9 Ways to Use Social Media to Inspire Your Writing

social media how toWhether you’re a personal blogger, business blogger, article marketer, copywriter, novelist, poet, student writing an essay or any other form of writer, social networks provide a vast array of ways to get inspired to write.

This can be considered one of the best ways to beat a case of old-fashioned writer’s block.  You just need to know where to look and set up some channels to provide at-your-fingertips-access when you need it.

Here are nine ways to use social media to find writing inspiration.

#1: Use Twitter for Monitoring Discussions

Twitter Keyword Tracking

An example of keyword tracking using advanced Twitter search queries in HootSuite.

I personally like my inspiration in short, 140-character bites, as it provides the spark to think about a topic. If you use a Twitter management tool such as HootSuite, Tweetdeck or CoTweet, you can easily monitor conversations on any given topic by simply setting up searches for particular keywords.

My personal tool of choice is HootSuite, because you can have many tabs, each with 10 columns of searches. You can use the keyword searches simply to see current conversations on that topic, or go further with advanced Twitter search queries, such as:

  • Keyword filter:links for people discussing a topic with a link in their tweet so you can see a news item, article, or blog post on the topic. -filter:links removes the link so you can see people just talking about something.
  • Keyword ? for people discussing a topic and asking a question – this can be a great way to generate writing ideas because you know people will be interested in your writing if you answer most-asked questions.
  • Keyword :) for people discussing a topic that they like, or Keyword :( for topics that they dislike – a great way to come up with a top 10 list of things people like or don’t like about a certain subject.

#2: Use Twitter for Monitoring Industry Leaders

Another way to be inspired is to simply see what leaders/authorities in a certain niche are talking about. But first, a good question is how do you find industry experts?

  • If you’re looking for experts who blog, try out the Technorati search – just switch the slide over to Blogs and search for a keyword. The results will bring you the highest authority blogs related to that topic.
  • Twellow directory allows you to search by keywords found in Twitter profiles. The results are sorted by the people with the most followers, which is not always (but is usually) a sign of an expert in that niche.
  • Wefollow allows you to search Twitter users by particular keywords, and you can look at the people with the most followers or those who are most influential. Surprisingly, you will find that the results vary between the two lists.
  • Listorious lets you search among Twitter lists for particular topics. Check out the top 140 lists which have the most followers for collections of industry experts.

Once you have found some people who are leaders in your area, create or follow an already-created Twitter list of the top writers in your niche and keep an eye on the things they talk about. Sometimes you may find that you have a little extra to add to what they say, or maybe you disagree and have a better alternative to something they write about. This is a perfect topic to write about in your own blog or article network – just be sure you mention the person who gave you the idea.

Another way to combine the world of experts with the above-mentioned keyword/question searches is to set up a search of questions being asked of industry experts. You would be amazed by the writing topics that can be inspired by simply setting up a search for @expert ? -filter:links to find any mentions of an expert’s Twitter username including a question but excluding any results with links. This limits the number of results in which someone is asking questions about a particular website or a retweet of the expert’s articles. Considering that some people have thousands to millions of followers, imagine how many questions are just waiting to be answered.

#3: Use LinkedIn Answers

LinkedIn Answers Search

Use the simple LinkedIn search box for queries.

Speaking of questions, another great place to find out what kinds of questions are being asked in your niche or industry is within the LinkedIn Answers section. Once you’re signed into your LinkedIn account, simply use the search bar at the top right, select Answers from the dropdown and enter your keyword.

If just reading questions doesn’t inspire you, why not try answering some? Use the Advanced Search option to find keywords specifically in questions only, and check the option to look for only open questions.

LinkedIn Answers Advanced Search

Use the Advanced Search for more specific LinkedIn Answer queries.

I’ve found that answering questions on LinkedIn, Yahoo Answers and even within blog comments has a tendency to inspire a new article idea.

#4: Facebook for Monitoring Discussions

Would you like to monitor topics being discussed on Facebook the same way you do on Twitter? There’s a site for that too, although it’s not as advanced as the Twitter search queries (which means no filtering links or finding only questions). Kurrently lets you monitor up-to-the-minute status updates made from public Facebook profiles.

Facebook Status Search with Kurrently

Search real-time Facebook status updates with Kurrently.

