People’s initial barrier to social media success is usually perceived as using the tools themselves. Once they have realised that that’s the easy part, the next obstacle is knowing what to say.
Gareth Edwards, associate eMarketing consultant at the National B2B Centre, highlights 8 ideas that can get your creative juices flowing.
Picture the scene. You have just attended a social media training course, seen an inspiring blog post or noticed that one of you competitors is picking up fans on Facebook. So you want to get going with your own campaign.
You sit down in front of an empty screen or a blank piece of paper and don’t know what to say.
It’s really frustrating and some people go off social media at this point but my advice is to relax. Everybody, and I repeat everybody, has lots of interesting themes and topics just ready to generate an article, blog, Facebook post or Tweets; or inspire you to create photos, videos or graphics.
This article is going to make it easy for you by providing some ready-made headings to get you going.
Winning Content Ideas
Here are 8 ways to get you started:
1. Create a list
Articles that start something like ”10 way to achieve…”, or “15 fascinating facts about…” or “8 ideas to…” have three big benefits.
- They attract readers’ attention.
- They can come directly from your personal knowledge or expertise.
- Google will help you add extra items to your list very easily.
You can make lists about almost anything. Consider what tools you use to do your job, best sources of information or something lighter like the 6 best places to get a full English breakfast in Birmingham.
2. Application of your product or service
It may surprise you to learn that in lots of cases your customers are less interested in the nuts and bolts of your product or service, than in how it will specifically help them or work in their environment.
You could weave in elements of case studies but my advice is to keep these application stories anonymous. It will be quicker and easier to write them and you can make them as specific or as general as you need.
Events such as trade shows, conferences, networking or product launches are a great source of content material. It doesn’t really matter whether you are hosting, exhibiting or just attending.
What I like about events is the time dimension that they offer, before, during and after, and how that makes it easy to use a variety of different social media tools.
In other words there are some big story opportunities (blogs or articles) as you announce the event or your attendance, explain what’s happening and then do a round-up afterwards. There are also relationship building opportunities on, say, Facebook and Twitter with other participants as the event gets closer and when it’s on. And the during phase can be used to give a running commentary or provide video or photo feeds to show what’s happening.
What’s the strangest request you have had? What’s the biggest deal you have ever struck? Who is the most famous customer? What’s the most interesting question you have been asked?
Once you start thinking along these lines you’ll quickly develop an instinct for working out what applies best to your business or your industry. Who knows you might be able to create a series of posts or tweets with relevant stats or information.
5. How do I?
A substantial number of web searches are based around questions like “How do I?” So creating material that poses those questions and then answers them could bring extra traffic and visitors.
One of the good things about this approach is that your customers are probably supplying you with content ideas at this very moment in Facebook conversations, email and phone calls.
Every question, even the seemingly trivial ones, is an opportunity to show off your knowledge and your service capability.
Try doing this search “how do i clean tar off my leather car seats” in Google. Look out for the entry at position 9 written by Heritage Polish back in 2011. It still generates visits and sales.
6. Your opinions, thoughts and ideas
You are an expert.
You know your business, your industry, the market and your clients like nobody else. You also understand the impact of external forces such as the law, the economy or the weather on what you and your customers do.
So start capturing your opinions, thoughts and ideas and publish them (on whichever social media channel is most appropriate). Then look out for how other people respond and carry on the conversation.
7. Your customers’ or suppliers’ opinions, thoughts and ideas
What do the people you work with have to say and can you provide a channel for them to say it? This could be a good way to get someone else to fill the empty screen as well as helping to cement some business relationships. What you are looking for is anything from a straight testimonial to their own perspectives on what’s happening in the industry (with some good words about you on the way no doubt).
Remember to insist on editorial rights before anything gets published though, just in case your guest contributors get a little carried away.
8. Joint publicity
Taking the previous item one stage further we have the idea of joint publicity with clients, partners or suppliers. This is most likely to work with companies of broadly similar sizes but you might press the corporate social responsibility button of the big boys if you are lucky.
I use the phrase “joint publicity” quite specifically to replace case study. Case studies are prone to being formulaic and because they are seen as a bit boring it’s hard to get much enthusiasm or co-operation going.
Joint publicity sounds much more exciting and has the benefit your co-publicists will distribute content out to their networks too, thus extending its reach.
That reminds me. If you have worked with the National B2B Centre as a consultancy client, training or event delegate, or a user of our content, then maybe we could arrange some joint publicity?
9. Just start chatting
Thanks to Jane Stretton (@dovefarm) for reminding me of this one.
Yes, you can just start ‘talking” to people who have interesting ideas, posted a picture or video that you like, or pose a question that you can answer. It can be as simple as that.
That’s just 8 9 simple ways to get you started. I am certain that this has stimulated your brain to come with lots of variations on what you have just read or come up with your own set of ideas.
Remember that you can make these ideas bigger or smaller at any time to accommodate the amount of time you have available for writing, what you think your audience wants or what social media tool you happen to want or need to use.
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“Success Audit – How to generate content for websites and Social Media” describes a deeper process for uncovering things to say.
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