If you only produce a blog a week, update your social channels on an occasional basis or bash out the odd email newsletter, it sounds like you're stuck in a content rut – and it's high time you got out of it.
Offering the same content, and using the same processes to come up with ideas, can result in stale stuff that offers little value to your users. So if your content activity hasn't quite got off to a whizz-bang start in 2014, here are 11 ideas to help you freshen up your act by developing a culture of content that runs right the way through your business...
1. Start talking about content
Sound obvious? Maybe, but how often do you as a team sit down and talk about content marketing? You probably already have a weekly meeting where you discuss your day-to-day plans for the week ahead. Broaden the focus a little here: brainstorm ideas for future projects, talk about what’s going on in the wider content marketing sphere, review your overarching strategy, check out what your rivals are up to...
2. Develop a content vision
Creating a statement that defines what you stand for as a content brand can help embed content in your thinking and guide your team in producing great work. You could come up with a single statement or slogan, or even a set of content principles and values – say, 10 core things that you want to strive to achieve through your content.
3. Try out a new content format
If your current output is a couple of blogs a week and a long feature once every couple of months, why not shake things up a bit and expand your remit? There’s a whole host of content marketing formats you can work with – our recent posts on the value of the ebook and what makes a great infographic are good starting points.
Sometimes thinking of a new format can generate ideas for new content. Say you were thinking of creating some talking-head videos – who’d make a good interviewee in your organisation? What would they talk about?
4. Produce a content case study
Maybe you know how many hits your blog gets and you keep track of the number of retweets you get every week. But if that’s about as much as you know about the impact of your content, think about researching an internal case study so you can show people inside your business just how effective your content is.
See what other metrics are available, talk to your salespeople about how they use your content, interview customers about what they make of it. You’ll end up with a report you can show to senior management, helping secure investment for future projects.
5. Run a job swap project
Roll out a job swap initiative that sees members of the team work with someone in a different part of your organisation to get a perspective on what they do. You’ll quickly find speaking to in-house experts is a great way to come up with fresh ideas for future content.
6. Keep your eyes open and think laterally
Don’t be afraid to take apparently throwaway ideas and turn them into something real and usable. An example: one lunchtime last year one of our regular contributors sent us a picture of a gremlin he’d managed to craft out of a passion-fruit. Good disposable fun, we thought. But then we realised we were coming up to Friday 13th, we had a client who liked quirky stuff – et voila, a new piece of content was born.
7. Use the passion and knowledge of non-content people
All around your business, there are people brimming with passion and knowledge on a wide range of topics that could provide grist for your content mill.
Let’s say you’re a car insurance provider wanting a history of classic cars and you know a girl in HR who’s just mad about vintage motors. Why not make use of her lovely photos? Or you’re a small beauty company and one of your sellers works part-time as an aromatherapist – why not encourage her to offer some holistic beauty tips and ideas for the company blog?
You might not have had these people down as content people, but why should that stop you? As well as giving you more material and ideas, it helps to get everyone thinking about content as something that applies not just to your team but across your company.
8. Look at what’s going on in a completely different industry
While you probably keep an eye on what sort of content your competition is producing, you can learn lots by looking further afield. Checking out companies in a completely different industry can be a very effective way to generate new ideas.
Get everyone on the team to look at content marketing relating to a completely different business sector. Each choose a business that has something in common with yours – long sales cycles, perhaps, or a similar business model. Look for what works content-wise, then see how that could be applied to what you do.
9. Make content part of your induction and recruitment process
One way to embed content in your company is to make it a part of your recruitment and induction processes. Regardless of the role, ask candidates what they know about content marketing and whether they’ve had any experience of planning or creating content before. It’ll help introduce new people to the importance of content in your organisation – and you may discover some valuable new volunteers for your content operation.
10. Create an ideas board
To help spark creative thinking, introduce a fun ideas board – a place on a prominent wall somewhere where people can stick up Post-it notes, cuttings, quotes, pictures... Encourage people to stick up things that have intrigued or interested them – they don’t need to be directly relevant to your business. It’s funny how often one seemingly random idea sparks another, really useful one.
11. Consider new job titles
Do your content people have job titles that don’t really reflect what they do? Are they called something with ‘PR’ or ‘Comms’ or ‘Seo’ in the title, when really their main role is to plan and produce content? If so, think about overhauling your job title infrastructure. Think head of content, content strategists, content marketers, content editors...