Although you can’t do a search for questions only, you can include question phrases in your search, such as “How do I” keyword. But even if you put the words in quotes, Kurrently will pull any status update with those words contained anywhere in it.

#5: Niche Networks

If your niche or industry is super-specific and has networks that are narrowly focused on that area, why not check out the networks that cater to that specific audience? Some ideas on niche networks include:

To find more niche-specific networks, just Google your keyword and “social networks” or visit websites where you can create your own network (such as Ning) and search for networks built with their platform.

Inspiration for Writing on Popular Topics

What if you’re not necessarily looking for just any topic to write about, but the topics that are going to be most well-received by your target audience? The best way to find out the most popular subjects is simply to look at what’s popular and trending right now. Here are some ways to find some great topics that are more likely to go viral.

#6: Social Bookmarking Networks

If your aim is to get a lot of votes on Digg or similar social bookmarking networks, why not check out what has recently and historically gained a lot of votes in your niche? The Digg search box allows you to look up any topic, then sort it by the Best Match, Most Dugg or Newest results.

Digg Search Results

Search results for "social media" in the new Digg platform.

You can also use the sidebar to get results only from a certain date range (today through the last 30 days), narrow it down to items that have received 50+ to 5,000+ diggs, and sort by a particular media format – in the case of article writing, you will want to go for News. You can also use advanced search queries such as -term to remove unwanted related items from your keyword search.

If Digg doesn’t cater to your industry, you should look at social bookmarking/voting networks that are more niche-specific such as:

#7: Find Out What’s Most Popular on Twitter

If your goal is to have the most tweets, you will want to check out the following sites to learn more about topics that get retweeted the most.

TweetMeme

Tweetmeme lets you see what topics are tweeted about the most on a variety of channels such as comedy, entertainment, business, technology, sports and more. You can view items most retweeted today through the last seven days and sort the items by news, images and videos.

Tweetmeme Search Results

Example search results for "social media" on Tweetmeme.

You can also do a keyword search and sort by the highest number of tweets, age of the tweets (from the last day, week, or over a week old), search within categories and filter items with 100+ or 1,000+ tweets.

Topsy

Topsy is a search engine powered by tweets. Simply enter any keyword. Like the Google search box, it will also suggest specific ideas or phrases for you to get started, or you can just enter a more basic keyword. You can search within the last hour, day, week, month or all recorded tweets for a given keyword, and see the number of times those items have been retweeted.

Topsy Suggested Search

Topsy uses a suggested search popup similar to Google.

Although you can’t sort items by the number of retweets, what I find particularly useful on this network is the piece of information you can find when you click on the number of times the item has been retweeted.

Topsy Search Result

Example search result on "social media" in Topsy.

Topsy Influential Tweets

Hover over the Twitter username for more stats and the ability to follow.

On the next screen, you can either see all of the retweets for a particular item or you can see just the retweets by influential users.

This little piece of information helps you get to know not only what’s popular throughout the mainstream Twitter community, but what topics are likely to get retweeted by the bigger players on Twitter. Hovering over a user’s name, as shown above, shows the user’s stats as well.

#8: Most Popular on Facebook

It’s Trending is a great site to find out what’s being shared the most on Facebook. Although it doesn’t have a search feature for particular topics, if your niche falls under Sports, Tech, Gaming, Entertainment or Comedy, you can see the most shared items on Facebook in those areas.

ItsTrending.com Facebook Shares

ItsTrending.com shows popular shared items on Facebook.

You can also see what’s most popular on particular featured site, so if your writing subject is social media, you can see the topics on Mashable that have been the most popular on Facebook. See our review of It’s Trending for more details.

#9 Most Popular on Authority Blogs

Are you looking to secure a guest posting gig on a major blog, or simply looking to see which posts by authority bloggers in your niche or industry are the most popular? Check out PostRank, which gives posts a ranking based on their audience engagement through comments and tweets.

PostRank Blog Post Ratings

PostRank displays social engagement ratings for individual blog posts.

You can do a search for Great or Best Posts to receive the top content by particular blog.

PostRank Social Statistics

Hovering over the engagement score shows social sharing details.

By hovering over the score, you can quickly see how that particular post was shared the most (Twitter, Delicious, Facebook, MySpace, etc.).

