When was the last time you thought about what your blog actually does? A blog brings people together. It is a fine orchestration of people creating content (playing together to make music) and people reading content (enjoying the music from the audience).
And, that is not an easy thing to do. We are talking about a lot of adults here, which means a lot of opinions, needs, motives, hopes, and dreams. People-pleasing is a big part of blogging and the blog topics your team decides upon are a critical part of pleasing your audience. When a topic is off-base, or even if the timing of the blog release is all wrong, your blog is probably going to be a flop.
If you bring people together with different perspectives and skills when planning blog content, your chances of producing better content are much higher. It’s time to consider opening up the content creation process so you can play to your people’s strengths and please your audience.
Is your internal team aligned or unaligned?
Your blog is a machine that your content marketing team must constantly fuel with blog topics. It gets old, fast — especially when the same people are always the blog idea people. While trying to keep the creative energy and the editorial calendar flowing, your team understandably gets overwhelmed.
Blog topic discovery should never happen in silos, but it happens all the time. The thing is… there are many other people at your organization who have a wealth of knowledge to contribute to the company blog. And, many of them want to be blog contributors. Yet, for some reason, they are being left out of the blog content creation process.
The Slack State of Work Report is chock-full of interesting findings surrounding the difference between aligned and unaligned workers — and the substantial impact this workplace alignment has on the organization.
- When knowledge workers feel aligned: 90 percent know what success looks like, 86 percent understand their company’s strategy, and 75 percent feel empowered to make decisions.
- Aligned workers approach their work with optimism and have the big-picture insights necessary to take action.
- Because unaligned workers feel disconnected from strategic objectives, they are more likely to be pessimistic and operate in silos — and they are less likely to seize opportunities.
- What do the majority of knowledge workers want? They want to feel more aligned.
Alignment is one of those business jargon terms most of us are ready to excommunicate from the English language. Connection is perhaps a more palatable word, and one that reminds us of the human side of the business.
The company blog is a great platform for fostering this team connection. When teams collaborate together — and every individual feels clear about the strategy and their role within that strategy — there are plenty of obvious benefits. So, why don’t more people get involved in blog brainstorming and planning? Because they need to feel included in the content creation process.
Planning blog content with your unique people
The best blog content is created collaboratively. It relies on the brilliance of both like-minded and non-like-minded individuals. Outside of the content marketing team, there are team members with unique perspectives who make ideal blog contributors. They aren’t necessarily going to volunteer this knowledge — your content marketing team will need to go and get it.
Because these are not people who live and breathe content like your team does, you will need to meet them on their terms. The first thing to figure out is who these people are. Then, you can play to their strengths when planning blog content.
The creative people
- Know how to: elicit reactions
- Good for: providing blog topic ideas geared toward the human experience
Most of your organization’s creative people are on the content marketing team already. That doesn’t mean there aren’t creative people leading other areas of the business. Creative people are the observers and storytellers of the human experience. They bring out the humanness of your brand and they know how to elicit reactions.
These creative people might be skilled writers. Just because they can write doesn’t mean they have the time to write blog content all the time. But, creative people are very often brimming with ideas and happy to share them quickly and often. To involve your creative people, invite them to share blog topics through a form that you send out each quarter.
The data people
- Know how to: express results
- Good for: infusing data with blog ideas to tell compelling stories
Data people are numbers people, so they don’t have the right perspective for written content. Based on the popularity of original research and studies, along with the usual best practice of strengthening blog content with stats, this is a myth worth busting. Data people offer more substance, so content relies on factual data rather than opinions. They are analytical-minded thinkers who understand how to express results.
Probably not too keen on the idea of slaving over a blog post on their own, your data people are better suited to sharing compelling stats they come across or providing original data they’ve been secretly pulling together on the side. Also consider using a provocative stat you’ve found as a writing prompt to see what they think of it and to draw out blog topics.
The knowledge people
- Know how to: ensure relevancy
- Good for: keeping topics aligned with organizational and audience needs
Okay, most people are knowledge workers in the modern workforce. By “knowledge people,” we are talking about individuals who are the gatekeepers of company knowledge. These are your subject matter experts (SMEs) and those in people-facing roles. Knowledge people are unbeatable resources when it comes to blog topics. They know the ins and outs of products or services and the people your brand serves, so they are great for ensuring relevancy.
Being that knowledge people are some of your company’s best resources, their time is at a premium. That doesn’t mean “forget it,” it means your team needs to make their blogging involvement painless. To get blog ideas from knowledge workers, bring structure to the creative process. Instead of a blank slate, give parameters or even pitch ideas to see what they think.
Figuring out which blog topics to write about
Now that you understand how to involve these unique people in the blog planning process, how do you figure out which blog topics to write about? It’s a fine balance of creating content that supports company objectives and serves your audience.
Yet again, your content marketing team should not be trying to figure out the answers to the questions below on their own. They can lean on the aforementioned creative people, data people, and knowledge people for input and ideas.
What are the focus areas?
Focus areas should be looked at quarterly as you are figuring out blog topics. These are areas of the business that the blog should support. Maybe a new product feature needs awareness, so your team creates a video blog. Or, a program is going well and you want to keep the momentum going. Focus areas are closely tied to business needs, so these blog topics help drive interest while, of course, educating and helping your audience.
What are the themes?
Themes relate back to cultural initiatives already happening in the organization. A theme might be “collaboration” and all blog topics will align with that theme. Sometimes themes can be found in important meetings, like a SKO (sales kick-off) where the theme from that annual meeting is “focus.” Great themes are all around us, so again, it helps to unearth current initiatives in other departments or at the organizational level.
Where are the gaps?
When we think of filling gaps with blog content, we think content audits. Content audits are a tried-and-true way of identifying gaps and coming up with blog topics that cover any personas, buyer stages, or areas of the business you’ve been forgetting. But, also work with your non-marketers to understand where they feel there are gaps with blog content.
- Does sales wish there were more blogs about X that they could share with prospects?
- Did your competitor cover a relevant blog topic that you’re missing out on?
- Does customer success repeat explanations by email that would make great blog topics?
Where are the star performers?
Data is always there to ground us in a seemingly infinite sea of blog topic ideas. You have star performers on your blog that are killing it with traffic and/or search rankings… keep doing that. Rather than always cooking up new blog topics, your team expands upon the high-performers — covering different angles, taking deeper dives, and interlinking for SEO brownie points.
Coming up with blog topics should take a fair amount of discovery time and it shouldn’t happen in silos. Plan your blog content by including others. By joining forces, individuals at your organization will feel more aligned, heard, and empowered. This greater team connection will show up on the company blog as well, building that same feeling of connectivity with your audience.