Social Media Can Generate Strong Story IdeasBy Kylie Jane Wakefield September 12th, 2012
Interesting and engaging content is what separates excellent marketers from subpar ones and innovative brands from those still relying on traditional advertising methods.
Inspiration for content can be hard to come by. Cue social media, which is a place where marketers can turn to when they’re struck by writer’s — or, more fittingly, content creator’s — block.
Here are some tips when it comes to scouting out the various social sites for the next big content idea.
Check Out Popular and Trending Conversations
On Twitter, marketers can find ideas under the trending topics. They can post about these subjects and then latch onto the trends by promoting content using the trending topic keywords on their own accounts.
When it comes to Facebook, marketers can tap into the dialogue by liking pages that are similar to their own company, looking at these pages’ posts in their newsfeed, and then sharing the posts with their own commentary, says Shirin Shahin of Constant Contact Blogs.
She notes that the same can be done on LinkedIn. For all the B2B marketers out there: “You may see someone there you want to connect with and interview, find an interesting article you want to link to, and/or get ideas from questions people are asking.”
Look at Comments
Marketers should constantly be monitoring the comments section on their companies’ various social media platforms.
They are full of rich information and can help companies find out what the customers value.
For example, if customers are complaining, marketers can write blog posts about how the companies are solving certain issues. Marketers can also figure out which content is the most engaging by seeing what gets the most comments when it’s posted.
Feel Out the Customers’ Interests
Along with the comments sections on social media sites, marketers should look up what else their customers are interested in.
“Determine what your customers discuss aside from your company,” writes Steve Floyd of AXZM. “This will provide insight into how you can improve the company’s product or service. It will also provide insight into how to tailor your company’s sales and marketing strategy.”
This can be done by looking at the individual profiles of customers on Facebook to see what else they “like,” their Twitter accounts to see who they follow, and their YouTube accounts to check out who they’ve subscribed to.
The golden rule is that content should not be solely focused on the company, or else it looks too much like an advertisement. By zoning in on the customers’ other interests, and then creating content based on that, the content will be engaging to the demographic.
Sometimes marketers come up empty for their own content, even with the help of social media. In that case, curate. One great way to do this is by running a contest, which can be highly engaging and provide companies with a treasure trove of information.
If a company runs a photo contest and receives submissions, it can then showcase the images on the social media sites, through email lists, or on their blogs. The same thing goes for a writing or design contest.
Running contests will promote the creation of content on two fronts: It’ll get customers submitting content, and the companies can give commentary on and run a series of blog posts about the contest.
According to Jib, an advertising, branding, and design firm, contests “engage consumers with your brand in a personal, agreeable and — if you get it right — meaningful way, while delivering valuable info, preferences and feedback you can put into play to enhance your business offering.”