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how and where can I generate content ideas for my business?

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Content ideas may fall from the sky, but most of them are waiting for you to go looking for them

Human beings have an innate ability to keep their minds active and think of ideas of any kind. They can come spontaneously, but if we are involved in a content marketing strategy, it will be necessary to go in search of them. This generation of content ideas will be fundamental to plan the campaign, be original or take into account the needs of your potential customers.

To help you with this process, we will talk about the advantages of investing time in this active search, the steps needed to get good ideas and the two best methods to achieve it, as well as suggestions of online sites that could inspire you. Here we go!

Benefits of spending time generating content ideas

Spending hours actively looking for new content ideas helps your strategy planning - it's by no means a waste of time, as these three benefits of spending time generating ideas demonstrate:

  • it guarantees that ideas will appear that would otherwise not exist. Although some ideas may arise spontaneously and effortlessly, others need to be worked on. In this way, new content ideas will appear and, perhaps, more original and attractive to users.
  • it prevents you from facing a blank sheet of paper and having to think of an idea against the clock. If in a session to generate ideas you gather enough ideas to create content for a period of time (whether a week or a month), you will avoid problems of lack of inspiration. In this way, you will never face a blank sheet of paper because you will always have, at least, an idea to start from.
  • it allows for constant and organised growth. Idea generation is essential for planning a long-term content strategy, which makes it easier for the team involved to follow a clear direction and not forget the objectives.

Steps to finding the perfect idea

Just as there is a process for creating content, there is a process for generating ideas, and the steps to achieve this were defined by American publicist James Webb Young in his book A Technique for Producing Ideas (1940). Let's take a brief look at what they are:

  1. gather new material. Get out of your comfort zone and get inspired by cultural and specialised readings, social media trends, TV ads, photographs... Materials that can be useful for your strategy are everywhere, you just need to go in search of them and collect them. Be curious and never feel satiated by consuming new content.
  2. work with the material- once you've fed your library of material, create relationships between ideas and combine them to fit your strategy.
  3. let the material rest- you've done the work, now detach from it and let your mind digest it.
  4. when you least expect it, the final idea will be born. Like a magic trick, the ideas you've been waiting for will emerge and all you have to do is put them into practice.

This process can be carried out in two ways: on your own or working in a group. Both propose different methodologies for capturing ideas, so it is worth looking at them separately.

Generating content ideas on your own

Knowing how to manage individual work is just as important as collaborating with other colleagues, so when looking for powerful ideas for your content marketing strategy, keep these five tips in mind:

  • consider the reading habits of your target audience. Try to put yourself in the users' shoes when it comes to consuming content. What problems could you solve for them? What are the topics related to your industry that interest them the most? You can answer these questions on BuzzSumo, which allows you to check which content works best on social networks according to the searches you perform. This way, you can gather ideas by drawing inspiration from users' preferences.

  • Research your competitors' content strategy. Although not all ideas can come from analysing your competitors, it is very enriching to check what content they publish. After all, it is another way to find out what your audience is interested in so that you can talk about it and differentiate yourself from your competitors.
  • find out what your buyer personas are talking about. Use Internet forums, Quora or Facebook pages related to your sector to discover what conversations they are having and how you can incorporate them into your content. You can also check the trending topics on Twitter, both the general ones and those adapted to your activity. Who knows if current events are your greatest source of inspiration.
  • extract ideas based on SEO techniques. Through Google Analytics or Google Search Console, you can check what search terms (or queries) are used by users who visit your content. These words or phrases will give you an idea of what content your potential customers are looking for.
  • take advantage of search engine features like Google. In addition to the tools mentioned above, Google offers three services you can use to search for ideas. One is the Autocomplete feature, which suggests searches as a drop-down as you type in the navigation bar. Then there are the "related searches" at the bottom of the results page. And finally, the "other people are searching" box that appears below the result when you return to the page after visiting the site.

Generating content ideas as a group

Brainstorming in a team is a very different process than if you do it on your own. This is because it requires convening a meeting, either in person or online. The advantage is that there are a lot of thinking minds coming up with ideas that, if you follow the following recommendations, can enrich your content strategy.

  • plan the meeting: In order for the group brainstorming to be as effective as possible, it is necessary to plan the meeting in advance. In this sense, you should establish the objectives, include a moderator, write the minutes and specify the duration of the meeting so as not to waste time.
  • generate a positive working atmosphere: Before starting the round of content ideas, it would be interesting to start the meeting with a game or any other tactic that generates an atmosphere of trust. In this way, avoid immediately criticising or rejecting the ideas of others. This is essential so that all members of the meeting collaborate actively and are not afraid to express their ideas, no matter how simple they may seem.
  • incorporate braindumps: this is a short period of time (maximum three minutes) where you write down all the ideas that come up. Here, the important thing is the quantity, so you will evaluate their quality later. In fact, an idea may seem bad at first, but if you relate it to another it may be useful. Thus, if your company is a chocolate shop and you want to extract ideas, you could come up with topics such as: the best Christmas chocolates, the benefits of chocolate for health, etc. Thus, any new idea on the subject would be written down to consider its viability later on.
  • use visuals: Writing down ideas on sticky notes or a whiteboard helps to visualise the meeting and build relationships.

So when you are looking for content ideas for your marketing strategy, do it both on your own and as a team to gather a large number of quality ideas. And don't despair if the process is more complicated than you thought: ideas will come when you least expect them.

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