You've done some brainstorming and you are coming up with new ideas to write, blog, or create videos on for your audience. But now you're really working on the actual writing, sweating out creating the work. You’re looking for things to add, examples or data, a case study to highlight for your community, or just new ways to approach those topics. Great!
Where do you usually head first?
Use Google to find sources of reliable info and other sites to check rather than just accepting the first result that comes up. But you know that already, right? You’re not new to the search game! So consider this a friendly reminder.
How about some national associations? – professional groups, trade groups, educational orgs – all with a focus on a specific topic and often with a research mandate. Often some of THE most authoritative sites for original research on a niche topic. Do keep in mind that some of the trade associations and such are pushing their industry’s agenda, but many may partner with educational institutions and such to create more open, unbiased research so they are taken seriously.
What about online communities? Forums? Discussion groups? Email lists? Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, G+ Circles and even Reddit. Try Boardreader.com and its Trendy tool, OMGILI or Comment Sniper to search forums, message boards and more.
Where are your people hanging out, talking to each other, asking questions? Go there! Yes, right now!
Ok, you’re back from checking out a few? Found great fodder and inspiration I bet! They have questions, they ask the community and sometimes they get good answers.
But what if you can provide even better answers? Wouldn’t that be really helpful? Wouldn’t your audience probably love you for that? So go write up some of those answers and give them tools and resources for the specific question you saw popping up a lot. Then go back to the community and post a link to your post, ebook, report or video with the awesome answer you crafted.
Social Media – it’s not just for talking about Game of Thrones or your friends’ kid pictures!
Do research on SM platforms where your audience hangs out. What are the trending topics, most used hashtags, most RT’d accounts or posts? Who are the influencers that you follow – or should be.
BuzzSumo – specifically a ‘content’ analysis tool – so it monitors websites, blogs and beyond social media
Bottlenose – mostly a paid tool for ‘social intelligence’ because you can create a dashboard and one-stop-shop for monitoring, tracking, analyzing
IceRocket – may win the coolest name for a tool! A ‘brand monitoring’ tool with easy-to-read results
Topsy – [UPDATE: Topsy is no more. 🙁 ]
limited free searching of real time and archival Twitter, G+ searching; search on KWs, hashtags; filter to only tweets, photos, videos, etc; paid ‘pro’ accounts
Tweepz.com – Want to see who is Tweeting on any topic, location or skill set? Try using Tweepz. You can get inspiration if you're lacking sufficient information about any topic. It’s also a great way to find movers and shakers to follow on Twitter.
Social Mention– Use this tool to find out who is mentioning you on social media (or your competitors, industry trends, keywords or products). Nicely broad coverage of social platforms and good metrics on strengths, reach, sentiment. You can follow the buzz about any topic which can also help you come up with content for your niche.
Netvibes.com – free and paid versions; mostly for monitoring brands or larger companies
Twilert.com – ‘real time alerts via email when brand names, keywords or hashtags are mentioned’
Issuu – free and paid plans; more a publishing or content aggregating tool than a monitoring tool
There are so many tools for social monitoring or listening I can’t keep track or list them all – but thankfully sites like Social Media Today , KissMetrics (itself a monitoring and analytics tool) and Social Media Examiner have already created lists. Go read their lists and find a few tools you like and will use regularly.
Ask your own questions of your audience on social media – a quick poll or quiz or just a ‘pulse check’. But, don't give them too many choices. It should be more like when you get your child ready for school – give them two choices: this or that? Give your audience a choice between two different videos you can create or webinars that you will host. Then, ask them to vote or decide.
Content Aggregators –aka RSS feed readers or ezine collectors. Try tools such as Feedly to collect blog posts and RSS feeds on topics you’re interested in, or AllTop and select from their lists of blogs or topics to follow. Use apps like Pulse, Zite, Prismatic, Longreads or FlipBoard to collect articles from multiple news sources all in one place on a variety of topics. You can curate or share that content as-is, or use it to dig a little deeper on topics and find additional info sources.
There are so many tools available that there’s no reason not to do a little more research and monitoring so you can find the current topics, trends and news that is affecting your audience. Be a hero and share that with them and show them how to make sense of it all.
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I want all of my solopreneur pals to feel confident and mighty in their marketing - sharing what makes their work special and so vital to their clients. No B.S. or fluff here. I do the digging and research for you, translate "marketing-ese" into simpler terms, and help you avoid marketing headaches.
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