How to Write Great Content – Part 1 of 2
At the heart of everyone’s advice for creating a strong blog or other form of social media is to write great content. This may leave many prospective and/or new bloggers scratching their heads, or worse immobilized with bad memories of a blank composition page back in elementary school.
First, let’s define what marketers mean by great content. Great content reaches off the page and pulls the reader in without giving him time to think about moving on. A strong voice is integral to creating consistently powerful writing.
For many, the concept of voice is difficult to embrace and put into plain prose. To that end, here are seven characteristics to help you form your unique blogger’s voice.
- Has personality. For social media related information, this often translates to being written by a real person who has real life experiences that are integrated into the writing. (Check out my post on shopping bags and my grandmother.)
- Tells a story. Telling stories to each other is what makes us human. They help us understand the forces at work in our lives. Stories have a beginning, middle and end. (For more insights, please see 5 reasons marketing needs storytelling.)
- Is contextually relevant. As Brian Solis said at DMA 2010, “Context is King.” This means that your writing must relate to the social conversation both online and offline as well as the content around it in order for people to remember it and draw meaning from it.
- Listens and interacts. Don’t be the bore at the party who talks endlessly about themselves and then asks “What do you think about me?” Your writing needs to engage your audience as you would in a real life conversation. If you think that you’re being boring, so will your readers!
- Sounds like a real person. While your third grade teacher might read this in horror, it means to write so that it sounds like a person would have said it. If you find this difficult, try recording and transcribing what you want to say. Alternatively, take a page from bloggers like Chris Brogan and Christopher Penn who occasionally do videos instead of committing their words to electronic paper. For another example, read Tony Hsieh’s book Delivering Happiness, which makes readers feel like Tony’s speaking directly to them.
- Has a point of view. Think of current news programs or The Colbert Report. These purveyors of information have a distinct agenda. This doesn’t mean that your blog should just be another conduit for pushing your product and/or services. Being self-involved doesn’t work in social media!
- Avoids sanitized corporate-speak. This is particularly important for corporate blogs and other forms of social media that must be approved by senior members of your organization and/or legal department. Corporate-speak refers to writing that reads like it was composed by a machine.
If you’re still having trouble, sit down and develop your blogging persona like you would a product you were marketing. (Remember, you’re marketing your blog or other form of social media!) Here are some exercises that help marketers define their brand because, at its core, this is what you’re doing. While they may sound silly, the point is to get you out of your head and develop your writing voice indirectly.
- If your blog was a car, what would it be and why?
- If your blog was an animal, what would it be and why?
- If your blog was a famous person, who would it be and why?
- If your blog was a food, what would it be and why?
- If your blog was a movie or television show, what would it be and why?
I hope that this gives you enough material to begin developing your blogging voice. If you have suggestions to help other readers, please add them to the comments section.
Please continue reading Part 2 of How to Create Great Content, 12 Suggestions to Overcome Blank Blog Post Syndrome.
Special tip of my hat to CK Burgess for her suggestion to use the material from last night’s #BlogChat for a blog post and to Mack Collier and the merry band of participants on #BlogChat for inspiring me to add to the conversation.
Photo credit: 2KoP via Flickr