Financial content: Ask questions of your readers

Coming up with financial content can be challenging. Where do you get the information to put in whatever you write? Questions are a great source of information for investment and wealth managers’ tweets, blog posts, articles, and even white papers. I recommend that you keep a paper or electronic notepad handy to record questions asked by your writing content

However, sometimes you need a fresh source of inspiration, opinions, and information. It’s time to turn the tables. Ask questions to generate financial content.

1. Ask questions that people can answer with one word

A webinar presenter—I think it was social media strategist Amy Porterfield—suggested boosting Facebook engagement by posing questions that ask for a one-word answer. Because you request little from your audience, it’s easy for them to respond.

Inspired by this idea, I asked on Facebook and in LinkedIn groups for my readers to share one word that defined ideal investment commentary. The volume of replies astonished me. At one point my question was the “Manager’s Choice” on the CFA Institute’s LinkedIn group. It was nice visibility for me. I believe it happened because group members enjoyed the opportunity to express themselves on a topic about which they felt passionately. The group members’ answers broadened and deepened my understanding of my topic.

2. Run an online survey

My readers’ enthusiastic reply to my one-word question about investment commentary inspired me to create an electronic survey about the characteristics of good investment commentary.

Readers’ answers eventually led to “Ideal quarterly investment letters: Meaningful, specific, and short,” a key piece of content on my blog.

I used some open-ended questions in addition to easy-to-answer multiple-choice questions. When you include open-ended questions, you allow your readers to develop original content for you. A meaty blog post can result. However, be aware that analyzing the non-quantitative survey results can be time-consuming. While a program like SurveyMonkey can compile the quantitative answers, it can’t sort through text answers. You’ll need to evaluate the meaning of the answers and identify the best material yourself.

In the compliance-sensitive world of financial services, I find that people like the anonymity of online surveys. They feel free to express themselves in ways they’d shun if they needed approval from a compliance officer. This can spark colorful quotes.

When you write about what your readers say, you give them a voice. This helps you to build a sense of community with them. Reader-generated content also adds a sense of authenticity to what you write. This is especially true when you include direct quotes.

3. Run a multiple-choice poll

“I voted ‘yes’ on your poll.” Back in the days when I ran a poll in my monthly newsletter, my newsletter readers often mentioned my polls when I met them one-on-one. If you publish the poll results only in your e-newsletter, as I used to do, you give readers an incentive to subscribe. That’s always a plus.

Like the one-word-answer technique, multiple-choice polls don’t require much effort for people to answer, which boosts participation.

I often enable readers to add their own responses to the polls, rather than choosing from those I’ve listed. I’ve received some good insights from allowing them this freedom.

By the way, consider testing your poll on a member of your target audience before you release it. Your instructions or questions may not be as clear as you think. I think I’m a clear writer, but my outside readers have helped me to refine my questions for better results.

4. Start discussions on social media

Posing a question on LinkedIn or other social media is a great way to collect content. I especially like doing this on LinkedIn because all of the answers are collected in one place. Also, one person’s response often sparks another.

When a social media question inspires a lively conversation, that says that the topic is worthy of a blog post. It’s likely to be shared widely.

Career strategies for wealth managers without a book of business” is essentially a compilation of answers that LinkedIn members posted in response to a question. I quoted only LinkedIn Group members who gave me their permission since I posted my question on a members-only group. If you post on a public group, then technically you don’t need to ask permission. However, I think it’s the right thing to do, unless you explicitly warn people in your original post that you are looking for quotes.

5. Ask “What do you want to read?” at every opportunity

You can ask clients, prospects, referral sources, and social media connections “What do you want to read?” Also, What’s your opinion on that?” The people whom you ask will be flattered you asked for their opinion.

More ideas for generating financial content

By the way, for another perspective on using surveys and questions, read “3 Ways to Create Highly Valuable Blog Content” on the Social Media Examiner blog.

You can learn even more ideas for generating financial writing topics and content when you sign up for my class, “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A 5-Week Writing Class for Financial Advisors.” The next session starts in February 2016.

What do you want to read?

Of course, I’d like to learn more about YOUR interests. Please leave a comment suggesting topics for future blog posts.


This post originally appeared in a slightly different form on the Wired Advisor blog, which no longer exists in its original form.

Image courtesy of mapichai /