As such, our culture has a diminished attention span, scanning the world at large for something better than the last thing we enjoyed. In this sociological climate, how is a brand to create a continuous stream of engaging content?We all know to mine social media and any analytics at our disposal to generate ideas, but consider a few different ideas to stay at the forefront of the conversation:
Use the News
Even though the watercooler itself is now irrelevant, there is constantly “watercooler talk” happening amongst people in real life and on social media. The topics naturally sprout from what’s going on in the world today, so you too should gather topics from that same source. Not every news topic can be made relevant to your brand’s inbound content, but you have to keep your ear to the ground in order to catch the ones that are, even if only tangentially.
Say you work for a B2B IT company. When you don’t have company news or developments in your industry, then you have to mine ideas from what’s happening in the world and tie them into your brand’s inbound presence. For example:
- How Enhanced IT Could Help NFL Refs Do Their Jobs Better
- Global Tech Questions We’d Ask the Presidential Candidates
- IT and ID: Interior Design for Tech Pros
- Tech Support in Space: NASA and Their IT Issues
None of those are directly aimed at a particular client (unless your company is about to land a contract with NASA, lucky you), but have both a broad (what many others are talking about) and specific (sports, politics, design, science) appeal. These pieces can be a little more relaxed and entertaining, drawing people in because the topics are interesting or fun.
Cross industry boundaries
One thing that often stagnates inbound content is becoming too insular in scope. Your company should position itself as a thought leader in the industry and that takes some thorough dissecting of that industry’s issues and concerns. But it can be easy to get a little too ‘inside baseball’ so to speak, fixated on the meta issues of the industry while forgetting the wider world of thought happening around it.
Whatever field your company inhabits, there are effects felt from seemingly disparate others and their developments. Think about how the Department of Labor’s changes to the overtime exemption will affect companies’ accounting departments and scheduling, their need for better tracking of time through improved IT, and the increased need for communication and education from the Human Resources department.
Issues which cross industry boundaries provide new angles on old topics. Once they’ve been covered a few times with regards to what your company and its primary customers are interested in, fresh inbound content can be created by looking at how other industries are dealing with them, what they’re doing well, and what can be learned and applied to the field your company inhabits.
Create the conversation
Another idea is to bring those insular industry conversations out into the public. At work, there’s a lot of shop talk—sometimes nothing but—and a lot of it will revolve around what you’re talking about in your inbound content anyway. But in those intermittent moments when coworkers or clients are having more candid conversations about the work they’re involved in, that’s when little seedlings of content ideas can be planted.
Healthcare and healthcare marketing are good examples here—the diverse experiences healthcare professionals deal with from day to day provide a lot of interesting material (hence why there are 30 different TV shows about the crazy things that happen in hospitals) and the best stories at parties. But at the heart of the weird, wild stories are real human concerns, either as healthcare workers or from the people they’re treating.
Most other industries aren’t as good at generating stories as the world of healthcare and medicine, but there’s still something to be gleaned from the more nuanced conversations being had behind the scenes. Ask yourself and those around you in the industry:
- What social or economic trends make you annoyed, worried, or uncertain?
- What’s the most outlandish request you’ve received from a client?
- If you could change something fundamental about the industry or how it operates, what would it be?
People want to sound off about what is interesting or unnerving to them. There won’t always be gold in the answers to these questions and the sort of “puff pieces” that can come from them should be used sparingly. But properly employed, these are the types of articles that generate a lot of social sharing and conversation in both the physical and virtual worlds.