In my previous article, “Why Does Your Business Need Video Marketing?” I discussed why every company should adopt video content into their content marketing strategy.  And yes, I mean every company. Regardless of your field of expertise – no matter how niche or boring - you can create great content that followers or industry peers are looking for; ultimately, bringing more people to your brand.

Although last week I highlighted video, great content can come in the form of articles, images, infographics, you name it. It’s all about providing value to the audience. But how do you generate the ideas for this great content? It might be easier than you would expect:

1. Google Adwords Keyword Planner 

The Google Adwords Keyword Planner allows any brand to enter multiple keywords and discover related keyword phrases. The results show all of the related keywords and phrases for each of the terms you enter.

Google even refers to these results as “ideas” and for good reason: the vast amount of information that comes back can offer tons of great topic ideas for content. For example, a search for “Nashville Music” brings up all search terms that include the words “Nashville” and “Music.” 

You can get hundreds of results for a single term. But you can also enter multiple terms to get variations and even more great content ideas. By adding on the term “Great places for,” the results now include related terms to both entries as well as combinations of both, such as “Great places for Nashville Music,” “Nashville is the Greatest Place for Music,” etc. 

All of these variations can be used in your content marketing strategy as possible topics to write an article about, create a video, or design an awesome infographic showcasing Nashville’s awesome music scene. 

2. Answer Sites

Answer sites, such as Yahoo! Answers or Quora can be the crown jewel for content ideation. Yahoo! Answers is still one of the biggest answer sites today, receiving hundreds of millions of questions and answers. The site gets a huge variety of questions, ranging from dating to homework to home and garden. 

The way Yahoo! Answers works is simple; participants will submit questions to be answered by the community. When asking a question, the participant categorizes it by topic, making it easier to search and easier to answer.

You can use your keyword phrases to sift through and browse questions that are being asked, either within niche categories or as a broad search. For example, after searching for the keyword “Nashville music” over 400 questions and answers came back. Here are the top three questions:

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  • “Fun things to do in Nashville?”
  •  “Is Nashville really all about Country Music?”
  • “Should I move to LA or Nashville for a music career?”

If I own a business near Nashville or in the music industry, these questions (and the hundreds that follow) give me a few ideas about what specifically people are after (and not all the questions are about becoming a famous Rock Star).

Quora is another great place to go content ideas – but this answer site is even better for B2B organizations. It has become an important player in the Q&A space- It functions much the way Yahoo! Answers does – and similar to the others, it’s meant to be a useful knowledge-indexing tool, a database of information provided by users. 

However, Quora is a continually improving collection of questions and answers because users have the ability to review, edit, flag as useful/not useful, and even organize the site’s Q/A. The creators’ goal was to have each question page become the best possible resource for someone who wants to know about the question.

3. Social Media 

Social media channels give you the power to reveal your potential customers’ interests – in real time. Think of how valuable this can be foryour business! By paying attention to the conversations and engagement surrounding the topics related to your industry, you’ll spot trends in what people are talking about; you’ll become aware of the subtleties in the ways your customers phrase search requests; what content they respond to; and what invites the most user engagement.

When start to understand the dynamics in these conversations, you can develop rich answers to their most pressing questions, delivering those answers in terms that make sense to them.The top three social sites can help you answer these questions.Keep in mind, every social media site has its own community culture and etiquette, for example:

  • Twitter:  What #hashtags or trending topics are booming in your industry? What are people talking about and asking for?

  • Facebook:  What type of content gets the most Shares and Likes in your industry? Are you posting as much content on Facebook as your competitors?

  • LinkedIn: How is your company viewed compared to your peers? Do you contribute or publish content that establishes your brand as a thought-leader in the industry?

 As you create content, be sure to engage with social networks to keep current with the changing social trends. That way, you can engage your potential customers’ right where they are, acting as a resource for their needs.

 4. Google Suggest & Related Searches

Google uses a keyword suggestion feature to help searchers find what they are looking for more efficiently. Google Suggest instantly offers the top related keyword phrases as the searcher types the keyword phrase into the search box. The suggestions can change drastically as the searcher types each letter in the search box.

When the phrase appears that most closely conveys the idea that the searcher wants to express in the search, the searcher can select it from the list and go right to those results. 

Using our same “Nashville music” example, say a song-writer is looking to follow her dreams and move to Nashville to pursue a career in music. She’s never been to Nashville, so she starts with an online search to find information on nearby music venues and attractions to plan her trip to fame.

She starts by simply typing in our keyword: “Nashville music”. With every letter she types, the search suggestions become more and more specific. Her opening search is actively refined to help discover the best possible result for her.

If I had a business that benefited at all from people musicians in Nashville – such as a music venue, hotel, bar, travel agency, restaurants, chamber of commerce, visitors bureau, conventions, etc. –  Google Suggest just game me awesome ideas for content that would relate direct my target audience in a matter of seconds!

5. Ask questions!  (A lot of them)

For any brand to effectively generate some great content topics, they must start by understanding what their audience is searching for most often.  It is your job as a content marketer to provide valuable information or solutions for their questions and challenges.

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I always suggest gathering your entire staff - whether it’s the sales department, human resources, executives in the office, the janitor stealing candy off your desk - and have them write down 3 questions they get asked, all the time. 

Chances are, these are questions that your target audience are frequently asking and/or searching for. This is your opportunity as a brand to offer up an answer for them.  Not only is this effective content, it provides value because it offers a solution to their problem, and will inevitably build a trusting relationship between your brand and the reader.

Next, go straight to your current customers. Ask them, “What is the biggest challenge you face?”

Keep in mind, this question may need to be tweaked depending on the type of business you’re in. But the main point is to try and keep the question open-ended. With every answer you receive, you can start building great content around their challenges – the mantra with content marketing is simple – Start helping before you start selling.

The tools found above are excellent ways to remedy frustration after a long brainstorming session, or late in a content marketing strategy when it feels like the “idea-well” is running dry. With the changing trends or topics in any industry, using these tools will assist you in generating endless content ideas for your business – Remember: continue to push creative boundaries, always answer your audience’s needs, and have fun!


Brad Kuenn is a Content Writer, Editor and Strategist living in Nashville, Tennessee, and he provides research, content topics, writing, editing, and content development expertise to clients. He has a passion for writing as well as art, which shines through in his work. His creativity and attention to detail makes him a valuable asset for a wide range of clients. During his time off he enjoys spending time with his wife, family, and his two dogs Brutus and Kane. 
Connect with Brad:  Twitter   LinkedIn   Google+

 

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