You pour your heart into your blog posts and share them profusely. You concoct engaging questions and witticisms and post them to your fans and followers. You even mention/share/plus/tweet/promote other people.
And yet there are still sooooo many empty days and hours and so many social channels to post to!
Where’s a sane person supposed to find all this content, and moreover, find it while staying sane?
Fear not, tireless marketer! Finding great content is less about wracking your brain or being on a constant creative high and more about simply knowing where to look. Here are enough ideas to keep you busy filling up those Buffers or queues or what have you, so that you’ll have a stream of new content that will make you look like a marketing genius.
1. Read The News Headlines
Notice I didn’t say read the news.
There’s plenty of it out there, so scanning the headlines will suffice to start. Only pause on those that sound really interesting even if that’s only one in a hundred. Believe me, you won’t run out and you don’t have to get bogged down in a billion news stories to find a few gems.
When you hit on a headline you like, then read the story. Or, more accurately, peruse enough of it to get the point and to find out if it’s worth sharing.
Find a story that will work? Grab the headline, or grab a quote that you particularly liked, or spin it into a question or opinion of your own.
In recent news… the cell phone just turned 40. If you want to be more interesting than a headline, infuse your personality into it: Where were you when the cell phone was born? Pop in a link and you’re good to go.
2. Join A Blogging Community
Again, no shortage here.
As a side bonus, these are great ways to promote your blog, but you can also find a wealth of content to share. Find people and categories within your industry and follow the scan/discard/wait, stop!/peruse/share method above.
3. Subscribe To A Million Billion Zillion Blogs And Websites
You can do this via email or RSS.
If you do it via email, I strongly suggest you set up a filter so all your subscriptions go to one place and that’s not your inbox. Otherwise you’ll probably end up unsubscribing out of sheer frustration.
I prefer RSS (in a post-Google-Reader world I’ve gravitated toward Feedly) because I can subscribe to a slew of blogs and sites and then scan/discard/etc/etc to my heart’s content.
There are thousands of items in my RSS feed at any given time and instead of being overwhelming it just means I won’t run out of ideas.
4. Create A Dedicated Twitter List
Find leaders and “celebrities” in your industry and add them to your list. Find people who share relevant (and interesting) content and add them to your list. You can add up to 500 people to a Twitter list and I suggest you max it out!
Remember, the point is not to read every single darn tweet. The point is to scan for sharable content.
If you follow interesting people, you get a bonus, too – they’re more likely to be interesting, that is, not just to share other people’s interesting content. You may find yourself drawn into a conversation or just enjoying someone’s opinion or humor. When that happens, use it!
5. Collect Questions
The hardest thing about doing this is remembering to do this.
Every time a customer asks you a question… every time you see one on Twitter or Facebook… every time someone asks one in a comment… even when one pops randomly into your head… write it down.
Mine Quora and your LinkedIn and Facebook groups for questions that people ask. If you see a lot of engagement on a question, even better – it means it’s something that captures people’s attention. You can “borrow” those questions and spin them for your audience.
Questions can be rhetorical – I wonder what life would be like if we could all eat cupcakes for breakfast?
Or literal – How do you gather content for your social networks?
Asking questions gives you content in and out – first, the question itself, then the answers, which you can deliver as content by themselves!
6. Play With Stock Photos
They’re mostly boring and cliché but that can be half the fun.
I’ve seen plenty of people use that to their advantage and turn an otherwise generic photo into a bit of entertainment with a little novice Photoshop work or a clever caption. They’re pretty inexpensive so you can stock up on a few and then use your imagination.
Better yet, have a captioning contest with your audience just for fun. Self-replicating content!
7. Check Out Alltop
Alltop is a content collector’s playground. Pick a category and go.
The content here tends to be a little better quality than your average blog search so the scan/discard/keep going approach may be thwarted by an interesting headline about every two seconds or so.
8. Mine Your Blog Comments
You may respond to every single comment you get but if that’s all you’re doing, you could be missing a huge opportunity.
I’ve turned blog comments into entire blogs.
You can think smaller, too, and turn questions, comments, interesting statements or opinions into snippets of content that you can share. Mention the commenter and you’re adding a bonus layer of community building.
9. Have An Opinion
But it doesn’t even have to be a whole blog post. It can be a short opinion or a series of opinions on a particular topic.
Google’s advice to “build a great site” is getting old. Nobody I know sets out to build a bad one. Does this advice drive you as nuts as me?
There. Content in a rant. (And in exactly 140 characters!)
The next time something bugs you, have at it. Likewise if you come across a great new idea, share your opinion on that, too. If people disagree, all the better. More content.
10. Google It
Start with words like “top”, “best”, “biggest”, “worst” and insert some keyword related to your industry.
For example, I Googled “top marketing questions” and the first listing that came up was from the Content Marketing Institute.
Question 12: Do I have to be on Facebook and Twitter?
The answer doesn’t matter. I can turn that into content in 2 ways:
1. As a question: Do you think it’s important for a company or brand to be on Facebook? (I get a two-fer because I can ask a separate one about Twitter. Or how about a third about Pinterest? Or…)
2. As an opinion/statement: Not every company and brand needs a Facebook page. Find out where your audience is and invest your time there.
I also tried “top marketing tips” and “biggest marketing challenges”. Plenty of people have created plenty of content. All you need to do is find it and let it jog your creative juices.
11. Collect Your Favorite Quotes
There are entire websites dedicated to listing and categorizing quotes. While not particularly creative (I don’t advocate a Twitter feed or Facebook page full of someone else’s quotes) they’re good for filler and occasional inspiration or humor.
Bookmark some of those sites or pull out your Evernote and start collecting.
Combine quotes with photos for even more interest.
12. Get Out Your Camera
Do you constantly find your cat curled up on your keyboard in various states of repose?
Is there that one guy at the office who’s always leaving his eyeglasses in odd places?
Is Friday pancake day? (It totally is here!)
Those kinds of things just scream Instagram, Pinterest board, Facebook album.
You don’t need to be hosting an event or showing off a new product to find fun photos. Part of being social is… well, being social. Use photos to put a face on your business in a fun way. I promise you, people will love peeking into your life.
The great thing about trying these ideas is that you don’t have to dedicate huge chunks of your day to “curating content”. Once you practice a little, and start to develop a content mindset, you’ll find yourself naturally collecting and creating content based on every conversation you have, every post you read, every Google search and question and comment.
Put a little time into creative collecting and before you know it, people will start asking you how you do it. Bask in their envy for a while – you deserve it! And when you’re done, how about sending them over here to get a few ideas, too?
Do you have any other super secret ways to gather content? Let me know!