Where and how am I going to find my next great content ideas?
We’ve all asked this question at one time or another.
Developing consistently great content for your social media accounts, blog posts, webinars, online courses, and workshops is a major challenge from both a creative and resource standpoint.
This week on The Science of Social Media, we’re sharing a simple, yet proven formula that you can use time and time again to discover irresistible content ideas using Reddit, YouTube, Quora, and other online communities.
Let’s kick it off!
How to discover irresistible content ideas [table of contents]
Brian: Hi everyone! I’m Brian Peters and this is The Science of Social Media, a podcast by Buffer. Your weekly sandbox for social media stories, insights, experimentation, and learning.
Hailley: Welcome to episode #112! I’m Hailley Griffis and this week we’re taking a look at a simple formula that will leave you with tons of content ideas for your social media and content marketing. Not just any ideas, though, we’re going to tell you how to dig in and really find the content that your audience will find irresistible from places you might not be using right now, like Reddit, Quora, YouTube, and a few other spots.
Part I: The formula for discovering great content on any network
Brian: I’m so excited to share these with everyone, there are some real gems in here. Let’s get started!
Hailley: To kick it off today, we’re going to look at the exact formula to come up with these amazing content ideas, and then we’ll go through a couple of unconventional networks and the specific steps to take there.
For this formula, it is pretty straight forward and you can definitely use it on several social networks, but we are going to apply it to just a few today to give you an example of what it can do.
Brian: So first up, you have to figure out the topic you’re looking to create content about. Now, you can of course have multiple topics for this, but we recommend only picking one topic at a time when you’re researching.
Topics could be things like social media marketing, or remote work, those are both topics that we might be looking to create content around.
Hailley: I think I could spend hours reading about remote work!
So now we have our topic and next up is to determine what people’s struggles are around our particular topic, and the way to figure that out is different per network so we’ll get into that in a minute, but in general you want to look for words that people use when they’re struggling with something, like:
- “How do you”
- “How can I”
- “Can someone help”
- “Biggest challenge”
- “Biggest struggle”
- “Struggle with”
So anything that would point to someone having a challenge around the topic you’ve set.
Brian: Now, once you’ve done that, you need to really dig in. Look at all of the comments about that topic, read through threads, really learn about what this challenge means to the people who are writing about it. Understanding this information will help you create richer, more thorough content.
Some questions you can ask yourself are:
- What other problems do people have that are related to the core problem?
- What solutions have worked for other people?
- What solutions have failed?
Hailley: If you’ve done this thoroughly, which we’re sure you have because you are a listener of this show and we know you’re working hard to be a better social media marketer, then you should have a ton of information about the challenge, the core problem, potential solutions, and things that haven’t worked.
Combining this with your own expertise on the subject, you now have more than enough to go off of to create content that will directly solve a problem that several people have shown interest in.
Brian: That’s right, so now that you have all of this information now comes the fun part, you get to create content!
Now whether that content is a blog post, newsletter, video, or a series of tweets or Facebook posts, that all depends on what you want to create and how your audience wants to consume it. We won’t get into that part too much, but the main part of this formula is using all of the information you’ve gathered to create the most informed content possible about the specific problem that you are solving.
Hailley: Finally, the last part of this formula is to publish your content and not only that, but to go back to some of the places where you collected struggles and information from and share that info with those people.
Now we’ve gone really high-level in this section because we want you to know that this is the kind of formula you can adjust and use anywhere on social media, but we’ll give you a few good examples in a minute here.
Brian: Yes, I love this formula. So to recap for everyone listening it went like this:
- Choose a topic you want to create content around
- Determine people’s struggles about that content through the use of key phrases like “how do you”
- Dig in and learn everything you can about the specific problem people are facing as well as the proposed solutions
- Create your content based on all of your research and expertise; and finally,
- Share it with the world
Hailley: I love that formula! It just makes me feel like I could turn into a content creating machine if I wanted to.
Now to the fun part, let’s apply this formula to several different social networks and talk about how it works for each of them. These are all pretty non traditional places and we don’t talk about them much on the show so it’s pretty exciting that we get to dig in today!
Part II: Using Reddit as a source of content inspiration
Now, I know some social media marketers are super familiar with Reddit while others have never even gone to the website before, and that’s totally fine! So let’s take a quick look at why Reddit is so powerful.
First of all, according to Alexa.com, Reddit is the sixth most popular website on the planet.
Hailley: Wow, I don’t think I would have guessed that. That’s amazing. The other thing about Reddit is not only is it hugely popular, but according to statistics published in The Next Web, the average Reddit user spends 15 minutes, 47 seconds on Reddit.com each day, compared to just over 11 minutes for Facebook.com visitors and 6 minutes 23 seconds on Twitter.com.
And the platform is growing at an incredible rate: Reddit had more than 330 million monthly active users as of April 2018, which is up from 250 million in November 2017.
Brian: Plus, since the platform was launched, its users have posted nearly two billion comments and cast more than 16 billion votes.
