Are You Making any of These 6 Blog Content Mistakes?

I get asked by a lot of companies as well as bloggers as to ideas on what they should be blogging about.  My golden rule, as a tool of Inbound Marketing, is to try to blog about topics that my potential clients might be interested in.  As you know, I believe a blog should be an essential component of any social media strategy.  Now, since I provide consulting and coaching services to companies as well as sell books to individuals, my target audience is pretty broad.  However, I always try to blog to showcase my expertise as well as attract a loyal following by providing resourceful, and hopefully insightful, advice.

I don’t think any of this is earth-shattering information, nor am I alone in this pursuit.  However, I see a lot of bloggers, and sometimes even companies, pumping out content that make me scratch my head as to what their objective is.  Perhaps it is an issue, brought up in an earlier blog post about asking bloggers to stop blogging and start thinking, of writing skills and/or style.  Blogging is an investment of time, and just like everything else in life (and especially in social media), it can become a time suck with no ROI.  While every blogger will have a unique audience as well as objective, if you are not getting the volume of website visits or amount of retweets that you would like, ask yourself if you are making 1 of these 6 blog content mistakes:

  • Personal Issues – If you are trying to blog about your persona and want to share your life with your readers in hopes that it creates a bond which leads to a friendship, great.  But if not, ask yourself what the objective is of sharing your personal life with the world.
  • Tools That Only Affect a Small Number of People – A lot of people are blogging about Triberr these days, but considering that it is a tool only used by a small number of bloggers, those that don’t blog might not be interested. Once again, think about your target market.
  • Irrelevant Interviews – Hey, I know that as a blogger, it requires time, creativity, and a lot of drive to pump out consistently high quality content.  Having guest blog posts and interviewing others is a great way to give yourself a mental break in crowdsourcing content. But the person and or content that you provide in the interview MUST be aligned with your content strategy. If not, it doesn’t serve any purpose and merely dilutes your branding.
  • Rebroadcasting the News – This is my pet peeve. Don’t try to imitate Mashable, TechCrunch, or any of the other major players because you can’t. If Facebook releases a new interface, don’t feel compelled to blog about it unless you are adding some significant value.  What can I get from your blog post that I can’t find elsewhere?  Same goes with products that YOU might think are cool, but is it relevant to THEM, your target audience?
  • Sharing a Video – Congratulations! You just uploaded a great video on YouTube. Don’t just share it in your blog – frame it. Add some value to it by providing some background information or going into more depth about the subject. If you don’t include at least 300 words of text, Google probably won’t consider it resourceful content for SEO anyway….
  • A Trite Reflection and Then Asking for a Comment – I get it when you ask questions at the end of blog posts in order to gather engagement. But if you’re going to ask a question, at least give the reader some content! Now, Seth Godin is someone who can pack a LOT of punch into a small blog post. Unless you can do the same, don’t offer just trite reflections followed by a “What do you think?”  It’s your blog, not Facebook! The less resourceful of content that you provide to your target audience, the more they will tune you out.

This is my idea on how I see blogging – what’s your take on the mistakes that bloggers make?  Or do you completely disagree with me?  Come on – speak up!

Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professionals strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

@nealschaffer

Author, @MaxYourSocial | Founder @msocialbusiness | Trilingual Social Media Strategy Consultant, Coach, and Speaker | 日米ソーシャルメディア専門家|G+: https://t.co/BqaJvubiP8
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Comments

  1. says

    Since I disagree with almost everything you have written here, I assume you are defining guidelines for a strictly “corporate” blog.  But, if you are addressing all bloggers, I have something to say….

    I have been seriously blogging for almost four years, and I almost always include a personal story.  Human interest stories are what people like – it is why network news programs put the human interest stories at the end – to keep viewers watching. They are what make people real – why would anyone be interested at all if you write like a robot.  People read human interest items and say, “Wow, that could happen to me” or “That has happened to me and I get it…” example: http://www.blogging4jobs.com/business/finding-a-bit-of-yourself-in-the-eyes-lives-of-others or http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2011/09/30/my-plan-for-going-forward/
    Both of these writers get hundreds of thousands of readers every month. People LIKE reading about personal issues. 

