Marketing October 9, 2014 Last updated September 18th, 2018 528 Reads share

Ask The Right Questions: Creating Awesome Blog Content By Interviewing Others

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Are you interacting with influencers? If not, you are missing out on a seriously important opportunity. Influencers hold a huge amount of power on social networks, and have a large scale reach that can be a valuable resource for your site.

How can you use someone else’s popularity to fuel your own? You can start by conducting interviews with those experts, and so potentially tapping into their fanbase.

The Draw Of The Expert Interview

In today’s world, writing educational articles just aren’t doing it for anyone. People can find that sort of thing on any number of sites. You have to present a new argument if you want to stand out these days, and this is mine: expert interviews are one of the most efficient ways to build connections with influencers through content.

If you have some kind of relationship with an expert, even if only on social media, you are better off trying to start with them. However, it should be less about who is most popular, and more about who can offer a genuine interview that will benefit your readers.

Share out some article they have recently written, @tag them, and compliment them on the piece directly. You will be amazed at how such a simple gesture (rather than a retweet) can spark an instant connection.

Once you have decided for sure who you want to ask, get in touch with them. Keep things short. Influencers are busy people! Three to four sentences explaining who you are, what you want to interview them about, when you want to do it, and past examples of your work are all that should be included.

Remember: they are going to be skimming emails, not reading them in depth. The fastest way to turn off an influencer is being too wordy with your first pitch.

Open-Ended versus Closed Questions

Start with the basics: your blog interviews questions need to be open-ended to encourage full, meaningful answers using the subject’s own knowledge, experiences and feelings.

The simplest examples are:

Open-ended questions:

  • How do you find sites to contribute to?
  • Which social media sites are the best for bloggers and why?
  • What are the 10 ways to get visitors to your site without Google?
  • How do you manage to motivate yourself to keep writing articles on a daily basis?

Closed questions:

  • Is Brazil your dream holiday location?
  • Is SEO dead?
  • Which is better for bloggers, Twitter or Facebook?
  • Would your website survive a Google manual penalty?

Now, while these are generic examples of open-ended versus closed questions, they are not ideal expert interview questions, because they are too generic.

Let’s move forward…

Finding the Hook: Spend Time Brainstorming *Good* Questions

Not to put you under pressure, but your questions had better be good. One of the biggest mistakes interviewers make is being redundant in their questioning, asking what a million others have asked before, or just being plain old boring. You want to avoid all three, and keep your questions interesting and fresh.

A few favorites I have seen used over the years:

  • (Asked of a big shot social media marketing guru.) What is the most embarrassing professional screw up you’ve been guilty of on a social media platform?
  • (Asked of a startup founder who grew his company into a massively successful business.) How do you know which customer demands to meet, and which to ignore?
  • (Asked of an entrepreneur who has been involved in many large business ventures.) Take us through a day in your life… what does an average Monday look like for you, both professionally and personally?
  • (Asked of a celebrity well known for being a part of various industries.) What would you say is the most important tool for maintaining balance? How do you do it with such a busy and full life?
  • (Asked of a famous blogger.) What question do you get the most, that makes you want to just rip out your hair every time you see it?

Ask questions that are going to provide thought provoking answers, or just give you a glimpse into the expert, along with those industry specific ones that will inevitably be a part of the list.

Getting Followers Involved: Build Interactions and Anticipation

You don’t have to be the only one asking questions. Give your followers a chance to submit questions to be asked during the interview. Or, if you are holding it on a social platform like Twitter, open the floor to them to ask the questions themselves.

If you do go with the second option, make sure you work out ahead of time who is going to be asking questions. Have them join a list, and then have them field it one at a time. Otherwise, the result is going to be chaos. Your expert will have to pick and choose, which works for platform like Reddit that is more stagnant, but not so well for something with live updates.

Here are some tools and ideas for you to build interactions and anticipation while getting ready for your expert interview piece:

  • Use Twitter chats to get different ideas on what to ask your expert(s). Try TwChat for that
  • Try social-media-friendly surveying tools. One of the best ones is Wedgies
  • Use MyBlogU to easily collect ideas.

MyBlogU project

Conclusion

Every niche has social influencers who have had to build their way into that position. Already, that makes their expertise valuable to both you and to your fanbase. Take advantage of the many benefits by picking their brain, and you will be able to both increase your own visibility, and provide a bit of high quality content.

Best of all, when you connect with one expert, others will follow. You will have made a link between the two of you, and can point further influencers in the direction of the interview, so you can pitch to them, as well. It is like an every widening circle!

Images: ”Interview In Progress” sign on an office door.Shutterstock.com

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Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty is an experienced blogger and entrepreneur running a lot of projects including Viral Content Buzz and TekSocial. She is also community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann Smarty is the serial guest blogger running My Blog Guest, the free guest blogging and content sharing platform.

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