Bring Your Brand to Life

Through the Power of Story

Ten Sources for Stories

If your online content is not updated consistently, your readers, and more importantly, the google search engines, will begin to loose interest. An outdated website, Facebook page or twitter profile can give prospective customers the idea that your company isn’t current either.

This might be true.

The very act of creating content helps you become a stronger company, by improves your customer service and keeps you current with changing market preferences. . The process of gathering content for your blog naturally connects you to your customers; your products; and helps you see if your product is evolving with your customers. hen you stay close to your customers to hear what they’re saying. 

Sometimes, I’ve found, that clients think they have nothing new under the sun to share. This, is where you’re wrong. The next time you get stuck, mine this list of ideas for sources of great stories to feed your online presence.

  1. Your customers. Ask them questions. What’s your biggest challenge? What’s your business goal for the year? What’s a strategy you’re using to grow your business… or if it’s a consumer — what’s a strategy you’re using to keep down costs? See how this can naturally make you a stand-out customer? This is a great way to incorporate video into your oline presence.
  2. Industry Thinkers. Find someone interesting, and Q&A them to point out new trends and insights. Don’t forget people in your own company. Showcase your company. This is also a great time to use video.
  3. Customer Service: This topic could spin itself into a periodic regular feature. “Questions from our customers.” What is the biggest reason customers contact you? There must be a trend, and you should know what it is, anyway. Is it being solved efficiently? If the customer has a blog, make sure you link to that too.
  4. Analyze Keyword Searches: This is an interesting way to find out who is reading your site, and why. Google analytics tracking software to show you the top search trends. While the words can tell you what problems  would-be customers are looking for, you can build content around those queries. Show the customer you’re here to solve their problems.
  5. What is the Social Media Saying? What are your customers, and prospective customers talking about? Luckily, you are spared from tedious, espensive surveys, because the information is already out there. Monitor social conversations via trending keyword topics on Twitter, on blogs (via google alerts.) (Learn how to listen to your customers, here.) If people are actively engaged in a dialogue about a topic related to your business, offer them the content they’re looking for. Offer an opposing view, or solve the problem.
  6. Research Your Competition. You can do this online with a tool like Google AdWords Keyword Tool, Google Predictive Search, or LinkedIn Answers.  Setting the parameters in the search string will help you see what people are searching for that relate to your product. If you’re selling shoestrings… how many people are searching for fluorescent shoestrings? How many are looking for fobs to add to their shoestrings? The answers you find can lead to a mountain of content material, that your customers will be interested in.
  7. What’s Going On In the Industry? This one demands timeliness. Give your opinion about today’s news within 24 hours of its release. You could be first. Make sure to link the original content (it’s online somewhere) increasing the chances that the follow-up story will link back to you.
  8. Passionate Tie-Ins. Readers love to read stories that parallel two non-related topics. What your hobby? Are you a skydiver? A golfer? Surely, you’ve had  moments of ephiphany when “the whole wold came together” while you were engrossed in your hobby — those moments when time stood still. What did you learn that you can share? How does it parallel what you’re trying to do for your customers?
  9. Get Behind the Scenes. Post photos that show an indsider’s view of your company. This is great if you have a manufacturing plant. Show the the raw products, a video of your product line from start to finish.
  10. Customer Photos: Encourage your customers to share photos of how they are using your product in their lives. Offer a give-away or contest, and ask them to write a story about how your product solved their problem.
  11. Event Reporter: Tradeshows, conferences and industry events are great sources for content. Share your impressions, session notes via real-time blogging and tweets. Follow-up the event with in-depth insights  on whom you met, what you learned, and what surprised you.
  12. How-To: From virtual, “How to Create an Online Webinar” to practical, “How to defrost the Drain Plug On Your Refrigerator.” Your product solves a problem. Show readers how it’s done. This is a great place to offer troube-shooting techniques, in an easy how-to format.
  13. Your Best Habits: What productivity secrets can you pass onto your readers? What online applications do you love? Have you figured out an ingenous way to use an application to solve an entirely different problem? Share it.
  14. Your Archives: Do you have a story that needs revsiting? Or updated?
  15. Guest Posts: Be creative, and find someone prominent — a blogger, a community leader, someone you geninuely admire.
  16. What are Your Competitors Posting? Surely, you are tracking them via Google Reader and Google Alerts. Is there anything they’ve left unsaid? Would you like to compliment them on something “well said,” or “well-done?”  Link to them, and let your readers know you’re a genuine human being.
  17. Virtual News Source: Designate a spot on your webpage that links to your must-read sources into a central location. You can use RSS feeds to showcase headlines, and excerpts from the stories your’re reading today. Don’t forget — sources that write about your passions can be listed here too.

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