Does every time you need to write a new blog post or put out a social post feel like you’re trying to pull ideas out of an empty well? If so, you’re not alone. That said, writing marketing content does not need to be this difficult. The key is to come up with long term campaign ideas just once a year so that you can remove the painful process of frequent ideation while saving yourself a ton of time. In this article I’ll provide ideas and concepts that you can use to take the headache out of generating blog and social media content.
Note: If you prefer to listen to your content, I was interviewed on this topic recently on an episode of Marketing Made Easy.
Before brainstorming – level set on helpful content
Blogs and social media are not about selling your offering. They should be about drawing people to your website and making them aware there is a solution to their problem. In order to do this, you need to engage them with content that is seen as helpful to them. It should be:
- Relatable – written from their point of view, not yours
- Educational – gives them information they didn’t know
- Actionable – gives them information they can use
Make sure you and your brainstorming team are focused on generating ideas that fit these requirements. Content that focuses too much on your offering will fall flat.
Key questions for successful blog idea brainstorming
Start with a brainstorm session inviting a few others who understand your offering and your target audience. By target audience, I mean the people who you are trying to attract to your offering. During the session, answer the following questions, making a comprehensive list of your answers:
- What pains is the target audience experiencing that might lead them to consider my offering?
- What passions does the target audience have that are tangential to my offering?
- What questions does my target audience usually ask before becoming a customer?
Next, for each answer, brainstorm a list of topics you could write about. For instance, if one of the topics is a pain that the target audience is experiencing, you could potentially write a blog post about the following:
- The story of what an actual customer experienced (can make anonymous)
- X ways to eliminate the pain
- The causes of the pain and how to solve them
Put all of this information into a spreadsheet. By the end of the exercise you should end up with enough blog ideas for a year or more worth of blog posts depending upon your frequency. Keep adding to this spreadsheet when you come up with a new idea. For instance, when a potential customer asks a good question, add it to the list. Better yet, write up the post while the answer is still fresh in your mind.
Repeat the brainstorming exercise anytime something changes in your business such as a new offering, a new pain felt by the target audience or a shift in your target audience behavior.
Generating social posts for blog promotion
The most basic type of social post to create is those posts that lead people to your blog posts. The best time to generate these posts is right when you finish writing the blog. As the author, you know what is of interest in the blog posts to your target audience. Ask yourself what points in your blog will surprise or delight your target audience. Additionally, if there are any interesting statistics, these make great points to share. Consider statements like:
- Did you know that XXXX? [link to blog post]
- Really?!? XX% of XX do XX. [link to blog post]
- Wondering why XXXX happens? Read on! [link to blog post]
- XXXX doesn’t have to be difficult. Here’s how to solve it! [link to blog post]
Come up with 8-10 hooks for social posts and schedule them over a month period to get the word out about your blog.
Generating social posts for “filler content”
It is much easier to keep up with the pace of social media if you have “filler” content that can be used at any time to fill in the gaps in your schedule. Here are some ideas for this filler content:
- Statistics – do you have statistics on your website from third party sources or from your own research that helps to convince your target audience why they need your offering? If so, create a social post for each one. Take the time to create a simple image for the post with the stat in it. This can be done in a document or presentation tool by changing fonts and adding the source name or logo. Then group or select all and save as a jpg or png file.(see Gallup example) Then in your social post, create a one liner about how they can avoid the bad thing or realize the good thing the stat represents by visiting your website.
- Testimonials – do you have client testimonials on your website or a review site? Just like the statistics, create a graphic for the post that includes the quote and the person’s name (if possible). You can also include a headshot or an avatar. Then in your social post, create a one liner about how they can experience the same and to get started by visiting your website. Alternatively, you can also say thank you to the client for the review!
- Features or Services – take a look at those key aspects of your offering that you describe on your website and create a social post for each. Make an image from that web page be the image in the social post and as a question as your social statement. What do you do for XXX? Does your XXXX look like this?
Once you’ve generated all of these posts, you can schedule them over the year or use as needed during slow content times.
Generating social posts for branding
Social media is your channel to create commercials for your business. Just like a television commercial, the most effective ones take a single concept and run with it for at least a year. You can have the same impact with just a little bit of creative thinking. The challenge is to find an entertaining way that you can grab people’s attention to position their pain and your solution. Then to create enough variations of this to run for a long period of time. Here are a few ideas to spark your creative energy!
- “Would you rather” scenarios – post a crazy “would you rather” scenario each week. The scenario should pit a pain of the target audience against a crazy alternative. For your image, try to find one of the crazy scenario. If you post on a channel with a polling feature, you can even ask people to choose. Here is an example: Would you rather do this XXXXX (pain) OR Spend a day in a pig pen rolling around in the mud? Don’t do either! We can help. [link]
- Home Shopping Network pains – the oh so exaggerated infomercials that make it look like simple tasks are outrageously difficult are the inspiration here. Choose pictures that show people or babies or animals with outrageous expressions with a repeated social statement like “Feeling XXXX?” We can help with that. [link]
- Battle cry hashtag – create a movement that has a simple battle cry that you can turn into a hashtag. Something like #makeXXXeasy. Then post pictures for the movement that can be anything from pains or protestors with your hashtag on their signs (using a little photo editing). Then make social statements like “XXXX shouldn’t be hard. We’re working to #makeXXXeasy. Join the movement at [link]
Just like the filler social campaigns, you can generate a long list of ideas in one sitting and get them ready and scheduled in advance so that you don’t have to worry about getting brand awareness going throughout the year.
Ensuring your ideas hit the mark
To make social media posting as easy as possible, I recommend using a tool that allows you to schedule your posts a year into the future. For even more social oomph, look for a tool that also uses campaign templates and intelligently can repost successful posts for you when you have gaps in your schedule.
Another tip for successful blog headlines and social statements is to use a headline analyzer. I type in my best headline and then continue to iterate until I get a good score. The extra effort is well worth it to ensure your posts get noticed.
Lastly, an important part of marketing content is going back to look at what ideas were a hit and which were a flop. Make a point each month to look at the clicks and shares on social posts and the visits to your website and blog posts. Take note of the winners and losers so you can make adjustments.
Need help brainstorming and writing this content for the year? I can help!