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Startups and Online Marketing

How To Use Social Media To Generate Content Ideas

social media to generate content ideasThe rise (and rise) of social media has transformed the business landscape. Product launches, customer support, ecommerce — social media is a flashpoint for virtually every interaction with your customers online.

But beyond these features, social media is also a deep well of content ideas. In this piece, you’ll learn why social media is great for content idea generation and how to do it.

Make friends and influence people

Influencers are a polarizing thing. For some, they are an organic way to connect with new customers. For others, they are an ethically-gray area that is rife with fake followers and high prices.

But regardless of your stance on them, influencers are a goldmine for content ideas. They have a unique connection with their followers, knowing what kind of content they like, in what format, via what channel, and so on.

Indeed, that acute awareness of their audience is how influencers achieve such success in the first place. Consequently, it’s worth looking to influencers for high-quality content ideas.

If you already work with influencers in your niche, perfect. Either scour their social feeds for inspiration or speak to them directly to ideate.

social mediaIf not, lean on influencer marketplaces such as Heepsy to quickly and accurately find suitable social figures within your industry.

Peruse their social channels and pick up on the kind of content they create, the format it takes, how they communicate with their audience, and so on.

Micro-influencers are of particular benefit here. Their highly-specific niches mean you can get better, more targeted content ideas that are more likely to resonate with your own audience.

Hear it straight from the horse’s mouth

When you’re struggling for content ideas, it’s easy to get lost down a rabbit hole. You get tied up in your own ideation, striving to find something that sticks, to the point that you become paralyzed and end up with nothing.

In times like these, the best option? Simply ask your followers. The best content (that is, the content that generates leads and engagement) isn’t what you enjoy — it’s what your audience enjoys. This means getting inside your followers’ heads, and surveys are the way to do that.

Create a questionnaire using a dedicated survey tool (Qualtrics is a good option that includes built-in testing for more accurate results) and cascade it to your followers to complete. You might wish to include an incentive to motivate responses, such as a freebie, prize draw, or discount code.

In your survey, pitch a variety of content ideas for followers to pick from. Alternatively, offer open-ended questions for followers to provide their own ideas.

While this approach offers plenty of content ideas to get started with, you can get more from it by combining it with social listening too.

Keep an eye on the trending horizon

talk to your audience on social mediaTrending content is a useful avenue to pursue but tricky to get right. Writing content that jumps on current trends requires speed and adaptability, but it’s well worth it for the resulting traffic and engagement.

In order to create successful content, you need to stay abreast of trends throughout the year. Naturally, social media offers plenty of functions for this.

Twitter is the most obvious route for this, with its Explore feature flagging trending topics and hashtags for you to peruse.

Be conscious that this feature is based on the personal preferences of the account in question, so be sure to use a business account that follows relevant users i.e. accounts your target market also follows.

A good strategy is to pick up a trending topic that your audience struggles to comprehend and then break it down into a digestible format. Alternatively, you could provide a unique insight or opinion, be it educational, humorous, or otherwise.

Ditto for Instagram, whose Explore page presents the most popular content of the day. Much of this is user-generated content, which is content directly created by your target audience. Create a brand hashtag and use your customers’ UGC to inform your visual pursuits by identifying key themes in what they share online.

For instance, if your customers share close-up photos of your products in action, mirror this in your own content. Alternatively, you could simply collate your customers’ UGC and transform it into a piece of content for other social channels too.

Reach for the sky(scraper)

One method that is easy to do but delivers stellar results is the skyscraper method. This is essentially the Annie Get Your Gun approach to content ideation: anything your competition can do, you can do better.

Developed by Backlinko, the skyscraper method involves conducting research into topics and trends that are popular within your industry niche. This research should throw up popular and ranking content that’s relevant to your business and target audience.

A social research and monitoring tool like Social Animal is effective here as it lets you search according to keywords so you can find relevant content quickly. Plus you can filter by social channels to help you find content that is popular too, so you know what resonates with audiences.

Once you’ve found existing content that is already performing well online, you can simply improve upon it.

Even small adjustments can dramatically improve a piece of content. For instance, a quick trawl of Social Animal throws up this ranking piece about content marketing tools. It lists 15, but by rewriting the article and adding four of five more, you increase its value considerably. Easy to do and guaranteed to perform well — a content quick-win.

Rather than sweating over a comprehensive content calendar of unique and original ideas, look to social media instead. It offers a range of ways to generate content ideas, from trending topics to customer surveys. As a result, you save time and money while creating stellar content every time.

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