Feel uninspired? Need more time to think about a post? Dreading the moment when you will sit down to write?
It's probably because you're literally drawing inspiration and ideas only from one pool of experience - your company's. Don't get me wrong, it's important to ground what you say in your organization's bread and butter, it's what makes the business unique, different, a contribution.
What makes a blog approachable, lively, and... a blog is its contact with the rest of the world - all those people who do not live your reality day in day out. Some of them are customers, partners, potential employees and colleagues. How can you possibly see your own world through their eyes?
It's like the ebb and tide isn't it? An ocean of content out there, and you in there working diligently to extract and prop up every last crystal of sand while all sorts of fun things are happening on the waves outside. Dive in, jump over the walls, and play outside.
There are many sources of great content you can take back and mold into interesting posts. A few ideas on where to turn for inspiration:
- industry news as selected by your peers and connections on LinkedIn, in trade magazine blogs (look in the comments section, too), and forums - I found Toolbox for IT as a case study in a book and met Dennis Stevenson when he linked to this blog.
- conversations with customers and partners - I might be the chatty kind, but I find reason to ask what customers are thinking about and reading whenever I can. Many of the posts I've been writing recently are a result of questions I receive during presentations and feedback I received in the survey I ran a couple of weeks ago.
- comments in competitors' and industry analysts blogs - why not? You could have the answers or make a go at an interesting exploration. It might give you an opportunity to invite guests for interviews at your blog as well. Consultants or independents might make for an interesting opinion piece.
- participation in the comments to the posts of others - I hear you, there are so many hours in a day. Same hours I have at my disposal, in case you wondered. It really is important to become a member of a community, and to do that you want to show good manners. Pick one or two blogs per day, make it a habit and it won't seem so daunting. You'll be surprised at how quickly you can get attention when you give yours.
- bookmarks by customers or people you'd consider part of your community of practice - look into Delicious, FriendFeed, and Bloglines, for example. We'll do a deeper dive on the tools. For now, just remember to check them out.
- presentations at events that would be a fit with your subject matter - virtual events are also a possibility. Another option is to search for tags or topics in SlideShare. It did pass the one million mark members last December, so there is quite a bit of inventory in there. What are people resonating with? Conversely, what knowledge whole exists that you could fill?
- public conversations about a subject matter of interest to others - you probably saw those thematic hashtags on Twitter. Some example are #blogchat hosted by Mack Collier, #journchat hosted by PR Sarah Evans, #pr2.0chat hosted by Beth Harte. You can find those trending topics on the right hand side. FriendFeed doesn't have the reach of Twitter, but it could be good if the people you're connecting with are there. There's a bloggers discussion room, for example.
- colleagues in other kinds of jobs at your company - people in customer facing positions will see the world differently than you or someone who may not be delivering a service or product directly. In that sense, they do work and operate outside the confines of your walls. I bet you that those associates Disney casts as characters in the parks know how to tell a family is having fun in the rides.
Your job as communicator, writer, editor is to understand what you can say and how you can say it. You'll have good streaks and dry spells. What I find most useful during those leaner times is a nice walk on the beach to see who's out there.
What about you? Where do you find inspiration? What's the hardest part of balancing the company's message and the community's needs and wants? Who helps you the most?
© 2006-2009 Valeria Maltoni. All rights reserved.