Content is the fuel for your social media rocket ship and the foundation of any solid presence in the social sphere. Your content cannot be everything to everyone; however, you can be relevant and provide value to your target market.
Generating compelling content that people want to consume can increase your website traffic and help you attract and retain a dedicated following. In order to produce quality content, you're going to need a good source of raw material to continually draw upon.
Here are 11 proven tactics to help you never run out of content:
#1: RSS Reader: Scan It Daily
A great way to get fresh ideas and inspiration is to sign up for a free RSS reader such as Google Reader. Then use the Google Blogs search option and search blog directory sites such as Technorati and Blogcatalog for blogs that are relevant to your product or service. When you find what you're looking for, simply subscribe by clicking on the RSS feed and adding it to your reader.
Organize your feeds into folders and sort by category for easy scanning; you can combine topics you find in your industry's blogs with your own commentary to create posts that stand on their own.
#2: Make Every Employee a Marketer
Encourage employees to contribute to your blog by writing posts on a topic of interest in your industry. Ask your customer service and sales teams about their most frequently asked questions, then have them write blog posts about the solutions. Creating a simple blog template for employees to use can be a great tool to eliminate any objections to writing a post. Click here for some sample templates.
#3: LinkedIn Groups
There's no shortage of opinions on LinkedIn. You can join up to 50 groups per individual profile. Find the most active groups related to your industry by searching the Groups tab. An easy way to tell which groups are most active is by the number of members and discussions. LinkedIn Answers is also a fantastic place to tap the knowledge of your professional network.
If social media has a grandfather, its name is Grandpa Forum. These open and free discussions are a fantastic way to find out what's going on in your niche. A simple search on Google for “<your topic> + forum” will yield thousands of results.
#5: Make a Tag Cloud
Use entire conversations based around your relevant keywords to build a tag cloud. For example, find 15 tweets that mention your brand, product or industry and drop them into a tag cloud application such as Wordle. You'll often find new keywords you may not have thought of as well as a few surprise topics of association. This is a great way to really stretch your content dollar and find emerging trends to blog about.
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Be nosy. Listen in on conversations offline as well as online. Tune in to conversations while waiting in line at Starbucks or by ear hustling the table next to you at lunch. Find out what people are talking about, what they care about. Carry a small notebook or use Evernote to jot down and keep track of interesting points you overhear and the ideas they spark.
Post a social networking status or blog asking your audience for content topics and suggestions. Online survey and polling tools can be invaluable resources for collecting and prioritizing these ideas in an organized way. Embedding a survey or poll directly into your website or blog engages your audience in real time, and lets their voices be heard. You can also launch a survey or poll directly in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn asking for feedback.
#8: Audio Books
A wise man once said “Why read when you can have someone do it for you,” and the audio book was born. Because everyone is severely pressed for time these days, audio books are a fantastic way to listen to books on the go. Just listening to 15 minutes in the car or 20 minutes at the gym can spark several ideas for content and enable you to “read” a book or two a month. Check out Audible or eMusic for a nice selection of titles.
#9: Google News
Want to keep your content relevant to current events and hot topics in the media? Sure you do. Google News aggregates headlines from news sources worldwide, groups similar stories together and displays them according to each reader's personalized interests.
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Simply search for keywords related to your industry and click on the news. Scanning the results will immediately provide you with headlines to tie your topic to what's happening in the world.
#10: Attend Industry Events
Meetups, Webinars, Tweetchats, Conferences. There's a wealth of events hosted on- and offline on a weekly basis with many offering a free exchange of ideas and knowledge. Look for events with topics related to your industry and jump right in. Chances are you'll leave inspired with new ideas and a new-found vigor to turn them into remarkable content.
“A Day In The Life” is one of the Beatles' most influential songs and it came together with two seemingly unrelated bits, one written by John, the other by Paul. This is a perfect example of how bringing together two distinct segments written independently of one another can spawn greatness.
Like most bloggers, you probably have a growing number of half-written posts. The idea here is to find a common theme or link between two of them and combine. For example, I took a half-written post about identifying influencers, combined it with another half-written post about using Twitter lists, and came up with a fabulous post about finding influencers on Twitter and following them efficiently using Twitter lists.
Where do you get your content ideas? Have we left anything out? Leave your comments in the box below.
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