If you’re a Bill Gates or a Jack Welch, you will become an “influencer” because you have “street cred” from succeeding in business or writing a book. You will quickly develop a following on social media because people want to hear how you’ve become successful.
But what about us mere mortals? How do we stand up and say something meaningful that resonates with an audience? How do we “decide to become a super-hero” even though we THINK we have no super-powers?
I believe the secret lies in the movie Kick-Ass. Kick-Ass is a dark comedy about ordinary high school kids who choose to become “unlikely” super-heroes. Ringleader Dave Lizewski is an unnoticed high school student and comic book fan who one day decides to become a super-hero, even though he has no powers, training or meaningful reason to do so.
Watching this fabulous movie reminds me of what it’s like to start out as a new blogger or author when you’re not known as an “influencer”.
First, you have to figure out what your good at. EVERYONE is talented at something. What do you do that makes you unique? Who might find your talents useful? Who is in distress and needs you to come to their rescue?
Then you simply need to start blogging about it! Think of blogging like starting your own small business. Fortunately, it’s easier to write good content than you think. Also, you’d be surprised at how people will cheer you on. They love it when someone rises up and says “I am Kick-Ass“, like Dave does in this clip from the Kick-Ass movie.
Just follow these relatively easy steps to up your game when it comes to writing great blogs and creating super content.
1) Learn from super authors and bloggers.
Dave starts out idolizing comic book heroes and imitating their moves. Eventually he develops his own killer fighting style.
As a blogger, you should follow your heroes and share their posts. An easy way to do this is to follow Influencers on LinkedIn, Twitter or online magazines like Forbes. Then their posts appear immediately in your LinkedIn Pulse feed (I have the app on my phone), tweet stream or in your e-mail inbox.
The objective is not to copy your super-hero bloggers, just to learn from them and engage if possible. They will inspire and encourage you.
Here are some of my LinkedIn super-heroes…
- Ann Handley– She’s the best…so funny and helpful. Read ‘Content Rules’ and Everybody Writes. Sign up for Marketing Profs Academy to learn how to be a fun writer and find your voice. View Marketing Profs epic Slideshares to get a flavor.
- Guy Kawasaki– Read Guy Kawasaki’s book ‘Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions‘. Follow @GuyKawasaki on Twitter and LinkedIn to get other people’s content. Be ready for a firehose!
- Jeff Bullas– Jeff Bullas’ Blogcom is the best for blogging and social media amplification that I know of. Jeff is the author of one of my favorite books ‘Blogging the Smart Way’.
- Travis Bradberry– Dr. Travis Bradberry is the co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and the President of TalentSmart. His blog posts on LinkedIn get 100’s of thousands of views and thousands of likes…deservedly so.
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation– Best example of thought #leadership and thoughts on how to #changetheworld out there. Bill and Melinda Gates also publish on LinkedIn.
- Jack (Suzie) Welch– Jack Welch is former CEO of GE and one of the foremost experts on leadership. Jack’s better half Suzie is working magic. Great posts on leadership, management and winning at life.
- Richard Branson– In addition to his Virgin.com blog, Sir Richard Branson posts frequently on LinkedIn. Branson is into social causes, entrepreneurship, happy employees and (of course) living the “rock star” life.
- Jeff Haden– Jeff Haden is a LinkedIn Inflencer and writes extensively for @Inc about leadership and transformation. Read his book TransForm. Jeff is a great guy, often taking time to comment on other people’s posts.
- Ted Coine– Ted Coine writes about social media, leadership and the happy intersection between the two. Read his book ‘A World Gone Social’. Another great guy, as is his co-author Mark Babbitt. I met Ted Coine on Twitter @TedCoine. He’s a beast on Twitter.
- Liz Ryan– Liz Ryan is the CEO of Human Workplace. She writes about careers, recruiting talent, employee advocacy, etc. – perfect for LinkedIn. Plus she has wonderful cartoons!
“Learn from your blogging super-heroes and engage with them on social media. Soon you will find your own voice, develop your own fans and discover your unique super-powers.“
2) Sock them like a journalist with blog openings.
Dave and the other Kick-Ass kids realize quickly that they have to make a dramatic entrance to be taken seriously and to catch the attention of the bystanders. They feed on the crowd of people that gathers with their smartphones to watch these unknown super-heroes spring into action, and the “scoop” goes viral quickly.
Likewise, when you’re creating content you should think like a journalist. Think of openings as an opportunity to draw bystanders in to see the whole show!
Here is one of my favorite blogs from Seth Godin that has an attention grabbing title and a great opening.
Seth Godin: Is Marketing Evil?
If you spend time and money (with skill) you can tell a story that spreads, that influences people, that changes actions. Marketing can cause people to buy something that they wouldn’t have bought without marketing, vote for someone they might not have considered and support an organization that would have been invisible otherwise.
