You know what I can’t stand? Social media seminars that charge an arm, leg, and first-born for an hour-long talk, a slew of white table cloths, and some rubbery chicken facsimile that gets stuck in my lower intestine sometime around 2 pm.
I also loathe the idea that all social seminars worth attending are held in major cities or only once a year. I’m down for a trip to Boston or NYC from time-to-time, sure — I’m not a hermit. But if I can stay in my Berkshires backyard, the limited driving equals a lower likelihood that I’ll be late and frazzled, or on a train when that banquet hall chicken effect starts to kick in.
A seminar I attended this week had the right idea, held as part of the Berkshire Visitors Bureau’s ongoing Brown Bag Series. Ranging in topic from Virtual Business to Bridging Generational Differences, these once-a-month events are a gold mine for business owners and others in the area. Participants simply need to register, pack their own bag lunch (I used an actual brown sack, because I’m literal like that), show up, and take a seat to add some knowledge to their continuing education base.
I’ve actually led two of these sessions before — Managing Social with HootSuite and a #Hashtag How-to — but this week’s topic was Blogging for Business with my friend and fellow social maven Kaitlyn Pierce of Pierce Social.
It can be tough to lead a workshop when you’re not sure what your audience’s level of understanding will be, and when it comes to social media, it’s almost sure to be all over the map nearly every time. But Kaitlyn really hit it out of the park — I was Tweeting tips feverishly throughout the entire hour and learned a lot of tactics I hope to put into play at my job and here at WriterJax. Here are a few of my favorites, for example:
• The most often asked question from anyone hoping to blog, for business or otherwise, is ‘what do I blog about?’ It can be daunting getting started, looking at a blank canvas with hundreds of bells and whistles tucked into the left sidebar next to it. But a few prompts can help get the creative juices flowing; start with posts that answer FAQs. Who are you? What do you do? Why do you do it? Build on that by explaining your process — if you’re a baker, for instance, what are your specialties? Do you try to use specific types of ingredients? Do you have a kitchen work-flow? ‘Link round-ups’ are great posts too — your five favorite sites, places to click over to for news on a specific topic, or a top ten list of online resources for your industry, to name a few. At a business with more than one employee, staff profiles are a great post idea that can repeat for weeks or months, giving you a great cache of content at the end.
• Speaking of having a lot of ideas in the hopper, try creating an editorial calendar for your blog that puts future posts on a schedule. As a writer and a publicist, I use editorial calendars all the time, but until Kaitlyn pointed it out the idea was lost on me as a blogging tool. Duh – it makes so much sense! You can keep things low-tech by using a day-planner and multi-colored Post-it notes, or go high-tech and use an online tool. Pinterest has a whole section of calendar ideas, and WordPress.org has its own plug-in, created by CoSchedule. SproutContent has a list of seven other tools to try (oh look, a link round-up post!)
• K-Pierce also had some smaller but no less important blogging tips taken right from the most recent of best practices. Photos, for example, have long been modeled after print lay-outs when it comes to placement on blogs. But now, the trend is to place photos to the right of the text, not the left or the center. You know, like I always do. Until now, that is.
Have any blogging tips of your own, or questions for that matter? Leave ‘em in the comments.
* Today’s blog title was inspired by The Simpsons’ Ralph Wiggum.