Every three minutes a new buzzword is born.
I just made up that statistic, but it sure feels real, doesn’t it?
A new one I’ve been seeing is “agile.” There’s agile marketing, agile content marketing. And now agile blogging seems to be a thing.
What is agile blogging?
The agile movement first emerged as a software development method based on iterative and incremental development characterized by a time-boxed approach, rapid response to change and adaptive planning.
Let’s take a look at how these principles apply to developing content for your blog. An agile blog will:
- Satisfy the customer/audience through early and continuous delivery of value
- Harness change for competitive advantage
- Deliver frequently in shorter time frames
- Simplify complex ideas
- Maintain a constant pace indefinitely
I think a key idea in all of this is using an adaptive planning process to generate topic ideas.
The idea of adaptive editorial planning is not new. In many ways it follows the news publishing model of magazines, newspapers and television.
It is a model I used for many years as a publisher of business newsletters. We set the editorial calendar for two to three issues out, working on regular feature stories well in advance of publishing and allowing time for current, event-driven stories as they developed.
This is also how bloggers can develop topics for regular publishing.
Agile editorial planning
The planning process starts with understanding your audience. Researching competitors’ content, keyword search data and social network comments will tell you what the topics of interest are to your desired readers.
Here is where you can borrow from agile developers. They create user stories to define specific requirements for the end user to experience value. A user story is broken down to a simple statement where you fill in the blanks: As a [describe user role], I want to [describe outcome]. For example:
As a [shopper], I want to [search for sneakers by color].
Your research will reveal a number of questions and queries asked by your target audience that can be made into user stories. This is the beginning stage of creating buyer personas. It is also a solid starting point for brainstorming topics for your blog.
Developing ideas for blog topics
Most of your topics will be feature stories or evergreen content, which I refer to as anchor content. You will also want flexibility to respond to breaking news with adaptive content.
- Customer stories/case studies about problems and solutions
- Brand stories that reinforce your value proposition
- Industry trends – technology, regulatory, economic
- Instructional content – customer help via your thought leadership
- Diagnostic content – customer help via checklists, etc.
- Interviews/reviews – introduce industry leaders
With an editorial baseline for your topics, industry and audience, you are positioned to also create adaptive content. For the agile blogger, that means real-time content marketing and newsjacking, both ideas introduced by David Meerman Scott.
Newsjacking is capitalizing on a popular news story to promote your brand or cause. You can find and implement newsjacking topics by:
- Monitoring newsfeeds and social media for breaking news related to your industry and topics
- Checking keyword search volume for the stories to gauge popularity
- Responding quickly. The ideal time to publish is in the widow between when the story breaks and when journalists are seeking more information on it.
- Differentiating. Relate your brand to the news by offering solutions or new information.
I had a modest brush with newsjacking a year ago when Andy Griffith passed. Because I am a lifelong fan of the Andy Griffith Show, I know the episodes by heart.
Besides blogging about marketing strategy, I also write about leadership. I wrote and published a post on leadership lessons from the Andy Griffith Show on the day he died.
It wasn’t a viral sensation on the scale of the Oreo Super Bowl tweet, but it was one of the most shared and commented on posts on my blog. It was also a trending story on LinkedIn. As an added bonus, it continues to get regular search traffic.
Implementing agile blog content
So, what would an agile process look like for developing topics for your blog? Here is my take on it:
- Develop a pipeline of story ideas: timeless and potential breaking news items
- Establish an achievable publishing schedule and timeline 30-60 days out
- Plan for one larger post per month requiring more research and development, working concurrently with other projects
- Be ready to respond to newsjacking opportunities
- Optimize and improve content based on feedback (comments, social shares, traffic data)
- Adaptive planning: evolve the editorial calendar on the fly and month-to-month
The agile blogger
Agile blogging is both a process and a mindset. The process enables you to generate more content ideas, create them faster and get better at producing quality posts your audience will value. Key to making the process work for you is to adopt an agile blogging mindset:
- Take risks – be willing to jump off the bandwagon, go slightly off topic
- Think in terms of evolving content – publish, learn, improve, expand, update
- Optimize constantly based on feedback
Tell me what you think. Is agile blogging a thing? What would you add to the process?
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