Solve the Problem Your Users Want Solved
What should your content look like? How should you be running your social media campaigns? What keywords should you be writing about, and what are the “best practices” you should be following? To answer many of these questions, we often turn to the success stories. What are Mashable, Seth Godin, and the New York Times doing that you aren’t?
But that’s the wrong question to be asking, because those brands have already won their audience. They have already found and exploited their niches in the market. They have reached the point where they are unlikely to see any dramatic improvement, because they already own their place as thought leaders.
The successes have already solved the problems they set out to solve. The question to ask is what problems haven’t been solved. To accomplish that, we don’t look at the fans, the sycophants, and the flatterers. We look at the outcasts, the complainers, the curmudgeons, and the contrarians.
And there’s no shortage of people like this on the internet.
There is much we can learn from keyword research, analytics, domain authority, and so on, but at the end of the day, the question we are trying to answer is, “what problem should our next piece of content be designed to solve.”
And you can get some sense of this by focusing on the negative feedback others are getting. For example:
– “This article is too biased.”
– “This is too technical.”
– “This was too short.”
– “I wish I could find something more comprehensive.”
– “I couldn’t finish…too boring.”
You get the point.
Try browsing through the top articles in your niche, and reading through the comments. Look for patterns. What problems are they addressing? What are these people missing? What needs aren’t being fulfilled? Which of those needs resonates with you or your brand?
Then meet those needs, whatever the cost.
Your progress will be slow or nonexistent if you are trying to solve problems that have already been solved. Identify that problems that have no solution, and solve them. This is what sets you apart from the competition. It makes you worthy of links, shares, and subscriptions. It gives your online presence a purpose. There’s no reason to choose a competitor over you, because you are the only company that does “you.”