This post originally appeared on Social Media Today.
Have you ever been told to go “get creative” “think bigger” etc? It can be an intimidating request, especially if thinking in that way isn’t part of your day-to-day (and it’s not for most people). However, as content marketers, it’s becoming increasingly critical to come up with fresh ideas to help you stand out from the 4.6 billion pieces of content that are produced daily.
Okay, in reality, you’re probably competing for mindshare among a much smaller, more targeted audience, especially if you’re a B2B marketer. But, the competition for eyeballs is only going up, no matter how you slice it.
Here's a list of six ideas that I’ve found useful when trying to think up new content concepts. Some of them might seem obvious, but I tend to like them for their relative immediacy. Sometimes you don’t have time to read a book or talk to a mentor. You need a good idea - like, now.
1. Read About your Industry
Creative ideas can certainly be sparked from what other companies are doing, and there’s no shame in getting inspiration from someone else and putting your own spin on it.
Take the time to set up a Feedly account with all of the blogs and news outlets relevant to your industry. This enables you to easily scan headlines and first paragraphs, which is an efficient way to absorb a lot of information in one go. And, don’t limit yourself. Even though I’m a B2B marketer, I love reading about big consumer campaigns and thinking about how to apply some of this creativity to what I’m doing.
2. Read about Pop Culture
If you’re only reading business and marketing blogs, your outlook can, at times, get a bit narrow. If you don’t know why the lemon emoji had a moment, shame on you.
Tapping into the latest trends in pop culture and making them relevant to your audience can make your brand appear approachable and dialed in, when done right.
You can go all-in with a campaign like Everstring’s “Between Two Dragons,” which coincided with the start of Game of Thrones, Season 6, or you can test the waters on social media or on your blog with some fun and timely GIFs.
I also love how MarketingProfs played into the ever popular #squadgoals hashtag for their latest eBook.
3. Tap into Twitter and BuzzSumo
Both are great tools for content marketers. I have a number of lists that I’ve curated on Twitter in order to get a snapshot of what influential people in my industry are talking about at any given moment, and I take a break from whatever I’m doing several times a day to check on these lists - it’s a great way to discover new content, get ideas or learn something new.
If you’re not using Buzzsumo, you should. There’s a small monthly fee for the pro version, which is definitely worth it. It’s a great way to see what content is popular around the terms/phrases relevant to your business. And you can easily see who’s writing the content, should you choose to engage.
4. Brainstorm - in Person or Virtually
I used to work for a large PR agency and something they were very good at was bringing together people of all experience levels and disciplines (quickly) to have a brainstorm on behalf of a client. Sometimes in-house marketing teams get so focused on their respective jobs that they don’t come together enough to tap into the brainpower of the larger group.
If you need an idea quickly, consider doing a mini #brainstorm session on Slack, or whatever collaboration tool you use. We have an informal “marketing chit-chat” Slack channel for our team at Invoca where we have virtual brainstorms and share inspiring articles, videos etc.
5. Work in a Coffee Shop
Okay this one is simple -- and I do it a lot, especially when I am writing. Sit near a window, put your phone away and get in a different zone. The ideas will come -- usually.
6. Attend Meet-ups and Events
Whenever I get the opportunity to get out of the office and attend events, I’m so glad. Learning first hand about what others are doing in your industry can spark all kinds of ideas of what to do, as well a what to avoid. If you’re on the fence about an event, or not sure what you’ll learn, my advice would be to just go and see what you get from it.
Check Meetup for events in your area, and/or start engaging in online forums like Inbound.org or GrowthHackers.