Racking your brains for content ideas is time-consuming and often frustrating. When you’ve got other stuff to do, you need a steady flow of content from reliable sources.
Knowing where to go for content ideas makes your life easier but it also makes sure what you’re producing is legit. It helps your customers because the stuff they get is valuable and it helps your team because they feel like their expertise is being used and recognised.
It’s amazing what you can learn about your business and its services from your customers. In fact, it can be kind of shocking. Unpleasant truths aside, valuing your customers as the treasure trove of opinions, stories and ideas that they are will give you PILES of content.
But although people love voicing their opinion all over the internet, it sometimes helps to ask them exactly what you want to know. These are the two options I’ve found most effective:
1. Twitter polls
Twitter polls are my very favourite because they’re quick, easy and get about 200% more engagement than any of my other stuff. It can cost hundreds of pounds per survey question is you go to a consumer data company – and sometimes the sample size will be smaller than you can get on Twitter for nothing.
My last Twitter poll got 3,250 responses and I was able, through the targeting on my £15 promotion, to focus it mainly on my target age group. Sure, people will have seen it organically too but most of the account followers are that age group too, so it’s all good. I wouldn’t base a scientific paper on the results but that’s more than good enough to inspire some nice graphics and a blog post or two. Cost: £zero to whatever you like.
2. Google Form survey
Again, very easy to set up but you have way more scope. You can edit the colours, add your logo, choose the format of the questions (dropdowns, multiple choice, text answers and so on) and generally just build a great survey.
As I said above, paying a company to run your survey is hopefully going to get you the kind of data you can swear on in court, but it’s going to cost you hundreds or even thousands of pounds. If you’re a small business, just do it yourself. Cost: £zero
Both these options are very low cost – free is the lowest cost of all – so how you choose to promote them (email, social ads, competition) is the only thing to budget for.
1. Pain points you can solve
As well as getting that valuable feedback from customers, you can use social media to generate content every single darn day. Questions you get asked or concerns you see from your target audience at large are very rarely going to be 100% unique, so you can use them as an alert to content that your customers need.
These questions or worries can tell you about topics you should be discussing on social, FAQs you need to add to your site, a blog that should explain an aspect of your service or even warn you of a part of your service that needs to change.
Content should solve people’s problems. By supplying great information and advice upfront, you solve the problems that can turn nasty later on.
2. User-generated gold
There is nothing more powerful than a customer telling another customer you’re awesome. You, The Man, are not trustworthy – another civilian is. It’s why bloggers make money promoting products and no one buys anything without looking at the reviews first.
So, your customers need to do your marketing for you. OK – how?
I know from experience that just asking people to do something doesn’t work. We’ve all seen the desperate tweets from brand accounts asking what our favourite FinTech app is or to share pictures of us eating their cheese. People don’t want to make an effort just so your social strategy looks successful.
So, it’s got to be easy and it’s got to benefit them. That benefit doesn’t have to be free stuff (free stuff really helps though) – it could be social benefit; looking good. Something I’ve found very useful is building a certain status around those who engage often. They get the true banter, they hear about new stuff first. If you can form a really personal relationship with those people, they’re likely to help out when you need something promoted.
Any campaign you launch, take the news to the people you talk to most on social. They feel special, maybe they get early access to something, and you get feedback and hopefully a post to that person’s followers or at least engagement on your campaign to get the ball rolling.
Your events are the BEST source of content because content is, sadly, rarely human. Face-to-face has a special feeling to it these days, so it makes for personable and interesting content with lots of cool avenues to explore.
Content you can get from an event
- Photos – duh
- Soundbites – interview attendees and presenters
- Video – film presentations to share online later
- Competition entries – a kids’ drawing contest you can put in a blog later? Gold.
- Surveys or trials – get feedback on a new product or the event itself
Get more on how to turn your events into content.
1. Customer service team input
When your colleagues feel like you’re listening and value what they have to say, content abounds. They could be just moaning that customers always ask the same questions (time for a blog or social post) or they could be suggesting something cool they think their customers would enjoy.
Sometimes, suggestions from people that don’t make content themselves will be a bit pants. Some diplomacy is needed and I find it’s sometimes worth developing the slightly-pants ideas just so people feel like they’ve had an impact. It’s all inspiration.
Other times, the different perspective will produce an idea so frickin’ amazing you’ll wish you’d come up with it yourself. Make sure they get the credit so people want to stay involved.
2. Cool stuff your colleagues are doing
Got a charity thing going? Running a scheme to cut down on office waste? Make it interesting. Doing things outside of the normal working day that benefit the community or the environment makes your business look human. Good press.
If someone at work is doing something truly insane for a good cause, put a blog up about it and send people to where they can donate. It will make your colleague feel valued, help them meet their target and remind anyone lookig at you how wonderful you all are.
Read a bit more about making good content out of good causes.
Going to these four sources will generate many, many types of content: videos, images, stats, customer quotes. Joy – on a budget.