How do You Use Content to Stand Out?


TwitterChat

There are many questions associated with content production, much of which is a constant source of consternation and a resource monger for businesses small and large.

By far the biggest open question organizations have is: How do I stand out online?

Standing out is easier when you know who you are looking to attract. Because then you can tailor your content to their specific needs.

Three areas of inquiry

How do you get your industry to pay attention to you? How can you get published in certain journals? How do you establish yourself as a subject matter expert?

How do you keep the ideas flowing? How do you prevent writer's block? Burnout? Do you think that some people just don't have writer's block? And some get it often?

How do you post more often? Should you post to fit a schedule or only when you feel like it?

These were some of the questions I had the chance to see during a rapid-fire session as co-host of #blogchat on Twitter this past Sunday.

Here's the transcript of the chat, if you missed it.

Ideas

If you don't have the time to comb through the transcript, here's what I addressed:

On process

I started by writing down a loose set of themes, one for each day of the week. Some themes are also categories: media, customer conversations, Technology, trends.

Business and strategy are part of point of view. All themes are connected by my philosophy on business.

Sundays are about media and news and I do two posts, an early one usually about industry, a later one about my own products, supporters, etc.

Mondays I tend to write about customer conversation, Tuesday about content, Wednesday I do book reviews or tech reviews or interviews (see conversations), Thursday used to be influence, now is broader business, Friday is about connections, and Saturdays is a new series on business and technology trends.

Readers may and or may not care, although if you stick around you figure it out.

It does help build a nice body of content on each theme. You will see the landing pages here as well.

This allows me to filter my own content for when I'm getting ready to re-imagine it for products, presentations, and build on it for client work.

Connectdots

Topics vary: from news, to research studies, personal stories, interviews, reviews, media.

For those of you who are in charge of an organization's content production, you will want to think about overcoming three crucial challenges with content strategy.

Other useful resources on content strategy are this interview with Kristina Halvorson, CEO Brain Traffic, and at least these two books on content strategy.

You can see how easy it is for me to use my content archives fully by having a framework and process in place.

Having a schedule

Workout
While many express the desire to blog or write more often, it really depends on what you're trying to accomplish and what gets you there.

The one issue you encounter with blogging when the spirit moves you rather than feeling like you have to meet a schedule is that it won't work if you're using your blog to generate business.

Or if you look to establish yourself or broaden your reach as expert.

On the other hand, there are professionals who are quite successful without a Web presence of any kind. They conduct good trade, deliver on their promises, and get excellent word of mouth referrals.

On research

SheilaS
I used to make a lot of notes about what to write, now I mostly use memory and tools.

Apps and tools for content sweeps I use are Zite, Flipboard, Google Currents, Feedly, NPR, Instapaper, Longreads, Longform, and several topical newsletters.

Apps
For content discovery, I use mainly Equentia and Percolate, and I do a lot of listening on all social networks. I still use Google Reader, and I am ever rigorous in choosing sites with strong content.

I use keyword searches on Twitter, Google Alerts, and G+ topical circles. I also receive a few notes from research companies and analysts, and courtesy copies of books (Kindle/digital preferred).

Content ideas
Then I do some actual manual reading and send the best articles to my email account to link to in posts when I'm ready to write.

To save notes, most people use a combination of Smartphone notepad, Evernote, Diigo, draft posts, and emails to themselves.

File

Several also go analog like me and jot down mind maps or post outlines with pen and paper.

On writing

SEO
There were two main camps among participants: people who felt they should write only when they have something to say; and those who felt they had let their blog or site go and wanted to become more active again.

Often, I find that once I start writing, I have plenty to say — discipline and drill help get it out.

A few former journalists agreed that having deadlines and assignments helped them produce a steady stream of content.

There's this misconception that quality and quantity are antithetical to each other. To me blogging is about exploration. If you feel you have enough to get your story out, then do it.

The point is to set aside the time to actually do it.

Appointment
Post length suggestions are also academic as it really depends on the topic and the kind of readership you are looking to attract.

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In business, you prevent burnout by turning pro. You sit down, and do the work. Then you learn, refine, and build on your work.

I grabbed some screen shots from people who stood out because of the content they shared during the chat. Participation and preparation are one way to stand out in social networks.

Chatsnapshot

Thanks go to Mack Collier for inviting me to co-host, and to all 347 contributors.

 

[screenshots of tweets and stats from Hashtracking]

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