Your Use of Social Media for Writing Inspiration

Do you use social media, networks and tools to get you through writer’s block or to find the topics that are going to be most popular? What other suggestions do you have for writers in any industry on finding topics to write about?

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About the Author, Kristi Hines

Kristi Hines is a freelance writer and author of Kikolani, which covers content, search, and social media marketing. Sign up for her free training, 8 Days to Promotable Content. You can also follow her on Twitter @kikolani. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.internetbillboards.net Tomgeorge

    Hey Tom George here, I just wanted to mention to everyone working at Social Media Examiner that I really think you all are doing a fantastic job of giving so much great information to everyone regarding social media. Keep up the great work.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks a million Tom!

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks a million Tom!

  • http://www.prussakov.com/ Geno Prussakov

    Excellent tips, Kristi.

    Monitoring Twitter Trends (global or local) is another idea.

  • http://www.i-pal.ca iPal Social Media

    Great tools – this is a great post for people who are just getting started in social media in general – not just blogging. Thanks for sharing. Love it!

  • http://twitter.com/StartupSidekick Jason Sullivan

    Very comprehensive article Kristi. I’m looking forward to trying out some of the tools you listed.

    Jason
    http://twitter.com/StartupSidekick (follow me on Twitter for more entrepreneurial advice)

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    I forget about those, but that is a good point. If you can get a post put together that jumps on a Twitter trend, it could go viral on Twitter if the right people pick it up with the #hashtag.

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    I hope you get some great writing inspiration!

  • http://sweetsfoods.com/ Gera

    Excellent tips and very inspirational post, when you’re empty of ideas.
    I’d like to add to the list: Addictomatic that cover several sources and Twitterfall.

    Cheers,

    Gera

  • http://randyduermyer.com/ Randy Duermyer

    Kristi:
    Great job! There’s an awful lot to digest here, but I’ll be digesting it and using it to my (and my clients’) advantage.

    Randy

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    Definitely going to check out Addictomatic… I already like their design with the robot! Thanks for sharing!

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    Yes, these sources can help you find writing topics for almost any industry!

  • http://www.rampworth.com Bnyland

    Great post. I’m a newbie to this social media world and these are very practical ideas to get those creative juices flowing. Thanks!

    Ben

  • http://www.prussakov.com/ Geno Prussakov

    Yep, it can go viral in no time, especially if you yourself promote it with a commonly-used Twitter hashtag for the trend.

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    Most of the same searches can definitely help you find people in social media to start networking with, one of the first things people need to do when starting out!

  • http://www.pushingsocial.com Stanford @ PushingSocial

    These are some extremely clever tactics. I never though of using Postrank the way you suggested. I’m sure I will be coming back here for a refresher course.

  • http://brite-talk.com Andrea DeBell – britetalk

    Hi Kristi! I appreciate how detailed this article is. I had heard about most of these tools but I wasn’t using them in the ways you described. I haven’t really monitored discussions or searched for topics/trends before. I just tried some of your tips and I was impressed how easy it was to find specific blogs/authorities based on my interest. Thanks, sweetie!! Loving blessings, Andrea

  • http://www.buildandbalance.com/ Michael_N

    Kristi,

    I often write based on my own intuition or what seems to be on the minds of my clients. This article has opened my eyes to a whole new way of considering what to write about. I think the challenge – and the potential payoff – is figuring out what new twist you may have on a trending topic. Then, you can ride the wave of interest I imagine. Thank you for pulling together all these great resources! I must bookmark the article.

  • http://twitter.com/benln Ben Lang

    Kristi, awesome post. You really rock the social media world :)

    Thanks for all this advice.

  • http://www.socialcubix.com/ Facebook Apps

    Wow! You nailed it Kristi! It was brilliant! Your writing skills are really awesome!

    Thanks for sharing this useful information! The key to success is to write as much as you can, slowly and gradually you’ll feel the change in your writing skills and the audience’s comments will tell you what you’re now capable of. Writing is not an easy task, especially when writing on Social Media and Internet Marketing/SEO (one of my favorite topics).

    Twitter is obviously the most benefiting in this regard – keeping in touch with the latest trends and stories.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.ryzeup.com/ SEO India | Sartorius

    Hey thanks for your tips and recommendation they are very helpful. Thanks Kristi.

