Keep it Interesting: Strategies for Great Interviews

Whether you watch them on TV, hear them on the radio, read them online or in the newspaper – you absorb a lot of information through interviews. News organizations rely on interviews to get information from authority figures and to show the different sides of a story. Your favourite magazines use interviews to profile interesting people and find out what makes them tick.

You are just as capable of using interviews in a content marketing strategy. Given that social networking is built around connecting with others and listening – rather than just talking – conducting regular interviews makes a lot of sense. Interviews kill two birds with one stone, in that they demonstrate an interest in the interviewee and put you on their radar. They also provide the reader with valuable content from a unique perspective.

How to identify a good interview candidate

  • Look around in your online neighbourhood. Who’s writing about topics or experiences that interest you and your audience? Do some research. Does this person have an experience that would be useful to share?
  • When you’re starting out, stick to interviewing people in your peer group rather than trying to get online “celebrities”.
  • Do some research about the subjects’ background so that your questions are targeted to elicit interesting and useful information (not the same information that’s on their “about” page).
  • Contact them to ask whether they’re willing to be interviewed and would mind answering some questions about a particular topic. Try to make the topic as focused as possible. Rather than “marketing”, for example, propose to ask their thoughts about how to go viral, or whether traditional advertising still works.
  • Ask if you can use a picture of the subject – it helps the reader to see that there’s a real person answering the questions.

How to develop a list of questions

Keep the list short: Five to ten questions should do it. If you find that after reading the answers, there’s more you want to know, follow up with another question. Or, if they’re really interesting, run the interview in chunks over a few days. People are unlikely to read lengthy answers.

First, let the subject introduce themselves and their authority. If the topic is “content marketing”, try questions like:

Ask questions that allow the subject to share their expertise.

  • How do you approach content marketing?
  • What advice do you have about content marketing?
  • What is the future of content marketing?

Get specifics, details and concrete examples – they typically make the interview more entertaining and human.

  • Can you give a specific example of how your company uses content marketing?
  • Can you walk me through the process of developing a content marketing concept?
  • What are some indicators of a successful content marketing strategy?
  • What is one thing content marketers could do better?

Feel free to get a little more personal and pick the subject’s brain.

  • What or who inspires you when it comes to content marketing ideas?
  • What do you love/hate most about content marketing?
  • What’s the best/worst content marketing campaign you’ve ever worked on?
  • How do you keep content marketing fun?

End the interview by asking the subject about their future plans, and thanking them for their time.

For more interview inspiration, go to Business Networking Advice, which runs interviews with many different subjects.

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