When you are creating content, you may run out of inspiration, or wonder whether the ideas you have are good enough. In this post, I’ll share some tips to help you get through these moments.
What Makes a Great Content Idea?
It’s not always possible to predict whether a piece of content will do well but there are certain characteristics that can make it more likely to succeed. Asking yourself the following questions about your content idea will help you decide whether it is worth pursuing.
1. Is it solving a problem?
Creating content that people find valuable is one of the best ways to win over an audience.
If your content provides people with information they can use, they are much more likely to engage with it. Aim to answer questions for your customers and help them overcome challenges they are facing.
You may be able to simplify a complex idea or share industry specific knowledge others might find useful. For example, the DIY store B&Q has a comprehensive step-by-step guide to tiling, complete with a buyer’s guide.
2. Does it tell a story?
Stories help bring facts to life and are a memorable way of communicating an idea. If you can help inform or educate people by sharing the story of an experience you had you are more likely to hold their attention.
The best stories evoke an emotional response and are honest – so don’t be scared to open up occasionally. In an interview with Contently, Tom Kellner, the editor-in-chief of GE Reports, shared how storytelling helped him create one of the most successful brand magazines. He said: “I basically ignored press releases, and focused 100 percent on storytelling. My stories have real protagonists who are trying to solve real problems and reach real outcomes.”
3. Is there a human angle?
No matter what industry you are in, if you can create content that involves real people it is much more likely to be compelling than presenting stark facts. For example, if you are writing about the benefits of a particular product you sell, give examples of how it has helped people. This will make it much more likely to resonate with others.
The University of Phoenix used the inspirational story of footballer Larry Fitzgerald to promote their online courses. They showed how the flexibility of their courses allowed him to complete his degree while being a parent and travelling.
4. Is it presented in a compelling format?
How you present your information matters. It can help you grab people’s attention and make complex ideas digestible. For instance, infographics are great for presenting data, while some information is easier to explain in the form of images, video or interactive content.
According to the video marketing technology company Eyeview, including a video on a landing page can help boost conversions by 80%.
5. Are you focussing on the customer rather than yourselves?
It is easy to get wrapped up in the intricacies of your business and forget that your customers may not care about such details as much as you do. Their number one priority is what you can do for them. So, try not to constantly share company updates that may not matter to other people and avoid creating content that is purely self serving because customers will see it for what it really is. If your content is always promoting products, it might be time to rethink your approach because people don’t visit websites to be sold to!
6. Is it entertaining?
You may feel like entertaining people is not your speciality but that doesn’t mean you have to stick to creating purely functional content. Inspirational, humorous or thought provoking pieces are all worthwhile. As long your content idea is relevant to your business in some way, you can share something purely because it is entertaining.
It doesn’t hurt to show your personality either and opening up about what you care about can help build a rapport with your customers because you will appear more human to them. Be sure to make a judgement about what is appropriate for your business and brand identity and make sure you know your customers’ personas well enough not to risk alienating them.
Ikea had phenomenal success by using humour when they launched their 2014 catalogue. The video has been viewed more than 18 million times and if you’ve not seen it yet, it’s worth watching!
7. Does it have a unique angle?
Coming up with a completely original idea is one of the hardest parts of content ideation but you can at least give things your own spin. You may have a unique take on a particular subject, or even if your idea isn’t original, you could present it better than everyone else.
Perhaps you could create the most comprehensive guide on a topic, or a myth busting piece of content that will stand out by offering a different point of view.
8. Is it timely or topical?
Your content calendar should include some ideas that are relevant to particular events in the year. Keep up with trends in your industry and the wider world so you can create content when you spot the opportunity to contribute to an ongoing conversation.
9. Is it similar to something that’s worked for you before?
You may already have the answer to what kind of content works for your business – you simply need to look at how successful your previous efforts have been. Has a piece of content been shared widely or received lots of comments? Learn from what has already done well for you and identify whether there are certain elements or themes you can replicate.
10. Are you creating content for a specific well defined customer persona?
Whatever content you are creating, it helps to have a clear idea of who you are writing for. That way you can make sure your content is pitched at the right level. It will help you decide whether you need to go back to basics when you are explaining something, or if you can assume some level of knowledge. If you speak to your customers on their level, they will be more likely to take note of what you have to say.
Finding Content Ideas Within Your Business
So, now you know how to assess your ideas, how do you find them in the first place?
We have already written about some of the content ideation tools you can use, so this time I’ll focus on an often untapped source of content ideas – your colleagues! After all, these are the people who are involved with the ins and outs of your business, so failing to engage with them could mean you miss some obvious content ideas.
Some key colleagues to speak to for ideas include:
- Customer service – These are the people who speak directly to your customers, so they are bound to have indispensable insights into your business. Ask them what are the most common complaints or questions customers have and aim to create content to help with this. Your customers will be grateful if you can give them an instant answer, rather than making them pick up the phone, or write an email. And you may just make life easier for your colleagues too!
- Sales teams – Ultimately, your content is a form of marketing, so you want to add value to your business by helping create more sales. Rather than guessing how you can do this, go directly to the people who are responsible for sales and ask them what you can do to help. Is there a particular piece of information that would help them close a sale? Do they get asked certain questions repeatedly? Perhaps they need more case studies in a particular sector, which they can share with prospective clients. Or, creating a video to show how a particular product works could help people make a decision about buying from you.
- Leadership team – The content you create needs to align with your business goals, so make sure you speak to your leadership team to understand what these are. They may also have ideas for thought leadership articles, since they will know your sector well and will be able to help spot emerging trends and talking points.
- Social media team – Like your customer service team, they speak directly to your customers. This means they can give you insights into what your customers and sector are talking about.
Begin Your Journey to Content Success
I’ve covered numerous elements that make a great piece of content and you may find that some of these work better for you than others. By trying a variety of ideas and measuring your results you’ll soon become more confident at creating effective pieces of content!