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Smarter Ways to Get Content Ideas for B2B Blogs

Posted on Jul 6th, 2010
Written by Lee Odden
In this article

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    TopRank Marketing drives results with content, influencer, SEO & social media marketing.

    One of the most common challenges of business blogging is sourcing content. The range of things that can interrupt content creation are important obstacles to overcome because without content there is little reason for readers to return.  Blogs are fairly easy to start and if you’ve been a reader of this blog, chances are pretty good that you have started your own blog (personal or for biz) at some point in time.

    Many of the companies TopRank Marketing consults with have either started business blogs and need help or want to start a new blog to advance a variety of business goals. In fact, in our blogging survey earlier this year, 95% of respondents indicated they incorporate blogs as part of their search engine optimization efforts. Many others use blogs for public relations, customer service, product support and recruiting.

    Whatever the reason for starting a blog, long time content creation with B2B blogs requires creativity, social participation and a smart feedback loop. Here are a few specific ways to generate content ideas for business to business blogs:

    Editorial Calendar Smart B2B bloggers treat their blogging effort as an editorial endeavor. Publishers of newspapers, magazines and other news media operate, in part, based on a calendar of topics. For business bloggers, this means creating scheduled blog posts according to topics that support the intersection of customer interests and the value the company can provide to those customers.  If a company sells red widgets then the editorial calendar will schedule blog content around the needs of customers that buy red widgets.  For example:

    • Widget reviews
    • Tips on buying widgets
    • 100 uses of widgets
    • Widget industry news
    • Interviews with authorities on widgets
    • Liveblogging widget conferences, webinars, podcasts
    • Lists of widget facts, statistics and resources
    • Archived widget Twitter chats
    • Widget book reviews
    • Weekly widget Q/A
    • Widget surveys
    • Widget industry event calendar
    • And so on

    The editorial calendar can schedule ongoing post formats as well, such as Widget Reviews on Tuesdays and Widget Tips on Thursdays so that content can be created in advance and scheduled to post. This allows a other days for spontaneous, reactive and on-demand content outlined in the next few tips.

    Search Marketing Keywords – As a blog develops a body of work published to the web and the business incorporates a mix of marketing and PR tactics to drive traffic to the blog, the web analytics in place to measure visitor activity will reveal many useful content opportunities.  The low hanging fruit here is referring keywords. Whether the blog is optimized for a set number of keywords or not, any kind of crawlable content that has quality links to it will achieve some level of visibility within search engines. Watching the keywords that send traffic to a business blog can be insightful and help inform what customers are interested in. Keyword referring information can be analyzed across different time intervals, entry/exit pages, goal pages and conversions to determine weighting of importance and potential impact on blog goals.

    Social Media Keywords – I’ve been promoting the idea of social media keyword research for over a year at conferences, in my presentations and in various blog posts. Monitoring real-time news for editorial opportunity is something public relations professionals have been doing for years. With search engines’ improved ability to crawl, index or syndicate and then publish real time streams of information from the social web, there exist numerous opportunities to monitor and tap into content ideas.

    In the way that media placements and prominent advertising drive search traffic, so do social conversations. Monitoring trending keyword topics from social participation such as blogging, comments, Q/A sites, tags, Tweets, status updates and similar sources can reveal opportunities to create content on a BtoB blog. If customers are talking about a particular topic that intersects well with your company’s products/services on social media sites with increasing frequency, then it makes sense to leverage a blog to publish and syndicate via RSS what they’re looking for.

    Offer contrarian views, concrete research or more compelling points of view and you can capture readers that are researching.  Social media monitoring tools are the most likely way to capture what social keywords are trending, but I have yet to find a service that does this well and none that interact with search keyword research tools. At least not yet.

    Repurpose Content – The social web for the most part, has a short memory.  That does not mean you should re-publish content from 2 years ago in a “Blast from the Past” format. But it does mean that you can revisit topics that were previously well received to update them for today’s business environment or simply to update information. We’ve covered re-purposing content a number of times and here are a few specific tips:

    • Turn Powerpoint decks into articles/blog posts
    • Use email interview Q/A with journalists that didn’t get published
    • Break up a long article you’ve had published into a series
    • Rewrite press releases in a conversational or blog post format
    • Aggregate specific tips on a topic from numerous old posts

    Exposing Your Thought Leaders – Doing interviews with industry thought leaders is a great way to create interesting content and tap into their audiences f0r exposure.  What’s also important is to connect with and interview internal thought leaders, whether they are business leaders that the PR department is pitching to the media or product managers and engineers. Interviews with these busy people can be done via phone and then transcribed into text. This makes it easy for the interviewee and also provides both audio and text versions of content. Questions can be keyword optimized and responses can inter-link using anchor text to support your SEO efforts.

    Bonus! Content Curation – A fast emerging area of content marketing, especially in the B2B space is the notion of content curation. We interviewed 10 content marketing industry thought leaders on this topic recently that give insightful definitions as well as where curation and creation fit within an online marketing mix.  Syndicating content from other topical sources into a central location can help companies create a destination of value to readers where they can go to get industry news.  Some software systems can manage all of this or you can construct this type of site using RSS and RSS to HTML tools like CaRP.

    What creative ways have you found to keep the content creation machine alive with your business blog? Have you found success in repurposing content or sourcing ideas from keyword referring data? Have you tried real-time content sourcing through social keyword monitoring?