    ~Tools that only affect a small number of people?  Perhaps you are  niche writer or have a niche profession – makes complete sense to write about a tool like http://verbalsummary.com/ or http://vizibility.com/…

     

    ~Who is irrelevant?  Everyone is relevant.  Everyone.  Everyone has a story and there may or may not be benefit in sharing it.  Again, it depends on niche.  One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.  http://www.recruitingblogs.com/forum/topics/open-season

    ~Many people read blogs to filter the news, to decide what news affects their lives or careers.  If someone they read or follow or admire write as about a particular software release or upgrade,t hen maybe it is worthy for them to check it out for themselves.  Referring back to Vizibility: http://www.dailyhrsolutions.com/?p=159

    ~Sharing a video?  Seriously?  Youtube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world… If that’s all you post, perhaps that video serves incredible relevance to your audience… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SuNx0UrnEo

    ~And a trite reflection?  isn’t that what you did at the end of this VERY post?  Blogging is about asking questions, about making others think, about opening minds – even if it is the writer whose mind is opened.  Music, Theatre, Film and Writing should ALWAYS ask questions.  Always.

    What do you think?

    -Rayanne Thorn
    BonusTrackDaily.com on Blogging4Jobs.com

    • says

      Hi Rayanne,

      Well, all of those links got the Disqus spam filter going that’s for sure!!!

      Seriously, there is nothing wrong with personal blogging if that is your objective, of selling your persona or things attached to it. I also don’t indicate that there shouldn’t be a human side to blogging, even for corporation, as there should be a unique perspective with unique wording.

      What I talk about is: Is your blogging content meeting your objective?

      Now my responses:

      – Looking for a job, or the job of human resources (PunkRockHR) is a HUMAN INDUSTRY which would indicate to me that you need to be HUMAN in your content strategy to meet your objectives, right?

      – As for niche tools, if that is the focus of your site, great. If not, think twice – I base my observations on bloggers who’s focus is NOT niche tools which is why I bring this up.

      – As for who is relevant and irrelevant, it comes down to knowing your target audience. Being strategic in blogging is about targeting who you think your ideal reader might be. Not to say that an irrelevant reader couldn’t become your biggest fan, but just taking a strategic approach.

      – When I talk about sharing a video, I specifically mention that Google might not index that blog post unless you have a 300 character blog post surrounding it. I’m all for videos and YouTube, but YouTube is YouTube and blogging is blogging, that’s all.

      – As for “trite reflection,” yes, I used that as a call-to-action at the end of a blog post. It wasn’t the entire blog post!

      Rayanee, what works for one doesn’t work for another. There’s no right or wrong in any of this. But I know of a lot of bloggers who struggle to either get more website hits or conversions – if you want to have a personal blog and not care about those, the choice is yours.

      Hope my comments made sense – and have a most wonderful day ;-)

      @NealSchaffer

  2. says

    Have you ever read the “My Turn” column in Newsweek magazine, or the “Lives” column in the New York Times Magazine? These are personal essays; and the only elements of each publication allowing any Joe Shmo to pitch and write and be published for payment of $1000.

    These essays are from people writing from the heart, writing in first person, and writing about themselves and the people and places that affect them.

    Readers love reading these essays — because people love learning they are not alone and other people share their views on life.

    There is no personal issue that is not fodder for a blog; because, Neal, there is no blog that is the same to everyone. There is a reason you do not write about elliptical machine reviews, but some people enjoy writing them and other people enjoy reading them.

    • says

      Ari, look at my comments on Rayanne’s comment. I am not saying there is no place for truly personal blogs. Newsweek and New York Times Magazine are trying to win the hearts of America with a variety of content, so it makes sense that “personal” essays are published – it fits with their objective.

      If you objective in blogging is different, you might want to take a different approach, an approach that is tied with your objective in blogging, that’s all.

      I’m not saying you can’t be personal nor add a personal touch to your blog – if those are the people you are trying to attract, then great. If you write about elliptical machine reviews because you are trying to attract those readers, then you absolutely should do that. All I’m saying is that I have seen a lot of, what I would consider, “off-topic” blog posts – not to say that they may have had an intent, but I wanted to call out a question to bloggers to ask them if their blogging content is aligned with their objective.

