How to Brainstorm Content Ideas for Social Media

Simon Orgulan
6 minutes
January 12, 2024

The right content can either make or break your social media marketing strategy. Ideally, you should post something new every day to remind your audience that you're still around and get them coming back to check out what you’re up to.

But the problem is, inspiration can be an elusive beast. On some days, your creative mind functions like a well-oiled machine, on others, it feels like staring into a blank piece of paper without a clue on how to proceed. If only there was a switch you could flip inside your mind to activate your creative powers on demand…

Hold on to that thought for a second – there might be something that will get you as close as possible and solve your creativity roadblock hurdles along the way. In fact, we may have 9 possible remedies for your problem. So get everybody out of the room, concentrate, and take some notes, because what we’re about to reveal could transform the way you brainstorm content for your next social media post and all that are yet to be published!

1. Check the competitors

This should always be your go-to method. Remember: as you’re coming up with the perfect idea for your next post, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Instead, you should be aiming for what’s already proven to be working for others and putting your own spin on it.

So where to begin? Simply make a list of your competitors and write down their social media channels with the corresponding URLs. Then, go through their posts one by one and take screenshots if necessary upon noticing something that stands out to you.

For obvious reasons, you shouldn’t copy their posts word-per-word. What you could do, however, is come up with something similar that conveys the same message or gives the same vibe. In case there’s some cool imagery attached to it, you can always try to find something similar to attach to your own posts on Pixabay and other creative commons images sites.

While scouring your competitors’ posts for inspiration, it’s easy to fall into the trap of honing in on a single social media channel like Facebook. Why not check all of them while you’re at it? It’s entirely feasible to go through a Twitter account, for instance, and convert what you’ve learned into a longer format suitable for Facebook and other social media (and vice-versa).

In content creation, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel – people are looking for your unique perspective on things that may not necessarily be original themselves.

2. Capitalize on seasonal trends

During holidays and special occasions, seasonal content tends to do well. When it’s winter, for example, try to think of Christmas-themed content that resonates with your audience. Simply check what your competition is doing or try to find the connection between the seasonal cheer and whatever niche you’re operating in.

Don’t forget there’s likely a myriad of holiday hashtags you could be attaching to your content so it can be found and noticed easier. Depending on the social media platform you’re active on, the exact step-by-step research process may be different, but at the bare-bones level, the basic principle is the same across all of them.

Note that there’s a streamlined way of automating this, as manually researching what hashtags are trending and relevant to your niche can be a daunting task. Here, you’ll find a video that explains how quick and simple this is in Ocoya, a popular social media management and content creation tool:

If you’re going to be capitalizing on the seasonal trends strategy, it makes sense to prepare your content in advance, not when half of the season is already over. The good news is, if you’re super lazy, you can only do this once and then repurpose it the next year (with minimal work and tweaks).

Try to somehow tie your content to whatever products or services you’re selling. If your company is selling Christmas trees, for example, you should never run out of ideas. But even if it’s something completely unrelated (such as selling VPN software), try to think of ways how your products can make life easier for others during this particular season (in this example: to bypass geo-blocking restrictions so you can stream your movies from another country).

‘Tis the season to capitalize on #holidayvibes.

3. Turn to your swipe folder

A swipe folder is your own personal collection of headlines and content ideas that are proven to work. With a little bit of thought, these can be re-used multiple times as long as you’re willing to approach the subject matter from a slightly different angle.

In fact, every marketer should have one because it shortens the time necessary to come up with killer content ideas that are based on a well-performing structure either you or someone else has tested in the past. To give you a rough idea, a swipe folder contains fill-in-the-blanks formulas for title and content creation such as:

- Proven ways to achieve X (in Y days or less)

- X tips for those who suffer from Y

- What [INDUSTRY] won’t tell you about Y

- X common mistakes when doing Y

- etc.

Resorting to your swipe folder will also keep your mind from straying away too far and keep you focused on the task at hand, which is to come up with content that draws people in and converts them into loyal customers. So instead of reinventing the wheel, you will stay within reliable concepts and approach them from a unique angle that’s geared towards the situation at hand.

Naturally, your swipe folder will get bigger over time. The longer you’re into marketing on social media, the more content and formulas you’ll be inclined to jot down inside. You can also proactively work on expanding it by purposely searching for these and download them from other successful marketers. Sometimes, they’re willing to let them go in exchange for signing onto their email list.

A swipe file is a marketer’s most treasured possession.

4. Come up with relevant recurring themes

- What is your company about?

- What market needs does it address?

- How does it serve your audience?

These questions should invoke a thought spiral all on their own. If, for example, you’re doing counseling, you can write about how great it is to have access to a counselor in a time of need. Or perhaps how one can help you work through a personal struggle or crisis.

Once you have a list of these, it’s easy to approach the same subject from a different angle. “How a counselor can help you”, for instance, can easily be turned into “how hard it can be to persevere through life’s struggles without one”. Then, you only need to think of subtopics or anything related to it that comes to mind.

5. Map out your thoughts

Everyone has heard the concept of mind maps, especially during their student years. Now when it’s finally time to become a master of social media marketing and skyrocket your sales, you should consider revisiting this tried and true method of visualizing ideas.