  • http://coffeebreakqueen.com Babs the Coffee Break Queen

    And I thought I was so smart! LOL I follow on Twitter those that tweet about things I blog on, so that I can get ideas at any time. Thanks for more places to check out, this is a wonderful list of resources.

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    PostRank is a goldmine of information that is accessible for free when it comes to finding out what posts do the best with reader engagement.

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    I’m glad you were able to apply them right away and get some positive results! Whenever I’m in a rut for ideas to write about, these are just the things I do to spark my inspiration again.

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    Sometimes it’s easy to think “oh, there are 10 other articles on this topic right now” but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t have a new angle on them. Check out the top ten recent articles on that subject – I have found that a lot of the time, those 10 articles are a gloss over coverage of something vs. taking an in-depth, unique look at it. Like the recent HootSuite Freemium change – I saw Mashable did a story about it, but I was able to add some more information to it (such as alternatives) and create a new, unique post.

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    You’re welcome Ben!

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    Thanks! Sometimes it does feel tough to write about these subjects as so many others are as well. Twitter, especially when you start searching for people’s questions on a topic, can really open the door to questions that aren’t getting answered even though tons of posts are being written on a topic.

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    Hey, if you are following Twitter already for monitoring the conversation, you are doing better than a lot of people out there who just talk but never listen! :)

  • http://www.buildandbalance.com/ Michael_N

    I’m sure you’re right about that, Kristi. It all starts with confidence, doesn’t it? We need to feel that we have something worth sharing even if we’re not some big organization with 50,000 followers. Thanks for the encouragement and example.

  • harly00

    With Google Alerts, you can set up alerts for topics and subtopics in your niche to see what’s making news and what’s being said by others. Monitoring online news and conversations can inspire ideas and introduce you to new content sources.

    http://www.megri.net

  • http://twitter.com/lavenderuses Patricia Millman

    Wow just bookmarked as there is so much relevant information here. Thanks for giving this to us as I know you are one busy lady.
    Patricia Perth Australia

  • http://congressratings.com/ Marc Beharry

    Thanks for the tips Kristi, I get writers block all the time! And I need to come up with article titles by the dozen so this really helps :)

  • Josefina Argüello

    Awesome Post!
    Everything that’s transpiring around us is actually improving the existing foundation for our business, from service to marketing to product development to sales to executive management, and everything in between. I believe Social media delivers new communications tools.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Josefina Argüello – Alta en Google

  • http://outsourcing-services.net/ Outsourcing Philippines

    Social media is a new trend where many people are doing it now. They’re using it both for business or personal.

  • http://www.usainternetmarketing.com/social-media-optimization.php social media optimization

    I Think Twitter only gives you the satisfactory results if you use it by various angels, i am saying this thing on behalf of my little bit work experience, twitter gives you different ways by which you can get the benefits.

    posts is written very beautifully. Thanks for this all unique information

  • Market Affiliations Inc.

    Cool new facebook application launched by Market Affiliations – http://www.apps.facebook.com/whypolls

  • http://squareberry.com/ Judith

    Hi there,

    Thanks for sharing these stuffs. It’s very interesting as well as very helpful to us! 

  • Donnie

    As long as you are an expert in given inspiration, rewriting same information on 100 different ways will not make a good quality content.

  • http://sizzlingmagazine.com/ Kieffer Sutherland

    Hey thanks for your tips and recommendation they are very helpful. Thanks Akif

  • http://talk-iphone.com/ Elena Gilbert

    wonderful ive learned alot from this !

  • http://wallpapersphone.info/ Eloktavian

    I am a writter…
    and i always love using social media to inspiring me.

    Nice Post …..
    Thank you.

  • http://lasantedansmonassiette.com/ Anne

    I’m french and I was looking for tips in english, because I thought I’d find some tremendous tips, and I guess I was right ! Your post is really interesting. I’ve learned very much with it ! Thanks a lot.

  • http://heavenrider.com/ abhishek

    Awesome post, facebook, twitter and linkedln are the best way to promote your content. Thnx for sharing :)

  • http://www.goastudio.co.uk/ George@GOAStudio.co.uk

    Great article Kristi and I learnt a lot too by clicking to your more detailed article about PostRank (link removed), thanks a lot.









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