Tag Archive for creating content

The 4 Pillars of Blogging: How To Create Excellent Online Content

Blogging is something we are all familiar with; these online discussion sites surround us, as they are used by most people, companies, and different organizations that touch our daily lives. Yet, blogs are also something a little unknown to us, maybe even a little mysterious. Blogging has become habitual to certain professions like community managers, professionals who try to establish communities and discussions around a company, brand, product or service.

So, you may be asking, why am I writing a blog post about blogging? Hey, see what I did there?

Well, because there’s an actual science to creating an excellent blog, a system that community managers follow very closely, in order to retain and attract more active members to their communities. And I don’t know about you, but if I were to start a blog right now, I’m not really sure if I would have the confidence to do so. Therefore, in this article by ProBlogger, the 4 Pillars are laid out to show you how to obtain the essence of blogging, one of the many tasks required of community managers today. And why am I here? Well, I’m going to explain these 4 Pillars to you, so we all can learn something new along the way.

The Four Pillars 

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Tiziani, Eliza. “4 Pillars”. 02 June 2011. Online Image. Flickr. 31 January 2014.

1.) BE USEFUL

There is nothing worse than reading something you think would be relevant to you, but actually provides nothing useful. In order to have a successful blog, you as the writer must provide your audience with information that will be practical in their daily lives.

2.) WRITE GREAT HEADLINES

It’s as simple as this, great headlines attract readers for the things they’re looking for. My example for this post, The 4 Pillars of Blogging: How to Create Excellent Online Content; I came up with this title because it included the phrase “How To.” People are always searching for how to do certain things, therefore this post would have a high probability of catching a reader’s eye. Also, I used numbers; lists are always something that attract readers because it lays out the content in a more organized fashion.

Great headlines improve your blog’s Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, which is basically a fancy term for getting your blog noticed more by search engines. This way, people are more likely to come across your blog post when searching for specific information, and certain phrases allow this to happen. Other phrases to use in headlines include:

  • The Basics of ____
  • ____: What it is and How to Use It
  • __ Steps to Become an Incredible Blogger

3.) MAKE YOUR POST SCANNABLE

In your blog posts, you don’t want paragraphs upon paragraphs of text. Why not? To put it bluntly, nobody is going to read it. People want to be able to open a blog post and scan it for the most pertinent information to them. So, how does one accomplish scannability? In a few different ways:

  • Lists- Like the Four Pillars list that is currently in numbered order
  • Bullets- Like these ones you are currently reading
  • Bolded Items- Like the bolded listed items throughout this post

All these different methods allow for readers to pick out key pieces of information, without having to dig through paragraphs of text. Ultimately, readers are going to really appreciate this and come back to your posts for more incite in the future.

4.) WRITE IN A PLAIN, CONCISE, COMMON-SENSE STYLE

People read blogs for a reason, because of their style. They’re not textbooks or difficult to read manuals, but are articles written like the way we normally talk. Blogs are an opportunity to write in a manner that we normally don’t get the chance to outside the academic or business realms. So, just write how you talk and people will most definitely understand your key points and be wanting to hear more of your voice.

Blogs also allow you to BE YOURSELF. You have a unique voice, so show it!

So, to recap, in order to start a blog with great content just follow the 4 Pillars and you’ll be on your way to blogging success!

Creating and Curating Content with Ally Greer and Sean Keeley

CMGRclass had the opportunity to hang out (okay, Google+ Hangout) with Ally Greer, community manager at Scoop.it, and Sean Keeley, creator and blogger at Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician.

Ally and Sean were a great choice for this stage of our class. We’ve covered community management through the lens of SEO, engagement, blogging, and user generated content (UGC) – great topics for them to cover.

Throughout the hangout, the biggest similarity between Ally and Sean’s job is the way they rely on content created by people other than themselves.

Using UGC is a common practice, and Ally and Sean use the idea in different but effective ways. Ally’s brand relies on UGC, and the interactive nature of Sean’s community breeds strong opinions – it’s clear they’ve easily determined that UGC is right for them.

"You can give context and meaning to further engage your audience." - Ally Greer

Scoop.it’s entire platform is built around the idea that people can find what interests them, add their insights, and publish. The nature of scoop.it is user-driven, and new content is created every day by users. Day to day, Ally combs through the content and looks for the best posts and writers.

Ally also strongly focuses on creating lean content, or, content that makes a big impact with few resources. Like Ally said during our hangout: creating content takes a lot of time. Lean content means Ally can repurpose content and help her users learn from Scoop.it content better and faster.

