Content marketers are responsible for delivering relevant, timely and interesting content for the purpose of educating and entertaining their audience as well as driving web traffic and strengthening their brand. But before new content can be published, before the editing and revisions can occur, before a word has even been typed, generating topic ideas is the first job of a content marketer. The brainstorming process is an important step in any type of writing, but selecting appropriate, relevant content is especially important in marketing.
Unfortunately, constantly thinking up new topic ideas for posts can become frustrating and is one of the major pain points for content marketers. Even if you know your audience well and understand the type of content they prefer to consume, you’ll likely hit a roadblock every so often. Luckily, there are several approaches content marketers can rely on to assist in the process of finding topics to write about for their audience.
Staying Updated On Industry News
I’ve always been told that if you want to be a good writer, you need to be an avid reader. The truth of this is twofold for content marketers: reading does improve your ability to write well-structured, coherent pieces, but it also provides you with a greater reservoir of knowledge for idea generation. News and industry-related stories stimulate the brainstorming sessions that are crucial to thinking up new topics and can directly inspire certain pieces of content. Plus, industry news itself can function as excellent content for your site.
Leveraging Social Media For Content Ideas
Social media is a vast resource of information, opinions and data on consumer preferences that can be harnessed for brainstorming purposes. Content reaches a wider audience when it is shared via social media, but content marketers should view social media as more than just a tool for distribution. Facebook, Twitter and even Google+ can be goldmines when it comes to topic generation for new content.
Researching the social media activity of your target audience provides instant insight into which topics are trending and what type of news is being shared. Find out what is creating a buzz on social media and expand off of existing content by including a new perspective or analysis on a popular topic.
Repurposing Feedback As Content
As with all forms of marketing and promotion, content marketing can be improved through the analysis of customer responses and feedback. Furthermore, feedback from clients can actually be a source of inspiration for new content. The feedback received from consumers—be it positive, negative or neutral—tells content marketers which topics, issues and concerns are most important to their audience. If a client contacts you with concerns about an aspect of your service, you might consider writing a blog post discussing the issue and dispelling any myths associated with it. Another option is to start an online conversation with your audience and write featured articles on individual case studies and success stories involving your product or brand.
Revisiting Popular Topics (Oldies But Goodies)
In addition to seeking out new topic ideas through various external resources (social media, news outlets and audience feedback), it is also useful to reflect on content you’ve published in the past. Engagement metrics can reveal a lot about which type of content resonates most strongly with your target audience.
Spend some time reviewing the most successful articles in your blog’s history and find out what made those specific posts so popular. What are they about? What angle do they take? Are they controversial or do they meet audience expectations? Consider whether there is something new you can say about a topic that you’ve covered in the past that will renew its relevancy and enrich your audience’s understanding of it. You could also seek out topics similar to what your audience enjoyed in the past or respond to comments on a controversial post with an entirely new blog entry.
Remember that the Internet is saturated with blogs, articles and industry experts competing for attention. In order to make your content stand out, careful thought and planning should be put into each stage of content production, including topic generation. Industry blogs and news sources, social media, audience feedback and topics that have already proven successful are always good places for content marketers to turn for mental stimulation and writing inspiration.
About the Author
Emily is a freelance writer based in Toronto, Ontario who covers a range of topics from technology to travel. She holds a Bachelor in English Literature and Business from the University of Waterloo. No matter how many projects she is working on, Emily always finds time for baking, reading, and yoga.