No matter what topic you’re trying to research, there’s almost certainly a subreddit (Reddit’s name for topic-specific forums) for it. Statista suggests that there are nearly 1.2 million subreddits.
Given its size, engagement and depth, Reddit is certain to have something valuable for you to use to come up with a content ideas.
Hailley: Totally! So let’s apply the formula to Reddit specifically.
First of all for Reddit, start with choosing your topic and then finding the most relevant subreddits around it.
This might take a few searches, especially if you aren’t familiar with Reddit, but in the end you should have several subreddits that at least address some parts of your topic.
Brian: Next up look for people sharing their struggles. This involved diving into the subreddits you’ve found to look for problems that you can solve for users with your content.
You can use the search function for each subreddit to look for phrases that indicate a struggle. We chatted about this a minute ago but quick recap, it would be things like:
- “How do you”
- “How can I”
- “Can someone help”
Make sure to include quotation marks around your search parameters, especially for the multi-word phrases, as that will ensure an exact phrase match.
Hailley: You can repeat this process across all of the subreddits you’ve identified to come up with a list of dozens (or more) potential content topics.
So now that you’ve identified people’s struggles, you can dig in and learn everything you can about the specific problem people are facing to ensure your content thoroughly solves the reader’s problem.
Go through each of the posts that you’ve found where someone is talking about a problem and try to figure out the problems related to the core problems, the solutions that have works and the solutions that have failed.
Brian: Now that you’re armed with your Reddit-mined article idea and the research to build your post around, it’s time to write.
If you’ve completed each step, then you have everything you need for your next valuable piece of content. Whether that’s a blog post, YouTube Video, or even a tweetstorm.
Hailley: That’s it! You’re ready to share your content with the world. Now, one thing we mentioned is that sometimes it makes sense to go back to where you originally found the problem and share your resource.
I don’t have a ton of experience with Reddit but I’ve heard their community doesn’t react well when someone it promoting their own content but I’m not sure how that’s different if you’re adding it in a comment instead of creating a new post around it. I’d say be cautious, and if you’re unsure just stick to the content promotion channels you’re most familiar with.
Part III: Using YouTube as a massive content search engine
Brian: Next up, let’s talk YouTube. Now we did a whole episode on YouTube marketing back in episode #95, but we’re going to quickly go over it as a tool for finding content ideas.
A lot of people don’t think of it this way but YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine — and third most visited site after Google and Facebook
And we as viewers watch over 1 billion hours of YouTube videos a day, more than Netflix and Facebook video combined
Hailley: Huge potential! So the formula for finding content ideas on YouTube is pretty similar but there some key differences that we’ll chat about.
Once you have your topic and the keywords associated with it for your YouTube search you can combine that with those questions we’re using to determine struggles and start entering them into the YouTube Search bar.
Brian: The key difference here is that because YouTube is really a search engine, you not only have access to the content related to your search term, but it will suggest tons of other long tail keywords based on your search.
This is the same experience for when you start to type a search term into Google and it started suggesting what other popular searches are based on what you’re typing.
Hailley: What’s cool is that YouTube is telling you what people are searching for related to your search! So that’s an extra bit of information to add to your research as you’re figuring out what people struggle with most.
This definitely lends a hand to the next step of the formula in terms of digging in so it should be pretty straight forward there!
Brian: Yes! Once you have all that you can start creating content and sharing it with the world.
I think YouTube is a great place to find content ideas even if the content you’re creating isn’t necessarily video, however, we’ve also had a ton of success with our YouTube channel by implementing this search strategy we’re talking about and uploading videos based on that. Like I said, we do talk about that whole experience back in ep. 95.
Part IV: Other communities and social networks for content discovery
Hailley: Where else might this strategy work?
Well, tons of places.
Another place I think you’d have a ton of success with this is Quora, a place where people specifically go to ask questions about things they’re unsure of. Plus as of 2017 Quora had over 200 million monthly unique visitors so that’s plenty of people that are creating content or asking questions.
Brian: Quora is great for this!
I also think Facebook Groups are a good place to look for content ideas. If you join a Facebook group specific to the topic that you’re writing about then you’ll already be looking at a group of people that are your target audience and all you have to do is find posts where people talk about their struggles.
Hailley: Too true! Okay and the last one I want to mention is Slack Communities, which can definitely be challenging because you have to really search to find active communities, but I think similar to Facebook groups if you join the right Slack community you could be in the perfect place to see the kinds of struggles that people are relaying and see how you can create content to help solve problems for them.
Brian: Thank you so much for tuning in to the Science of Social Media today. The show notes for this episode are now available on the Buffer Blog at blog.buffer.com with a complete transcript.
If you ever want to get in touch with me or Hailley, we’re always here for your on social media using the hashtag #bufferpodcast. You can also say hi to us anytime and firstname.lastname@example.org
Hailley: Also, thank you so much to everyone leaving iTunes reviews! It’s so awesome to read through all your kind comments there – and we actually do read through all of them and go through all of the tweets so thank you again!