Meanwhile, Sean uses similar tactics in a different strategy. Sean writes for his blog because he loves to, but he still wants to curate additional content. In order to do so, he’s created a fan section of his blog where fans can write and publish their own content.

"Most people are writing because it's something fun to do." - Sean Keeley

Although Sean doesn’t run a platform like Scoop.it, he’s created a section of his blog where readers can contribute. Through this fanpost section, he’s able to find good writers that match the style of his blog. In some cases, fan blogs will be posted to the main blog, and in rare cases, consistently good fan contributors can become regular main blog contributors.

Both Ally and Sean create content, but in order to better use their time and take advantage of quality writers, they had to become skilled content curators as well.

In the CMGRclass G+ community, we’ve debated the best ways to do UGC. Some communities have depended on or currently depend on UGC with varying degrees of success – like Bleacher Report or Reddit. I’ve seen UGC increasingly become a part of other blogs – the Gawker Media blogs use Kinja to generate and help curate content from users.

It seems as though the successful blogs that use UGC are one of three things:

  1. The blog is the platform, and the best rise to the top (like Scoop.it or Reddit)
  2. The blog is fully integrated with a platform, and content is curated (like Gawker network blogs and Kinja)
  3. Provide an alternate platform for people to use, and content is curated (like TNIAAM)

Do you agree with these categories? Whether you do or not – are these methods really the best ways to curate UGC?

Building Community with Content

Wednesday’s #CMGRchat was about using content to build a community. I found this chat particularly helpful and the questions that Jenn and Kelly asked to the participants insightful. Here are some highlights:

Question 1: What’s your primary content type? Trust Building, Educational, User-Generated, Conversational, or Filtered? – Why?

cmgrchat a1For my community, most of my content is about events or news about our community/community members, so most of my content is educational/informative. But the answers to question 1 were diverse.

Many participants say that they prefer user-generated content and that they try to post things that are conversational. However, user-generated content comes with time, your community needs to grow and mature before you can have this type of content. Some community managers also agreed that it is good to have a combination of different content types to keep things fresh and interesting.

Question 2: What are some integral components of a content strategy?

The following is a list of the most talked about integral components of a content strategy:

  • Creating a content calendar
  • Knowing your community
  • Following the values of your brand
  • Keeping in line with the goals of your community
  • Listening to your community and the feedback they give
  • Using the proper platforms to help you post, track, and analyze
  • Consistency in curation and moderation
  • Clear business goals
  • Planning ahead

Question 3: In what ways do current community members contribute to your owned content? (Blogs, Newsletters, web pages, etc.)?

Currently, my community members don’t actually write newsletters, emails, blogs, help with our web pages, or anything like that. However, they contribute by letting us know what they are up to, by sending us links to shows, projects or informing us of other things they are participating in. Since I help manage a community for Syracuse University graduates, it is really helpful when our alumni notify us and keep us informed– they are our eyes and ears.

cmgrchat A3

Many partipants in #CMGRchat had more experience with community members contributing to their content. Their advice included:

  • Being open to guest bloggers/posters
  • Making sure your community members know they are valued
  • Encouraging community members to comment and give feedback
  • Encouraging community members to ask questions
  • Highlighting community members/showcasing talented community members
  • Making sure that it is a mutually beneficial relationship between the community and its members

Question 4: What companies make tools that have community building in mind? What do you use?

Tools that #CMGRchat participants listed as helpful included:

  • Email*
  • Twitter*
  • Google+*
  • Hootsuite*
  • Sprout Social
  • Crowd Booster
  • Storify*
  • StumbleUpon
  • Skype
  • OneTab
  • Marketo
  • Sales Force
  • Buddy Media
  • Radian6
  • Blogging sites such as Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress*

(* denotes tools that I also use/find helpful)

cmgrchat 1Question 5: How often do you evaluate an owned/onsite content strategy? And what does evaluation look like?

This was a pretty loaded question, and for most in the chat, they said it would vary depending on the type of community you are managing. It was also a common answer that you can never do enough evaluating since your community is probably constantly changing and growing.

Participants suggested:

  • Weekly and/or monthly reports such as key performance indicator reports
  • Evaluate and adjust based on feedback and user engagement
  • Listen to your community
  • Follow trends

*     *     *

It was amazing how much I learned in just 60 minutes. This chat could have gone on for hours since there is so much to talk about when it comes to managing an online community and developing content. I’m looking forward to participating in even more #CMGRchats in the future.