      There is no one “right” or “wrong” in blogging or social media – just trying to provide a different point of view and spark conversation – which I apparently have done ;-)

      Thanks again for your comment and intellectually stimulating conversation Ari – have a great day!

      @NealSchaffer

  3. says

    My pet peeve? Turning a supposed bad “customer experience” into a blog post (whereby the blogger always looks so sane and rationale and the company comes across as jerk-like).

    Often times people are unaware of why a policy, etc., is in place. Or how much “power” the person at the other end of the phone/email/Twitter account actually has.

    I always feel like those are “throwaway” blog posts, designed simply to make the blogger feel good about him or herself. 

  4. says

    Many bloggers don’t have well defined goals. Without goals there is no way to measure failure, and without the ability to measure failure you can’t tell if something is a mistake or not. Until goals are set, actions just are. They aren’t mistakes and they aren’t successes, they just are.

    A lot of people have the goal of growing their audience and making money with their blog. If that is your goal, than yes, these are common mistakes.

    @nealschaffer:disqus – Just to be clear. I’m not disagreeing with you. I’m just helping qualify who this post pertains to.

  5. says

    Like you said, what you shared isn’t earth-shattering but they sure are common mistakes. If a company or brand has a blog, it must relate to people who use their brand/product/services and not an online journal of the marketing staff or whoever is in charge of posting on the blog. Relevancy is a way of connecting.

  6. says

    I’m just going to go ahead and say it:

    I have made almost all of these mistakes. 
    (Gob: “I’ve made a huge mistake”)

    I agree with Neal, in that the focus of “this particular blog post” is to question the relevance of your content. As brought up by some great comments, the “6 rules” don’t apply in every situation. Questioning the quality, target, and relevance of your content does.

    There are a lot of people making these common mistakes, though. It does apply to a lot of people, especially people just getting into blogging. *Guilty*

    This falls in the grey area – between Personal and Business – and is a brand new concept to human beings. More and more, things are trending to a life where work and personal blend. 

    Everything is 24/7. 
    Everything is Global. 
    Privacy is dropping quick. 

    This is a tough area to navigate:

    How do I connect with people without over-sharing?
    How can I open myself up to the world, without losing my individualism?

    It’s just like the Social Media sparked revolutions, protests, and movements. More and more, we are losing the ability to hide our faults/flaws, while simultaneously discovering we’re not so “alone/unique.”

    “We all just got caught looking at someone else’s page” – Modest Mouse

    Learning about others teaches us more about ourselves.
    Challenging ourselves to be better, and more relevant, allows others to benefit more.

    The beauty of it, is the reciprocity. 

    • says

      LOVED your poetic response to my blog post (and, yes, I HAVE heard of Modest Mouse ;-). I agree about the personal and professional blending together – in my books I call it a Public Persona, and if you realize this, you will start treating all of the social media platforms, including blogging, in a similar way:

      You are what you tweet, so if you don’t want people to think that of you, don’t tweet it.

      For businesses it is easy to understand – the challenge is for personal bloggers. But as Dan Cristo pointed out in the blog comments below, it comes down to your goal, whether it be for personal or professional use.

  7. Smart12b says

    Some valid stuff here. I wouldn’t disclose personal information on a commercial blog. If I were promoting my business, I would let them know they got the owner/representative but nothing more than that. How Your Business Can Use Social Media

  8. Aliza Earnshaw says

    Neal, you hit all the basics here. I particularly liked your point about resisting the impulse to write about something that’s going to get tons of ink (bits & bytes?) all over the blogosphere. Nice compact post, and a good example of bringing one’s own point of view to a big topic.

  9. says

    I had a feeling some people would react like I did – how am I going to have the time to do the checklist every time? I think that if you use it for major posts first, and commit to eventually going through older posts and optimizing (when you have “free time” of course) then it can be extremely beneficial.

    • says

      Thanks for the comment Luis – it all comes down to getting into a habit of doing these things naturally when you blog over time. It’s hard to change habits overnight, but just something to keep in mind for the future when you blog, that’s all!

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