Guest Contributor, Caryl Anne Crowne, Public Relations Specialist
Creating content that is fresh, unique, and engaging is one of the best ways to boost your brand’s online reputation. Especially when garnering new followers and prospective customers are your goals.
But, actually delivering on great content like that is easier said than done. More often, writers hit a creative block worse than Wile E. Coyote smashing into a brick wall.
When you are feeling creatively drained or find yourself in a content creation slump, there are a few resources to turn to in order to discover inspiration that is right for your audience.
Yes, Pinterest. Pinterest isn’t a social platform, it’s a search engine. Once you differentiate it from Instagram and Twitter, you’ll reap its benefits as one of the best inspirational platforms to seek out new content ideas. Plus, you can learn more about your audience’s wants and needs.
- Research keywords and phrases that represent your business
- Browse current content that is popular and well-liked on the platform
- Use the suggested box to further refine your search. This can create paths consumers may be taking
- Sort through All Pins, People, Product Pins, and Boards to see what consumers or competitors are pinning about
In light of the holidays let’s see what happens when we type “Holiday Cookies” into Pinterest’s search feature. After honing in on ‘Healthy’ and by boards, we are able to see how consumers are acting with this type of search.
2. Blog Subscriptions
Blogs are kind of a hidden gem. No, we aren’t crazy. As marketers, we know blogs have major benefits like connecting with consumers, driving traffic, increasing SEO and so on. But have you ever used blogs as a source for inspiration?
- Subscribe to blogs that offer content that appeals to your users.
- Use your blog subscriptions and RSS feeds to stay updated with the latest news in your market and niche.
- Use popular content types to brainstorm new innovative ideas that mesh well with your customer demographic.
A nifty tool that may come in handy for this is Feedly!
3. Social Media Groups
You should join as many social groups as you can keep up with. It’s pretty much a solid strategic move. Marketing groups like the Daily Carnage (not to toot our own horn, but we’re tooting our own horn) will keep you accountable and up-to-date in the latest trends. LinkedIn is also home to a ton of social groups based on industries that are super useful.
- Discover new content, blogs and information relevant to your business model and the types of products/services you provide.
- Learn more about your target market and gather inspiration and brainstorming material from popular posts.
- Read the comments and responses of popular social media posts to get an idea of what works for your intended audience and demographics.
- Find something inspiring? Make sure you save it so you can build on it later for your own content.
Keeping track of what you have already reviewed or read becomes a lifesaver. Especially, when you hit writer’s block. One of our favorite tools to use is Airstory. It’s a Chrome/Firefox extension that lets you clip research, data, and other inspiration you find online.
4. Follower Feedback
You know how it goes. If you want something all you have to do is ask. Need directions. You ask. You need help moving to a new place? All you have do is ask. Out on a date and you want dessert first, ask. Well, on second thought, that last one should be a demand. Who skips out on dessert on a date, honestly?
Ask for feedback from your social media followers and current customers. Find out the type of content they are interested in reading and learning about on your website. Use your current email newsletter to inquire about opinions with polls and responses. With social media, actively engage your users by asking for input, responding to questions, and allowing them to contribute ideas openly and freely.
Building a strong sense of community with a brand online is extremely useful when you are in need of refreshing content ideas, especially when you want to move into different directions with each post and update you make.
But how do you get more meaningful answers? Remember there is a reason consumers read blogs, join social groups, subscribe to newsletters, and even buy things. Consumers do all these things to solve their problem.
5. Use Your Competition
Okay, everybody, spy goggles on. Study your competition using both search engines and their official social media pages.
Let’s be clear first. We aren’t saying to blatantly steal your competitor’s strategies. That’s what theaves do and no one likes a thief. When you’re researching what competitors are doing, your goal should be to differentiate yourself. Be better than your competitors.
What may seem kind of sketchy to society, is actually a pretty healthy practice in the marketing world. Spying on neighbors is bad. But looking at the competition can help you enhance your own strategies. You’ll find valuable insight into the type of content that works best for your audience and which content typically falls short of expectations.
Read comments and thoughts from users on your competition’s pages to discover how users feel about the content, allowing you to learn from potential mistakes and to craft new posts that are even more engaging and useful.
One really cool way to see how your competition is using Facebook Ads is utilizing the Info and Ads tool. It’s just another way Facebook is keeping things transparent. Simply, go to your competitor’s page, click Info and Ads in the left-hand navigation bar and bam! Here’s an example from our Facebook page.
6. Track Trending Keywords and Phrases
Track trending keywords and phrases to keep an eye on your market and to know what is in demand for your users and prospective customers. The tool for the job: Google Trends, of course.
Tracking keywords and popular phrases help generate new titles for your content that are likely to gain traction. Dare we say it’s even possible to go viral.
When you intentionally track trending keywords and phrases, avoid spending time on content that is simply unwanted or boring to those who have a genuine interest in your business and brand.
7. Dive Deep
Like a marine plunging into the dark, watery abyss, you too should take the deep dive into content that is most popular in your niche and surrounding your business.
Even if you have already published content that has driven massive traffic to your website or social media pages, consider expanding on the topics to provide an incentive for your users to revisit your blog and website. Diving deeper into content that is generic provides you with the opportunity to share valuable information, tips, and original ideas that are difficult to find elsewhere online.
Avoid feeling discouraged if the content you enjoy writing about is readily available across the web. Instead, consider generating similar content from different angles and viewpoints, offering unique takes on the information you want to share with your audience. If everyone is talking about who makes the better taco. You should talk about the worst, “5 ways to avoid making the absolute worst taco.” You’re simply doing the same as everyone else from a different perspective.
Users appreciate uniqueness and originality, which is why it is important to share your own thoughts and opinions when generating content to truly stand out in highly-competitive markets.
Brainstorming, researching keywords, and getting to know your target audience are all key factors in finding the right content that will work for your business. With the right tools and resources, ensure your readers and loyal followers are interested in what you have to say as you continue to grow and expand your business and brand online.
Caryl Anne Crowne is a writer and media specialist for Allegra Network. She often produces content on a variety of marketing blogs.