A strong content strategy is at the heart of all successful digital marketing campaigns. But good content requires good ideas, and these aren’t always easy to come by. How do you come up with a topic and an angle for the content, that is as original, relevant, and interesting as possible?
The key lies in the ideation process.
What is content ideation and why is it important?
Content ideation is the process that births ideas for a content strategy and digital marketing campaign. Put simply, it’s the process of coming up with ideas for new content, that will then be created and presented to the target audience.
It’s a vital step of content creation, in which you can brainstorm different possible topics and angles until you come up with a final idea. The ideation session is your chance to think about the potential of different proposals put forward, as well as their flaws. This will ensure your final choice is a strong content plan that will engage the audience while meeting your marketing objectives.
But why is content ideation so important?
Well, other than the fact you need an idea for content before you can create said content…Here are the benefits of having dedicated time allocated to ideation:
- It allows the team to strategise content ahead of time, leading to higher quality, more cohesive marketing.
- It allows ideas to grow so they’re the best version of themselves.
- It ensures content creation, business goals, and marketing plans, all line up.
- It saves time long term. The more developed an idea is, the less time you spend on mistakes during content creation.
Setting up an ideation session
There is no ‘right way’ to set up an ideation session, as different things work for different people, depending on what helps them get creative.
When setting up your ideation, here are some of the things you should consider:
Are you creating a group brainstorming session or individually sourcing ideas and then comparing them? Focusing on ideas for one topic or ideating for various topics all at once? Thinking about the methodology will set clear guidelines for your team members, so everyone is on the same page.
What helps you think? Some prefer to have a full day of ideating in the office, while others come up with their best ideas while out on a walk. Consider the environment you’re brainstorming in, and if you’re feeling mentally blocked, change the pace.
It can be helpful to track the different ideas on a spreadsheet, where you can add extra information as needed. However, there are other tools that can help with coming up with the right ideas. AnswerThePublic can be used for creating content ideas based on keywords, and HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator is good for sparking blog post ideas. Google Search and Google Trends are also invaluable tools for the ideation process.
Some people need more time than others when it comes to ideating. It can be beneficial to schedule enough time to let the ideas sit before the winning one is chosen, as it will allow for extra angles to be developed.
Coming up with ideas: our top tips
Content ideation can be hard, especially when you can’t seem to find any good ideas that haven’t been done before. It can be pretty frustrating, and sometimes you end up wanting to bang your head against a wall, in the hopes it will somehow reset your thought process.
To save you the headache, here are some of our top tips:
Brainstorm with other team members
Two brains are better than one, but with three you stand an even better chance of thinking something up. Content ideation usually works better when it’s done as a group so that you can bounce ideas off of others. If everyone pitches in with a bad idea, eventually it will spark something good!
Research what competitors and industry news
Researching the content competitors are putting out, and seeing what ranks well, is one of the biggest ways to help narrow down the type of ideas that are more likely to be successful, which is a huge boost to the ideation process.
It’s equally beneficial to look at up-to-date industry news, as it will help spark ideas within the relevant topics. Relating your content to the industry news can also turn your business into a point of reference, providing you with better authority.
Look at what’s trending
Check social media, as well as the general news, and find out what people are talking about. Aligning your content to topics that are trending will instantly help it gain traction, providing you with valuable brand exposure. The downside of trends is that they can move on pretty quickly, so they’re not a great thing to look at if you’re ideating for a long-term content plan.
Run ideas by uninvolved people
You know how sometimes you need to take a step back to see the whole picture? Well, sometimes people that aren’t directly involved with the ideation can connect different thought processes to spark an idea that you couldn’t quite piece together yourself. Brainstorming with people you trust from other departments or outside the business can help if you’re struggling.
Aim to provide answers
Content that provides information your target audience is asking about has a higher chance of doing well. It can be helpful to Google search the topic in question, and click on the ‘people also ask’ to come up with potential ideas.
Roleplay as your target audience
When coming up with an idea it’s not enough to think about what you’re interested in. It’s important to put yourself in your audience’s shoes, as the idea will ultimately be marketed to them.
Ask your target audience what they want
If you regularly engage with your audience, and you have ways of communicating with them (such as opening up polls, questionnaires, comments, etc.) then why not ask them what kind of content they want to see? If anything, it can be a great insight into what topics they are interested in the most.
Don’t dismiss ‘bad’ ideas
Even ideas that are bad can be used to spark other better ones, becoming an invaluable step in the process. Don’t dismiss anything, and keep track of everyone’s thoughts by creating a document to monitor the ideation.
Besides, sometimes an idea isn’t right at the time, but could be in the future!
Spending time on content ideation allows you to set up the content creation process up for success. It improves the content strategy and gives ideas space to grow. So it isn’t something to be skipped!
If you’d like to read other insightful articles on digital PR, SEO and more, you can find them in the It Works Media blog. Alternatively, if you’re looking for help with your marketing, get in touch, today.