One of the hardest parts of any content marketing program is coming up with enough new ideas to keep your content engine running. The sheer volume of posts is intimidating enough for some writers, and if you want to see great results, you have to consistently come up with new, exciting ideas. They must be original, to avoid getting lost in a sea of reiterated content, they must be valuable, or else nobody will want to read them, and they must be relevant, which limits your range of topics depending on your industry and the interests of your audience.
That’s a tall order even for experienced content marketers. Generating great new ideas on a consistent basis is intimidating, but with these brainstorming tactics, you can overcome the hurdles and uncover countless new opportunities for content creation:
Find out what’s happening, on a national and international level as well as within your industry. Simply reading the news might inspire an idea for a new post, or put you in a journalistic mindset. For a specific idea, it’s entirely possible to leverage the power of news posts that already exist. You can “newsjack” a post, writing about a news story and framing it around your company’s perspective on the matter, or you can write a reactionary piece, acknowledging the event but shifting the perspective to the changes you’re making as a result of the announcement. Many content marketers make an effort to read the news on a daily basis as a vehicle for possible content topics—try it out for your brand.
Facebook and Twitter have larger user bases and more public conversations, but the discussions you find within LinkedIn Groups are better sources of content inspiration. LinkedIn Groups are small, niche networks that connect similar professionals together to start conversations and exchange ideas. Sign up to be involved with as many Groups that are relevant to you as possible. Check them daily for new discussion threads, new ideas, and random items that individuals within the Group post to one another. LinkedIn Groups are usually ripe with discussion, since many use them as platforms for giving and receiving advice, so you should be able to find at least a handful of potential topics for your content marketing strategy. Consider what people want and need from each other, and stay away from topics that are reposted heavily to avoid seeming unoriginal.
Another way to brainstorm is to see what your competitors are doing. Your competition is one of the best sources of information you have—you’ll be able to see everything they’ve posted to their followers and readers, and how that audience has reacted. Granted, your target audience is probably slightly different from theirs, but you can get a general feel for how readers react to certain topics and certain angles. Look at the content that seems to be the most popular, and think about how you could do it in a way that’s different. Can you take a different angle on the piece? Do you have a different set of data you can present? The key here is to replicate the conditions that made their pieces successful, with enough originality to differentiate your approach.
You can also look to your own content marketing efforts as a source of inspiration. Chances are, you didn’t start content marketing today. Look back to all the pieces you’ve posted over your tenure, and find one that can be revisited. Look for material that was good enough to warrant a follow-up; one option is to find a piece of content that could be applied to a new realm. For example, if you wrote a “Guide to Marketing on Facebook,” you could follow up with a “Guide to Marketing on Twitter.” You could also visit predictions you made in the past; let’s say in 2012, you wrote a piece claiming that the industry was about to explode. In 2014, you could examine your prediction and the factors that led it to be accurate or inaccurate.
There are countless free webinars available for attendance at any given time, both in and out of your industry. Sign up for one and learn something new, then work those new insights into a blog post. For example, you could attend a webinar going over a new technology rolling out that’s relevant to your industry, then write up a blog post about how you think that technology is going to affect your business. You can also attend in-person conferences and speaking events; these are even more valuable, since you’ll have the chance to interact with other people in your industry and exchange ideas.
Coming up with ideas on your own can be daunting, but if you combine the brain power of your team, the task should be much easier. Ask your teammates for their input on what would make a good blog topic. This is especially useful if each of you works in a different department, or if you each see different sides of the business on a daily basis. This method is a way to refresh your perspective on the company you work for, and give you new material to experiment with. You can also get a feel for what content your coworkers would like to see, and what they think of your current content strategy—every opinion counts!
If you feel like you’re up against the wall and you can’t come up with a straightforward blog post for your content campaign, consider experimenting with a medium you haven’t yet tried. For example, if you usually follow the normal rhythm of a weekly blog post with an accompanying image, why not try filming a short video and posting that instead? Or, you could skip a week and instead invest the effort into producing a short whitepaper. Producing content in a new format could be a jumpstart for your creative juices.
The last brainstorming idea I’ll leave you with is one of the easiest and most useful. All you have to do is ask your readers and followers directly what they’d like to see in your content marketing campaign. It’s blunt and direct, but it’s going to get you a real answer from your real followers. Who knows what your audience wants to read better than your actual audience? Conduct a poll, or reach out to some of your most vocal followers individually. They’ll be more than happy to give you ideas on what they’d like to see.
Every content marketer has individual preferences and a unique rhythm for initiating content, so not all of these strategies may work for you. Hopefully, you’ll find at least a few of them beneficial, and you’ll have an easier time coming up with content ideas.
Of course, if you’re still struggling with creating content that matters to your audience, why not reach out to us here at SEO.co? We’re here to give a voice to your brand and deliver a content strategy that works.
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.