When you’re fresh out of ideas, try these fresh ideas out.
1. Review + Commentary
Case studies feel like so much work! Start off with something smaller.
Extract a few key lines from one of your customer reviews or testimonials and make that the focus of a quick post. Then elaborate on that main point with commentary.
Did you know: 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations?
A review presented by the brand is by its nature more partial than one from a third party. But as far as what a brand can be presenting to its audience, there might be nothing better than a review with a story.
The customer undoubtedly mentions a feature, benefit, or feeling related to her success. What led up to that? What was the central challenge that had to be overcome in order to achieve that success? Sustained success for this customer will occur how?
2. Email Exchange
Call this little cocktail “The Politician’s Nightmare”.
Grabbing just any email exchange and transcribing it into a blog post would be a TERRIBLE idea! It will either be too boring and get you nowhere, or too revelatory and get you fired. And yet, consider: email is a forum in which your subject matter experts are comfortable writing, a forum that doesn’t feel like work. Offer up a very specific prompt to a select group, and let them know that it will be adapted into a post. Worst case: you have a thoughtful internal discussion. Best case: you’ve just created the meat of an insightful content piece with diverse perspectives.
Need a prompt? Use the next idea…
3. The Last Problem You Solved
Pretend your computer screen is your manager in a status meeting: what was the last problem you solved or project you finished? Now pretend he/she is one of those hard-to-please types. It won’t suffice to mutter through a few lines like a kid answering his mom on how his school day was; you’re going to sell the heck out of that story. Once you’ve extracted what’s compelling and useful, the hard part is kind of over, right?
Example: UpWord’s Alex Bourret and Greg Smith had to tinker with Google Tag Manager for a while in order to get what they wanted out of it. Once they did, that was valuable information. They had what everyone else wants: a step-by-step on how to get the most out of something while expending the least amount of time. Thus was born Why We Love Google Tag Manager V2.
If you’ve solved a problem recently, chances are you’ve got the makings of a blog post. If you haven’t….chances are you should get on that.
4. The Worst Feeling You’ve Had (or that a customer has had)
Focus on the point right before the brand you represent steps into the life of the customer. In what state do we find our poor customer? Maybe she’s feeling helpless, lost, confused, stressed, or any other host of emotions. That feeling can be the focus of the content, a dragon wreaking havoc on the villagers before the solution arrives to save the day. The key is to be relatable. I have to be in the right (and rare) frame of mind to read about software, but I’ll always give a look to something that articulates my feelings back at me and suggests a way to improve them.
Beyond a simple attention grab, appeals to emotion can change a reader’s mood and alter how the reader thinks about a problem. In his book Thank You For Arguing, rhetoric expert Jay Heinrichs reminds us that stimulating an audience’s emotions is the first step in getting them to act.
5. Conversation Aggregation
Just made this term up. Kind of a mouthful, but we remember rhymes better.
You could cite and/or embed content from other channels as a jumping off point, then add commentary of your own…
— Jeff Bullas (@jeffbullas) October 16, 2015
Kickstart your editorial calendar with these 10 ideas from Social Media Examiner. http://t.co/gbEiMOyBSi
— G3 Communications (@Group3Raleigh) February 10, 2015
Or you could find the questions being asked and answer them…
Google Autocomplete suggests that there is a volume around certain questions.
A Reddit question comes from a single user, but like your teacher used to tell you in school: if one student’s asking a question, chances are it’s on the minds of many. In sum, your brain might be empty of ideas, but the Internet will never be.
Nobody wants to live in a world where content comes from a formula. So let’s not think of this as formula, but as focus. If any of these 5 ideas can focus your energy toward what’s important – the story, the customer, and the value you’re trying to add by introducing one to the other – then you’re off and running in a direction you otherwise might not have seen.
Related Content: “Showing Users Why They Should Care About Your Brand”