There are dozens, if not hundreds of types of content out there; written articles get the most attention due to their cost-effective production value and ubiquitous presence, and visual formats like infographics and videos are getting tons of attention because of their lower competition and higher intrinsic value. But I want to focus on a rarely-used content format that’s non-competitive, easy to create, and sustainable for an extended series: the interview.
Interviews are one of the most valuable forms of content you can create because of the advantages inherent to the medium:
Unfortunately, hosting a landmark interview isn’t just a matter of flipping a switch. You’ll have to make a serious commitment and spend significant effort if you want to see the best results (like with any other piece of content you create).
This is the first and arguably the most important step in the process. Finding the right interviewee isn’t just a matter of finding someone willing to go along with your questions. You need someone engaging, whose words will be listened to by your target audience. You need someone appropriate, so they fit closely with your industry. You need someone with influence, so you have a wider circle of promotion and earn a greater reputation by interviewing them. Finding a candidate that fulfills all these requirements and is both willing and available to be interviewed is quite the challenge. The good news is, the more you do it and the more renowned you become, the easier time you’ll have finding new candidates.
Once you’ve selected a candidate, you’ll have to come up with the questions you want to ask. About fifty percent of those questions should be what I call conventional—they could be common questions you ask all your interviewees, or questions that are obvious to ask (such as asking a writer about his latest book). The other fifty percent should be less obvious. They should be unexpected, surprising, and possibly probing. People don’t want to hear the same old lineup of questions—spice things up!
Once your questions are written, your next job is performing well during the interview itself. You’ll want to choose a host with a lot of charisma, energy, and a commanding, clear way of speaking (or adopt these qualities yourself). Audiences simply won’t tolerate an interviewer who reads off cue cards. Gesticulate with your hands (if it’s a video interview), use emotions and strong inflections in your voice, and do what you can to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the event. That energy will carry over to your guest, and your audience will eat it up.
While some audience members will be interested to hear about the personal developments of your interviewee, most people are watching the interview to get some kind of actionable or valuable takeaway, such as advice, instructions, or tricks to use in a practical environment. If you can, include these kinds of conclusions as goals with some of your questions. Otherwise, the pressure will be on you in the interview to drive the conversation toward these kinds of meaningful conclusions. It can also be helpful to have a mini “recap” at the end of the interview, highlighting some of the takeaways you mutually discovered.
In the opening paragraph, I mentioned that one of the best advantages of interviews is their ability to be translated to multiple mediums. Take advantage of that quality by presenting it in as many mediums as possible. Get it published as a podcast, then embed it as a video on your blog (and upload it to YouTube at the same time), offer a downloadable mp3 version and of course, offer a written transcript for people (and search engines) to read. The more coverage you get, the better—everyone has different preferences.
Finally, take advantage of the fact that both your interviewer and interviewee have personal brands. Try to start follow-up discussions on social media, and encourage everyone involved in the production to share the interview out on a regular basis for a few weeks. Play to the advantages of the medium by capitalizing on this cross-promotion potential.
If you follow these six steps appropriately, you should have no issue developing a great interview series that will put your brand on the map. The bigger and better your interviewees, the easier it will become and the more organically your series will begin to grow. The only hard part is getting started.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.