing campaign that happened to be on a social channel rather than a social marketing initiative, and that’s another article (and it’s covered in our social channel strategy overview).  For the purposes of this article we’re going to talk about the fuzzier side of marketing, which is to say the relationship marketing discipline.  Social marketing is, at its core, about building relationships.

A typical sales funnel starts with awareness and ends in purchase, but an ideal customer journey ends in advocacy. Relationship marketing disciplines like social marketing typically touch the customer at the top and bottom of this funnel.

 

Advocacy can’t happen without awareness

No matter how you view your sales funnel, we can hopefully all agree that awareness is at the beginning and purchase is at the end, the latter of which ideally leads to the happily ever after of customer loyalty and advocacy.  Relationship marketing is a nurturing model that heartily embraces awareness as the beginning of the customer path to sale, and carries with it an understanding that most customers will need multiple touches, or impressions, before they buy something from you.  Put more pithily,

Relationship marketing disciplines are nurturing models that serve a multi-touch awareness effort.

Click to tweet

In exploring the difference between traditional monologue marketing and social dialogue marketing, we’ve discussed the importance of action-based social marketing metrics (read: a click).  These metrics are important not just because the ultimate goal of social is word-of-mouth marketing, but because this sort of measurement allows us to both follow a customer and set up a reporting process that will please the people wondering why they’re paying someone to fiddle around on Facebook.  With that in mind, setting up a workflow to make sure that every social marketing effort you undertake can tie to solid social media metrics looks about the same.  So, without further ado:

6 Steps to Having An Answer to “What Does Social Media Do for Us, Anyway?”

1. Make sure that your social marketing effort is servicing a larger business goal

As we discussed in our deep dive on social media campaign strategy, your social marketing needs to be crafted with a solid business goal in mind.  Once you know what you’re trying to accomplish, it’s a lot easier to measure it.  Don’t try to get more Twitter followers; look to engage social communities that make sense for your brand, and craft a Twitter campaign that leads to more followers as the cherry on your social sundae.

2. Use an action-based metric for your first round of social marketing tracking

In social media, this amounts to a click.  You’ve gotten their attention; now, what do you want to do with it?  Do you want them to share?  Click off to a landing page?  Actually purchase something?  Participate in a contest?  Figure out what sort of action works toward your business goal.

3. Route your happy clickers to some sort of lead capture form

Clicks are lovely, but Facebook and Twitter aren’t going to tell you who clicked what.  Facebook is more amenable to lead capture, as you can set up custom Facebook tabs and promotions (something Meltwater Connect, among others, allows).  For Twitter, you can set up an offsite landing page.  Whatever you set up, you’ll want some sort of a form field that encourages people to give you their information so that you can carry on wooing them toward a sale.  By and large, most people prefer to stay within the native app (i.e. they don’t like to leave Twitter or Facebook just because a Marketer wants them to), so you’re best off doing lead capture within the native app itself if possible.

4. Prompt your leads to the next step of engagement

Now that you got his number, it’s time to use it… wisely.  Yes, you should wait at least 3 days.  If you have an email nurturing queue set up to add teeth to your social marketing program, so much the better.  If you don’t, you might consider getting one set up.  It’s up to you to determine how engaged and interested your leads might be in your product.

5. Follow these leads through the funnel

Your leads may ultimately convert off an e-mail or a sales call, and it’s up to you as the Social Media Manager to make sure that multi-touch attribution is considered and counted toward your own social marketing KPI’s.  Most affiliate models credit the originator of a new lead with the sale; your company may have a last-touch model.  Whatever your revenue attribution model is, it’s important for everyone that might touch a customer to understand where that customer has been touched along the sales cycle.

6. Report up in a format that helps your boss understand what you’re doing in social marketing

Senior executives are busy, but they do like to know what’s going on in your social marketing world, especially when revenue is down.  You might not have to do a Power Point deck, but it never hurts.  (Well, the doing of those slides hurts those of us generally pained by such exercises, but they’re almost never a bad thing to have.)  Make your reporting consistent, both in format and in schedule.  Some things I’ve learned over the years are summarized for you, brave social marketing catalyst, in the somewhat crude but entirely heartfelt matrix below:

Executive Thumbs-Up Executive Thumbs-Down
Data visualization Vague explanations
Short bullet points Reading expository statements
Real numbers compared against KPI’s Made-up metrics without hard data
A traceable path to ROI ROI?  *Shrug*

 

Manage up and stay strong, fellow relationship marketers

At the end of the day, it’s important that your higher-ups understand that getting people to click on a Twitter link is easy, but unless you’re a known brand with lots of followers and you’re having a deadline-driven sale, chances are that your social marketing has more to do with awareness and nurturing relationships than closing the deal – and that’s as it should be.  Social marketing programs usually have an indirect but strategic connection to business goals, and proving your value doesn’t have to mean an immediate sale off a click.  However, you must understand and demonstrate how your social marketing encourages the prospective customer along the purchase funnel, and set up a flow that nurtures the customer relationship in a such a way to assure a sale, loyalty and – if you’re really lucky – advocacy on behalf of your brand.

 

 

 

Questionable Stock Photos: Neo Gets a Real Job

Being The One doesn’t come with benefits.

Being a digital marketer, I spend more time than most people in stock photo sites.  I now earmark some of the more questionable search results to see if we can come up with use cases that justify the energy it took to produce these creative wonders.  So, without further ado, on to this week’s gem in our Questionable Stock Photos series:

MARKETING USE CASES for NEO GETS A REAL JOB

1.  Our Acro-Yoga Typing Technique will get you to 120 words per minute while simultaneously strengthening your core and inner zen!

2.  This anti-gravity tie is really handy in the event that you regularly defy all laws of physics during business meetings.

3. Need better stock art?

Feel free to submit your own marketing scenarios via the blog comments.

If you’ve run across a questionable stock photo and would like us to think of marketing use cases, or would like to share your own, please tweet a link to the pic @meltwater with the hashtag #stockpic and we’ll be sure to give it a gander.  If its questionability isn’t in question, we’ll enthusiastically feature it here on the blog.

 

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