Marketing

Generating ideas for social media content

Content ideas for social - figures standing

All too often we see page owners running out of ideas for social media content, relying too much on national theme days, or trying a bit of everything without much success. Not only is the channel failing in meeting marketing objectives but this situation has the potential to damage your brand reputation.

So how do you create enough ideas for social media content to keep your feed interesting and engaging?

To keep your social media channels active and effective it’s important to generate the right content ideas that will get your marketing messages across without being too sales-focused. Social media isn’t broadcast media, it’s not about shouting until someone listens. Winning content ideas engage the reader so that they get value from the exchange – they’ll reward you with likes, content and follows.

In this second blog post of our series on social media marketing we set out how you can generate tons of ideas to use in your social feeds.

Content for a purpose

Do you tweet for every national holiday? Do you post about the weather? Does your audience care about either of those topics?

The first place to start looking for ideas is your audience. A good understanding of your audience’s needs, wants and pain points will point you towards topics they want to read about. Take time to research your audience and create an avatar or audience persona. Go beyond the normal demographic characteristics to describe how your audience behaves on and offline, how they seek information and how they buy from businesses like yours.

Secondly, what are the messages that your organisation wants to publish? What are your social media marketing objectives, and what type of content will support you in achieving those objectives? Some may be obvious, such as recruiting attendees for an event. Other topics may be more aligned to awareness raising or brand building.

Thirdly, what is happening beyond your organisation that may interest your audience? This may be developments within your industry, national theme days (use in moderation!) or news events. Ideally take a different slant than the obvious one, and make the content relevant to your business and your readers. What can you create that is original and interesting?

By aligning your content ideas to your objectives and the interests of your audience(s) you will make sure that every piece of content is a win-win situation.

Content ideas for social media on post it notes

Capturing ideas for social media content

Once you have brainstormed, how do you capture all your ideas? A traditional mind map, plan or online tools such as Maps of Mind or Padlet will allow everyone in your team to contribute and evolve ideas together.

Working as a team means that you can bounce ideas off one another, get different perspectives and generate more interesting ideas for social media content than if you were working alone. It’s also much more enjoyable to work as a team on this type of activity.

After the creative brainstorming it’s important to filter out those that aren’t aligned to your objectives – park them rather than delete them as they may become relevant in the future. Next, prioritise those that you feel will be most effective, also taking resource into consideration. You may have some great ideas that either budget or time requirements just don’t allow. You’ll end up with a list that is realistic, relevant and actionable.

Don’t worry if this seems like a short list. Even one content idea can generate a series of posts based around that theme.

Inform, Educate, Entertain, Inspire

Followers on social media platforms expect content to fulfil one of the 4 pillars above – to be informed, educated, entertained or inspired. All four are important across social media, however not all will apply for all organisations. It may be that it’s just not appropriate to take an entertaining approach to your organisation’s product or service, or there are few opportunities to inform around your subject matter.

Either way, it is important to provide your readers with at least one of the above so that they get value from the content you post. Be brutally honest with yourself and filter out content ideas that don’t meet the criteria above.

Creating a social media marketing content plan

Once all your ideas have been filtered and prioritised it’s time to create a social media marketing content plan.

This will organise your content across the days, weeks and months, and provide you with timelines by which you need to generate the creative execution. For more on the creative delivery of content see the next post in our series (to follow).

You may have a segmented plan which allows for different content delivered to each audience across different platforms. If you’re new to social media marketing we recommend keeping it simple to start with, and build up the complexity of your plan over time.

Social media content plan - post it notes on board

Copywriting for social media marketing

So how do you turn ideas for social media content into actual posts?

Copywriting for social media is a skill, as each platform has its own restrictions, character limit and user behaviours to take into account.

We’ll go into more detail on this topic in a future post, however for now we want to emphasise that content needs to be clear, credible, concise, encourage engagement but most of all – provide value to your readers.

The value exchange

As social media is based around engagement and conversation we need to make sure that all content ideas for social media platforms are providing readers with value.

We’re looking for engagement from readers – in the shape of a like, comment or share. We want readers to react to content in this way, so that we know that it is of value to them. If they scroll past your post without interacting with it we have failed. Therefore it is key for us to provide social media content that is sufficiently interesting to them that they take a minute to reward us with a response. This is the social media value exchange. We provide value, they reward us with a reaction.

In terms of importance, imagine that a ‘like’ is worth 5 points, a ‘comment’ is worth 15 points and a ‘share’ 30 points. A ‘like’ is almost a throwaway reaction, easily given, but a comment takes time and consideration. A share means an endorsement from the reader.

To get genuine reaction from readers we have to provide them with something interesting or valuable enough to put their name to it.

Asking for engagement

The most effective posts on social media ask readers to participate in some way. If you ask them for their opinion, their vote, or their memories they are far more likely to engage than if you don’t. Ask them to join in, and they are a bit less likely to scroll on past.

This tactic works particularly well for posts that are controversial or intended to stimulate debate. It’s a soft call-to-action and will draw your readers in to a conversation which is a good starting point for increased engagement in the future.

So within your post include a request for them to participate, and test a variety of approaches to see what works the best for your organisation.

For more social media marketing advice follow our series of posts on the topic.

For help with social media marketing please get in touch.

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Roisin Kirby is an experienced Marketing Consultant based in Nottingham (UK), specialising in education and services marketing. A Chartered Marketer and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

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