The digital world has a content void that will never be filled. It’s both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it means there’s always room for something new — but on the other hand, it means there’s a vast ocean of competing content ready to engulf and drown yours.
Even so, a handful of relevant views at the right time could be hugely profitable, so you have to try your best to achieve visibility. But to win at content marketing in the digital landscape, you need more than skill, dedication, and efficiency. You also need ideas. But where do you get ideas that tick all the boxes? Content briefs that delight readers, bring in hyper-relevant traffic, and help build your brand? You can create them from scratch, sure, but it’s tough. Better to use all the resources at your disposal to identify them.
Using Social Media to Your Advantage
So what is your biggest resource, you might ask? Social networking platforms. Through your general social media strategy and the activity of your target audience, you can pick out some fantastic content ideas to get your online marketing moving in the right direction. Here are 4 ways to do just that.
Survey Your Followers
The best content you can create isn’t typically the content that you personally enjoy or even makes you happy. In reality, it’s the content that your followers prefer. You might think a particular article idea is genius, but if your followers disagree, then it’s a waste of time. Of course, you need to actually know what your followers think — which is where surveys enter the picture.
Through your social media profiles, you can share a survey pitching various content possibilities and requesting specific suggestions. You can even provide an incentive for filling it in (such as a small discount, or a free gift). Something like SurveyMonkey has plenty of viable survey templates, so take a look to see if it’s suitable for you.
Couple your surveying efforts with talking to followers directly, and you’ll glean useful insights into what they’re looking for. What are they interested in? Do they want basic advice or more advanced guides? Are they interested in industry analysis? How do they make decisions? The answers will help you understand your audience, leaving you to create content of exceptional quality and relevance.
Partner with Influencers
Who says that your content ideas need to be exclusively your own? The beauty of collaboration is that bringing two played-out ideas together can create something totally new. Thus bringing a fresh angle to an old theme. And since almost all active social media users are looking to build their personal brands, it’s fairly uncommon for someone to turn down a collaboration with someone who can offer them exposure to a new audience.
Using whichever social media channels you prefer, look for influential figures in your niche (using a tool like Klear, an influencer marketing package, will help). Take in how they work, what content they produce, and how they communicate with their followers. Think about how you could combine your content with theirs — what could you work on together? Consider the value of the micro-influencer: the more niche the audience, the more targeted you can get.
A key thing to remember about niche content is that it isn’t necessarily limited to having a niche impact. There’s a content approach that’s picking up a lot of momentum due to its immense SEO value. This social media content strategy functions through the hub-and-spoke model. In essence, you create a hub page that concerns a general topic, then use it to link out to various other pages (or spokes) that go deeper into related issues.
Take a look at this hub page on drop shipping for example: pieces of content on specific matters concerning drop shipping (picking channels, understanding the supply chain, etc.) also serve to strengthen the central page as a general resource. That hub page itself could then be used as a spoke page for a hub page about eCommerce in general, linking out to other ultimate guides on topics such as print-on-demand or influencer marketing.
Keep Up with Trends
Ephemeral content is tough to get right — you need to be sharp and flexible. However, done right it can get you a lot of attention for very little investment. Keeping up with trends is key for this, and social media channels are ideal for picking out topics that are gathering momentum. You might question the suitability of many trends, but it’s almost always possible to connect two topics.
Because identified trends (particularly on Twitter) are determined by the interests associated with the logged-in account, be sure to use an account that’s professionally-invested (i.e. not a personal account that may follow unrelated profiles). Look through the trends on a daily basis, and consider a simple question: “What would people like to read about?”. Not only does this draw in new audiences, but it also increases your site’s click-through rate. The more traffic your site receives the more likely you are to increase sales.
In the case a subject that people don’t really understand comes up, you can explain it. If there’s a pop-culture event on everyone’s mind, you can find a (tasteful) riff on it. If there’s a particular content type starting to catch on (consider how brands have jumped on Instagram Stories in the last year or so), you can attempt it. Trendy content doesn’t retain its value for very long. Fortunately, getting a lot of eyes on your work at the peak of a trend is a boon that you can’t afford to overlook — particularly around the busiest times of the year for your niche. If you track the value carefully and adjust your approach accordingly, it will be a huge addition to your strategy.
Try the “Skyscraper” Method
You might think it best to present your ideas as wholly original, spun from your brilliant creative mind, but that would be forgetting the point of content marketing. Whether you’re marketing a product, a service, yourself, or your brand, your goal is to provide value to the reader. Specifically, enough value that they feel inclined to provide some in return. What does originality do for the reader?
The reader wants great content that’s relevant to their interests and needs, and it doesn’t matter if a topic has been covered countless times already. There are no doubt thousands of blog posts and articles about any given popular matter, but if someone released a fresh and definitive piece about it tomorrow, it would get a lot of attention.
The skyscraper method is all about finding content that already performs well and seeking to improve upon it, however slightly, and social media makes it easy to find the biggest hits. Just look for the most retweets of particular links. If you find something that you could do better, get it done — once the content is ready, you can approach those who linked to the previous piece to get some easy attention.
Here’s an easy example found through Google: this article listing 21 cheap ways to upgrade a home. Since it evidently ranks well, there’s a clear opportunity to write a very similar piece listing more tactics. 25 ways, 30 ways, or more. Such a piece wouldn’t take a huge amount of time to write and could attract a lot of worthwhile attention.
Executing Your Content on Social Media
Instead of exhausting yourself trying to build a content schedule with hundreds of fresh ideas, use the reach and power of social media to pick out topics sure to get some traction. That way, you can fully commit to prioritizing quality, knowing that there are plenty of people out there eager to consume your content. This will help you transition from a retail store marketing approach or simply increase your brand awareness. And don’t be afraid to invest in social media marketing software if you’re struggling to gain traction with your followers. After all, these programs are designed to maximize your engagement and exposure online.