If marketing doesn’t work, then a lot of us are wasting a great deal of effort (and cash). But it does.” – Seth Godin
Seth makes a number of other wonderful points about the “magic” of marketing, including the one I’ve highlighted below. I never would have read the post, however, if he hadn’t socked me with the opening.
Pretty cool, right?
3) Hook them with engaging titles and graphics.
Most of the content that goes viral has funny titles and provocative graphics. The most viewed YouTube videos are, like the unlikely heroes in Kick-Ass, ordinary people who do creative things or perform extraordinary feats. It’s like that with creating great content of any kind.
For example, Hubspot’s Corey Eridon wrote a blog about ‘A Simple Formula for How to Create Kick-Ass Blog Titles’. She opens with a graphic that shows the kind of action words you want to use in titles to entice people to click and starts with this opening paragraph…
“Look, I said ass. And in a minute, you’ll know why. It’s one thing to write great content, but it’s another thing to get it read and ranked — which is where nailing the title comes in. Titles are what sell the content. They represent it in search engines, in email, and on social media.” – Corey Eridon, Hubspot
It’s OK to be geeky or funny with your titles and graphics…even if you’re creating business content. Maybe it’s even better! People want to be entertained and inspired; not just work all the time.
“Think of how you can provide value to your audience and entertain them at the same time. If you were a distracted reader (most are), would the title and graphics entice YOU to click?”
Take this Star Wars themed blog about SAP called ‘SAP Customers – May the FORCE Be With You’ for example. The target audience was manufacturing executives who are looking for enterprise software, which is a pretty small audience. Still, I thought, who doesn’t like Star Wars?
So, I had a visual designer superimpose the faces of several SAP executives (Hasso Plattner on Yoda, Dietmar Hopp on Obi Wan) onto the iconic Star Wars poster from the 1977 classic. It’s not your typical professional photo, for sure. Does the graphic draw you in, though? Would you be curious about who Luke Skywalker with the glasses is? (Click here to find out) =)
Of course you can’t just have “click bait” to get people to really read or be inspired by your post. You have to provide useful information for your target audience and continue to pique their interest. Still, I believe that it’s easier than you think to develop a following and be someone’s hero.
“We’d all like to believe that great content rises to the top. Well, unfortunately it won’t if it never gets seen! Your chance of distinguishing yourself with a “hero post” goes WAY up if you have engaging titles and graphics.“
4) Show your personality.
In the start of the Kick-Ass movie, Dave says “My only super-power is being invisible to girls”. Once he starts being a super-hero, though, his unique personality comes out. Suddenly he is a star with the ladies.
As Ann Handley says in the Content Rules book, show your unique personality and voice. Try not to use cliches and industry jargon, which Ann calls “Frankenspeak”. Read the Content Rules chapter on eliminating words that “make you sound like a tool” and you’ll howl laughing like I did!
Try ditching stock photos of models or conference rooms and replace them with pictures of your staff helping real customers. Or create some fun cartoons, as Liz Ryan and MarketingProfs have done.
“Models and slick videos don’t show the personality of a brand – real people do!”
For examples of how to create great content that resonates with real people, look at the Virgin.com site and Richard Branson’s blog. The blogs are fun and useful with engaging graphics. As you might expect, the engagement level (see number of shares) is extremely high.
Social activity (shares, Tweets, comments, etc.) is everywhere here, whereas with many corporate sites (Oracle.com comes to mind) there is almost no engagement.
Now you might say that it’s unfair or inappropriate to compare company sites like Oracle to Virgin because they’re in different businesses. Well, I disagree.
“At the end of the day, all companies are in the same business – the “delighting your customers” business. Even enterprise B2B companies should loosen their ties and have some fun!”
Companies increasingly need to show their unique personality to stand out from the crowd. They need to show their vision to inspire their “fans” – both customers and employees. Providing valuable content and an active, vibrant blog can be super-powers for your brand.
See the FULL posts ‘8 Social Media Strategies ANYONE Can Master’ and ‘7 Social Media Secrets from Richard Branson’ for more social media strategies and content marketing tips on the new inforln.com blog.
A Call to ACTION
So, are you ready to jump in and write your own blog posts? Are you ready to step up and say “I am kick-ass at <fill in the blank>“?
Then GO for it!
If you have any suggestions about how to create engaging content then I would love to hear them in the comments below. Be our hero and come to our rescue…please.
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Posted by Dan Aldridge
Dan Aldridge is the CEO of Performa Apps, an enterprise software and ERP software consulting firm specializing in Infor LN and Baan. Dan has almost 20 years of ERP implementation experience. He has helped dozens of companies with their ERP software implementations and training including Flextronics (now Flex), Progress Rail (Caterpillar), Mercedes Benz, Snap-on Tools, Blue Bird and a host of other manufacturing companies.
Dan is a serial entrepreneur and blogger with his new site inforln.com. You can reach him on e-mail at dan(dot)aldridge(at)performaapps.com or on his social networks: About.me, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Scoop.it, WordPress,Slideshare, Pinterest and Facebook.