You need to start blogging. You need to be active on social media. You need more content. You need to connect more with your audience, your customers, potential partners.
If you’re a small business owner, you’ve heard some combination of the above buzz phrases.
Somehow, on top of running your business, you’re supposed to be a fountain of social media content—posting fun articles, helpful infographics, polls, giveaways, and other content to grab the internet’s attention and keep it somewhere near your website.
This is a daunting task, especially if you’re not outsourcing this role to a third-party but keeping it internal.
If you’re nervous, confused, or just plain stumped, don’t worry. Here are five tips you can use to stay inspired, creative, and productive.
1. Rework what you’ve already got
Let’s say you’ve come up with a great piece of content—a sprawling infographic that covers trends in your industry, or an informative brochure that you’re sending out to loyal customers to keep your work top-of-mind.
There’s no reason for your masterwork to remain a one-hit wonder. You can rework what you’ve already created to fit different media and formats.
Let’s say you created a brochure to send through snail-mail. First of all, you should digitize this brochure and share it on your platforms.
But you can also give the brochure new life by pulling all the text into a blog post, which can then also be shared. Maybe you want to focus in on one key theme, or statistic, or concept, from the brochure, and turn that into a YouTube video or podcast.
As long as you make some tweaks to the presentation and actual text so you’re not flooding your channels with the same thing over and over, you’ll find it’s easy to share your content in different formats and still find social traction.
There’s no telling what form or formats are most likely to go viral, so best to use all of them to the fullest capability and see what happens.
2. Find out what’s trending on top platforms
Most social media platforms have trending sections where you can see topics that are picking up steam. While some of these topics are flashes in the pan or specific to that day (we’re looking at you, #NationalHugANewsPersonDay), other trends come up consistently (such as #WednesdayWisdom) or reveal a larger trend that will be worth commenting on, such as political news or scientific discoveries.
Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or LinkedIn, you can find out what people are talking about and create content that connects you to the broader conversation. Find topics that you have a real connection with—don’t force it—and you’re more likely to be inspired to create something that resonates.
3. Get personal
One of the great ironies of social media is that they began as ways for people to connect personally across the internet, and they’ve become, largely, avenues for corporations to push their advertisements.
To avoid coming across as yet another business hoping to capitalize on the intimacy of the platform, consider using your social media channels as windows into your business and yourself.
If you have something personal you want to share—a take on politics, a heartfelt memory, a rumination on feeling lazy on Mondays—don’t be afraid to let it out.
On one hand, if it doesn’t hit home with your audience, your post will probably get lost in the shuffle (and worst-case scenario, it’s easy to delete).
On the other hand, if it resonates with people, you hardly wasted any energy on coming up with a topic—you simply spoke from the heart (or head) and let humanity do the rest.
Some ways to do this other than writing blog posts include sharing behind-the-scenes footage of what goes into making your product, or livestreaming an event going on at your office—such as a party, or a visiting speaker. You can either save these for later use or post exclusively to platforms where that content will disappear after 24 hours (such as Instagram or Snapchat Stories).
There may be no better way to find out what will resonate with your audience than by asking them directly.
It’s easier than ever to reach out to your audience and get their opinion on what you should cover, do, or produce next. Ask them a question with an Instagram Stories poll; put out a tweet looking for suggestions; encourage feedback and comments at the bottom of your blog posts to see what people think of what you’ve already posted and what you could expand on.
Ultimately, you’re creating content for these people and like-minded folks who haven’t found you yet. Get their thoughts and see if you can turn their questions, concerns, or compliments into a new series, or at least a funny comment exchange.
5. Use Google Keyword Planner
When you use Google’s Keyword Planner tool, you’ll see even the slight variations that people use when searching the web.
While you don’t want to flood your platforms with eerily similar content, it’s worth exploring exactly what combinations of keywords people are using to arrive at your site, and sites similar to yours. You can build different posts and pieces of content around these slightly different ideas to capitalize on the variations.
For example, articles that are “How to do X” can become “Why do X” or “The best ways to do X.” As long as you provide fresh methods for how, why, and the best ways to do those things, you’re covering your bases and giving Google and social media more reasons to feature your content.
These methods are all self-perpetuating. There will always be different trending words and topics; you will (almost) always have an opinion to share or a story to tell; you can often repurpose what you’ve created in new and exciting ways as new platforms and outlets emerge. Use these and you’ll never run out of content.