12 Easy Ways to Feed the Content Machine

Just kidding – good content is never really easy. Most brands have consistent and accelerating needs for all kinds of online content, ranging from website updates to social posts, whitepapers, news alerts, blog posts, and videos amongst a much longer list. It can be a daunting task to find the inspiration, energy, and resources to produce relevant, engaging, valuable content. But only recently, and by no means, universally, have there been teams specifically tasked with and budgeted for this volume of content production.

Striving for the kind of content that speaks to the audience, is current, on brand, and on strategy, as well as suited for its specific purpose, takes discipline. If you have a solid plan, then using some tried-and-true shortcuts may help inspire your content efforts without reducing their impact.

  1. Capture ideas as they come to you because YOU WILL forget them later. Keep a notebook handy or use the voice notes in your smartphone to capture the basics of your idea for later elaboration.
  2. Join existing conversations by monitoring trending hashtags and keywords.
  3. Stay up to date on relevant news. Start a Feedly or other RSS reader to easily browse headlines and share appropriate content from your industry or areas of expertise.
  4. Take advantage of notable days/times of the year- smaller holidays, sporting events, spring break, etc. Dates like these are easy springboards for conversations and can help fill in some blanks on an otherwise daunting content calendar.
  5. Go visual. A picture is worth a thousand words and there are great images, photos, infographics, and other visuals that have a lot of sharing appeal.
  6. Use a current experience, challenge, or intellectual obsession to fuel a topic or perspective.
  7. Revisit an earlier idea. In our worlds, things change so frequently that reassessment should be a regular commitment.
  8. Re-purpose corporate communications and happenings. Take your PR releases and other corporate documents and summarize the most compelling messaging in a social post or in a blog. Participating in a conference or event? Publicize your Twitter handle and link out to relevant content from the conference. Take photos of your office celebrations and let the world see your human face.
  9. Draw on non-experts in a field to get their POV. Sometimes it is refreshing and eye-opening to get outside reasoning and logic against some things insiders may take for granted.
  10. Start with a theme. “Be helpful” is always good form. Even something you think should be obvious could serve as a helpful reminder.
  11. Join a conversation by highlighting an article or blog post relevant to your industry on your own blog and propose additional or actionable thinking. E.g. “We agree with John Smith’s approach to X, Y, Z and this is how we’ve applied it to our industry.” This adds insight and thought leadership but keeps the company engaged real-time.
  12. Find out what people (your customers) are searching for and find a unique/shareable way to answer their questions. Infographics, apps, Facebook posts, BuzzFeed lists, etc. – something that’s easily consumable, quick to produce, and relatable to your audience. LinkedIn is also a great way to extend this strategy.

While you are scrambling to assemble all this great content, it important to remember that not all of the above shortcuts may work for your particular situation. Beyond that, it’s even more important to remember that not all content is equal or interchangeable. In planning a successful and sustainable strategy, it is critical to establish program priorities.

Balance your efforts and labor so that some content is appropriately prioritized over other types or executions depending on its ultimate place in your plans. For instance, some content is fleeting or is only seen by a small audience. While a small audience can still be critical, the investment in any content production should be commensurate to its ultimate value. Some content will reach a wider audience, drives key KPIs, maybe is more distinctive, or will be relevant for a longer period of time. Some content can be repurposed in multiple channels or executions or will be promoted to help gain broader exposure. All these factors will influence the ultimate value to you and therefore the appropriate investment level.

Are you telling your brand story with your heart? With your head? Both are fitting under different circumstances. Again, balance is key. Vary your approach as well as the mix of your content types and formats based on your plan objectives, audience preferences, and response, but also based on the outcomes you hope to achieve with each specific effort. A solid methodology and analytic rigor will help you hone in on the proper mix over time.

Marketers today require a great deal of discipline and support to create the right ongoing narrative in the increasingly interactive online environments. You’ll stay on track if you remain focused on your strategy, on audience needs, and the right value exchange in the development of your content.

Image via Shutterstock.

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