But how will it make your life easier in practice? With the help of mind mapping, you draw a mind chart that helps you discover subtopics related to a general keyword. So if it makes sense to include it and the subtopic is something your readers will be interested in, you should probably do so.

The beauty of this method is that it makes it easier to see the relationships between different topics and subtopics.

For example, let’s say the main topic is ‘marketing’. From there, you will create several other subtopics such as ‘social media marketing’, ‘video marketing’, ‘inbound marketing’ and so on. Then, we can dive even deeper into micro niches like ‘best software for social media marketing’ or ‘the golden principles of creating a highly converting landing page’. Feel free to go as deep as you want!

There are many mind mapping tools out there, so you’re essentially spoiled for choice. If you need a suggestion, check out what XMind can do. And for discovering what questions people commonly ask on a particular topic, Answerthepublic is a splendid tool for the purpose.

Mind maps. Learn them, love them, use them!

6. Ask your audience

Do you have a newsletter? Ask your subscribers to send their ideas in. This way, you get to kill two birds with one stone – not only will they willingly take some of the workload off your shoulders, they will also be delighted to know that someone is listening to them and willing to honor their wishes. If you don’t have an email list, don’t worry! Simply use whatever communication channel you’ve already built up (Facebook or Youtube, for example, will do just fine).

For this to work better, you should ideally have invested some time into developing and nurturing a relationship with your audience. But if you’ve been diligent with your posting and your social media posts are written with the intention of educating and enlightening your audience, you’re on a good start. If not, you now know how to progress moving forward.

At any rate, the bottom line is this: having a way to get in touch with your audience is more powerful than you can imagine. If you can prove to your fans that you care about them and aren’t just trying to sell something to them all the time (although there’s nothing wrong with doing it from time to time), they will be happy to tell you exactly what they want. Then, all that remains is for you to deliver.

Out of content ideas? Ask the people!

7. Engage your team

If you’re working with an in-house team, get their creative juices flowing and put their minds to a good use by having them help you come up with an amazing social media content plan. As the old saying goes, two heads are better than one!

Please know that’s it’s completely fine that not every team member will be equally talented in all areas and you may find that some have a more active imagination than others. Not only is it normal, it’s even desirable – that way, the whole crew can benefit from each other’s strengths. Perhaps you might even find someone on your team is particularly skilled at generating content ideas, in which case it makes sense to ask for their help more often (just make sure they’re properly compensated/rewarded for their effort).

In the unlikely event that no one on your team seems to be any good at it (or you simply don’t have a team at the moment), don’t get discouraged quite yet! There’s always the option to outsource the parts of your business you’re not that good at, and there’s no shame in doing so. Thanks to the collective freelancing community at Fiverr and similar marketplaces, chances are you’ll find your go-to guy or gal who specializes in brainstorming content ideas exclusively.

There is strength in numbers and when it comes to brainstorming, more heads are better than one.

8. Step away from the computer

Sometimes, the best moments of inspiration come to you when you step away from your computer and take a little break. In this state of mind, even though you’re not actively trying to find the solution to a problem, your brain will passively process the issue in the back of your mind and keep chipping away at it in your subconscious.

How many times have people experienced groundbreaking revelations while doing something completely unrelated such as taking a shower, taking the dog for a walk, or driving down the highway? The human mind works in unexpected ways indeed. And now that you realize it, you can intentionally set up situations in your life for this phenomenon to happen.

Great ideas are often born from a mind that wanders.

9. Auto-generate content

Last but not least, thanks to technological advancements observed in recent years, we also have another option that was nothing but a sci-fi dream not too long ago. And the idea is to auto-generate content using specialized AI-powered algorithms.

In essence, when using one of these AI tools, you enter a general keyword, give the software some basic instructions, and it will write a 100% unique article on that topic that’s completely humanly readable (maybe you’ll want to give it a couple of tweaks before publishing though).

Let’s briefly take a look at how Ocoya implements Travis AI to make this as simple as possible (and no, you don’t need to be a tech whiz to use it).

First, navigate to the app’s main menu and find Travis AI in the sidebar to the left:

Then, select the content form you’re looking for (either short-form or long-form) and scroll down through the options until you find a suitable one. For the purpose of this example, we’ll be generating content ideas for Twitter.

Next, enter your product or brand name and provide a short description.

Click the Generate button, sit back, and watch the magic unfold.

The results are ready-to-post tweets you can either use as inspiration, fiddle around with for a bit, or take as they are.

See how easy it is?

With the help of AI tools like these, not only will you get plenty of topic ideas from the auto-generated ideas, you’ll also have a decently written piece of content to publish as is (or at least some excerpts from it). With this method, the only potential obstacle is the fact that most of the good ones you’ll find are paid tools. But depending on your overall social media marketing strategy, they might be worth the investment.

AI-powered content generating robots? Welcome to the future!

These 9 proven methods on how to brainstorm content ideas for your social media marketing campaigns should be more than enough to get the ball rolling. And the best thing about it is that you are by no means limited to using one exclusively. So get inspired by all the ideas and concepts we’ve shared with you today and may you devise the perfect way to unlock an unlimited amount of content ideas and thus create your own trusty method you can reuse time and time again.

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