As an expert in your field, you have answers for your blog readers. Lots of them.
But do know the right questions?
Business bloggers often get too close to their expertise and passion—eventually losing touch with what readers really want to know.
Many of us find ourselves going off on blogging tangents and traveling down roads relevant to our peers, but not necessarily to our subscribers and customers. Those tangents are okay (even essential), so long as they’re also mixed with content that counts towards meeting our readers’ needs.
So how do you uncover the questions that matter most?
Find Questions Close to Home
- Ask – Yes, this seems obvious. Identify people who reflect your ideal subscriber or reader. Ask them, outright, what they’d like to hear more about. Email them, IM them. Hit `em up on Facebook or Twitter. Keep it casual. Chances are they’ll be flattered you asked!
- Meet – Social networking has opened up relationships that still amaze me. However, sometimes nothing beats face-to-face networking—whether it be trade shows, local associations or professional groups. Assuming you’re rubbing elbows with your ideal subscribers or customers, pay close attention to those in-person discussions. I continuously find that the information I feel is most basic or trivial is of major interest at networking events. Go figure!
- Remember – Your email is a treasure trove of information. Take a look at the past week. Did you help contacts or clients with an issue? Did you answer a question or send them a list of online resources? Chances are others have the same question.
Seek Questions Far and Wide
Ready to get in touch with questions outside your immediate inner circle? Start practicing the golden rule of social networking—listen! Go seek out conversations that you didn’t initiate and see what potential readers are asking about. First, make a list of keyword phrases related to your area of expertise or related to a topic you have in mind. Then, start searching, seeking and taking notes! If you’re a seasoned networker, you’ll be tempted to answer the questions right on the spot. Instead, make a note of where you got the idea and return after you can share a link to your awesome new content!
- Google Blog Search – Comments left on others’ blogs are a terrific source of discussions and inquiries. Check out Google Blog Search, enter your keywords and see what’s buzzing!
- LinkedIn Answers – For professional service providers, specialists, consultants and speakers—LinkedIn is superb for marketing your blog. But, the network is also a goldmine for finding questions and discussions related to your industry. Used to be that joining group discussions was the only way to find questions. Today, the LinkedIn Answers area provides a sea of questions just waiting for your seasoned answers! Jot down the questions that require expanded answers and get blogging!
- Twitter – Twitter can be like drinking from a firehose but, if your audience is there, listen up! Search sites like CrowdEye, OneRiot and Twitter Search are great places to see what’s buzzing in your field. For more ideas, check out Josh Peters’ 50 Ways to Search Twitter.
- Facebook – You may have a Fan Page, but are you participating on others? Go find pages similar to yours or, better yet, some that complement yours. You may find some questions that spark an idea.
- Q&A Sites – Broad as they are, Yedda and Yahoo Answers are great sources for finding questions from anyone and everyone on the web.
- Cross Network Search Engines – One way to test out whether a topic you have in mind is in demand is to search blogs, microblogs and Q&A sites simultaneously. Sites like WhosTalkin and Social Mention help streamline searches. Remember, these services don’t cover Facebook and Linkedin too well, so don’t be tempted to eliminate the other “listening” methods above.
You have the answers. Now go find the questions!
So, naturally at the end of this post…
What are some burning questions about blogging, content and social media that you’d love for someone (okay…me) to answer?