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7 Ways to Generate Content Ideas People Actually Care About

7 Ways to Generate Content Ideas People Actually Care About David Carrillo
One thing you can count on hearing at any conference, even remotely tied to marketing, is that content is king. And whether you think content is king, queen or court jester—and what’s up with our industry’s need for all the personification by the way—we can all agree that it has some level importance.

Identifying “Hot Topics” in Your Industry

The best tactic I’ve been using to help my clients come up with fresh content ideas on a regular basis is online conversation mining. Similar to social media monitoring and a cousin to the more notorious newsjacking, OCM as a concept is simple: find out what people are talking about and create content based on that.

One problem for marketers, when doing traditional keyword research, is determining context. A quick trip to the Google Keyword Planner can tell you how many times a keyword was searched for, give you additional related keywords, but it can’t determine the context in which that query was made. OCM helps us bridge that gap.

1) Use Twitter Advanced Search

Twitter has become a figurative water cooler and the go-to resource for monitoring everything from momentous events like the Olympics to the more trivial Netflix outage. This makes it an invaluable resource for content generation, and one quick way to take a peek at this treasure trove is through Twitter Search.

Begin by heading directly to Twitter’s Advanced Search function. Enter a few base keywords into the “Any of these words” data field, select the question mark box in the “Other” section, and then click the “Search” button.

Bonus Tip: Discover content topics to help build authority using the hashtags search parameter. Enter your keywords in the “Any of these words” data field and include the query #help in the “These hashtags” data field.

2) Browse Google+ Communities

I wouldn’t exactly call it a thriving mainstream social network, but there are pockets of heavily active users and communities that can provide a wealth of content ideas.

Start off by inputting your keyword into the search bar and clicking the search button. Then refine the results to show only “Communities,” and look for one with a decent following and number of posts. Fortunately, Google makes this easy for us by listing the number of members and posts right underneath the community name in the results page.

3) Learn to Love Quora

Quora is straight up telling us to use it to generate content ideas. The best part is it’s insanely easy to do so. All you have to do is actually use Quora!

Bonus Tip: If you want to export this info into a table easily, start by downloading the Scraper Chrome Extension. Input your search query like before, click search and then scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the “More” button. Continue to scroll down and click the “More” button a few more times until you’ve loaded a decent number of results. Then highlight the title of a search result, right-click and select “Scrape Similar” from the dialogue box. From there you can export the data into Excel or Google Docs for a clean list of content ideas to add to your editorial calendar.

4) Monitor Google Trends

What if you want to know what is being searched for right now, literally RIGHT NOW.

Google Trends breaks down current hot searches and updates throughout the day. It also breaks down the data by certain industries/groupings, so depending on what niche you are in the information you desire may be formatted perfectly already. If not, you can search by individual keywords and see facts like search activity over time, news stories that coincided with peaks, top related searches, and top rising searches.

5) Don’t Forget About Forums

Much to my continual surprise, forums are not dead. The easiest way to monitor these conversations is through listening tools (Radian6, Brandwatch, Sysomos, etc.) but you can find relevant forums to parse through manually with simple web searches.

For example, go to Google or Bing and input [keyword] forums as your search query, or if you are on Google just enter your keyword and search using the “Discussions” filter.

6) Get Familiar with Reddit

As a platform Reddit is fascinating for marketers because it serves as a barometer for what’s popular in any given moment. While it’s important to keep in mind that the audience isn’t a perfect sample (or even an ideal one) of the internet at large, by targeting the right keywords and subreddits you can find some excellent content ideas.

Bonus Tip: Further refine your search by limiting the results to those from a specific subreddit.

7) News Searches (Extra, Extra Read All About It)

Anyone familiar with the concept of the aforementioned newsjacking will be familiar with this tactic. Essentially, this is a way to look for topics related to a specific industry or keyword that can be tied back into a brand via timely content. This can be references to the brand itself—for instance commenting on a product review or latest stock prices—or commentary about a hot topic or emerging trend in the space as a whole. One way to find out what’s happening at a glance is to take advantage of Google and Bing’s News search function.

Just the Beginning of OCM

Keep in mind this is but a short list of places to look for fresh content ideas. Some of the other places I look to for inspiration include LinkedIn Groups, the Popular on YouTube section, Trendsmap and Webstagram. Analyzing other platforms and industry specific sites, as well as incorporating paid tools, can really take your OCM program to a whole other level.

What about you, though? Let us know how you generate content ideas people actually care about in the comments below or connect with me directly on Twitter @davidcarrillo.

David Carrillo is an online marketer at The Search Agency with a passion for all things digital. His background is in content and social but he has a passion for a variety of marketing disciplines ranging from technical SEO to display advertising.

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