April 16, 2014

Idea Development: The Most Important Phase in Social Media Marketing

Without a standout idea and content, success can be achieved with social media to a certain degree. You may be able to get enough votes from readers or from a big network of friends that you can ask for votes, but only those with the best ideas and excellent execution will truly have a viral impact.There are a number of different factors that are involved in a social media campaign (content, network, targeted sites, timing, etc.) that will influence its level of success, but idea development cannot be overlooked as a major contributor.

News-related content may be the exception, as these blogs often just report on current events and the news is what draws the interest from social media users. In this case, breaking the news is more critical than an idea for content development. However, most single-author blogs don’t have the luxury of breaking news, and so idea development is therefore a necessary priority.

Whether your approach is to entertain readers and social media users, educate them on some topic of interest, or stir up some controversy to get them thinking and reacting, the idea behind the content will be the driving factor that impacts everything else.

The Results of Not Focusing on Idea Generation:

1. Content won’t be unique – With so many blogs in most niches and many that are going after social media traffic, a lack of emphasis on idea development will likely¬†lead to content that is not unique, and will therefore struggle to interest social media us

2. It won’t have a hook – The best content for social media marketing will have some hook that captures the attention of readers and draws them to respond by voting for it on social media, linking to it, leaving a comment, or taking some other type of action. This usually doesn’t happen by accident.

3. Any visitors that arrive are unlikely to come back – Without unique content you may still be able to draw some social media traffic by leveraging your existing readers and/or your network, but the visitors that arrive as a result will usually be unimpressed and will have little motivation to come back.

4. The content will struggle to draw links – SMM is commonly used as a means for link building purposes, however, simply drawing some traffic from social media will not necessarily result in tons of new inbound links. Unique and original content is necessary to achieve this. Without dedicating time for idea development you’re unlikely to maximize your link building activities.

5. You’ll have to rely heavily on your network for social media success – Many social media marketers will ask their friends and contacts for votes on specific sites from time-to-time. If you have content that’s lacking in originality, you’ll have to rely heavily on your network because the content will be less likely to generate the response you’re looking for on its own.

The results with strong idea development are just the opposite.

Steps to Building Better Ideas:

1. Brainstorm – Great ideas sometimes just hit you, but other times you’ll have to work to come up with them. The first essential step in developing great content is dedicating time to nothing but generating ideas.

2. Keep a journal – When you’re brainstorming you’ll want to keep track of your ideas, good or bad. Those that may not be ready for further development may however lead to another idea that has better potential. With an active routine that involves brainstorming and a journal, you’ll always have some existing ideas and you won’t lose track of your best ones.

3. Observe – You’ll want to analyze what content is working for others with social media and use that knowledge to develop your own content. Of course, original content will not copy the ideas of others, but you can learn a lot about what works and what doesn’t. You’ll also need to analyze your own results to continually improve.

4. Spend time on titles and headlines – Don’t underestimate the impact a post title or a social media submission’s headline can have on its success. This is an area that I personally struggle with, but those who do a good job with titles have a huge advantage.

5. Take some chances – Although you can learn a lot from analyzing the success of past content, sometimes you’ll need to take some chances in effort to hit the homerun. Not everything will be successful with social media, so take some chances and don’t worry about it too much if they’re not successful. Those who are new to social media marketing often get disappointed too quickly. You don’t have to have an exceptionally high success rate to get very positive overall results.

6. Focus on quality ideas not quantity of ideas – The best ideas and the best content will get tremendous results with social media. Rather than having five mediocre blog posts, take the time to really develop your ideas and focus more on quality that quantity.

7. Throw out many more ideas than you use – None of us are so skilled that all of our ideas are good ideas. That’s just part of brainstorming. If we’re focusing on quality rather than quantity, it’s natural that most of our ideas will never be developed. Don’t be afraid to throw out an idea, it’s better to move on and dedicate your time to another idea that has a better chance for success.

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About Steven Snell

Steven is a web designer, blogger, and freelance writer.

4 comments

  1. Instead of doing all that work, can I just borrow your brain? It seems to be creating ideas all the time.

    Awesome article, I would just throw in mindmapping as a way to generate ideas. I have used mindmapping on and off over the years since I read about it in one of Tony Buzan’s books, but recently it has become a staple in my thinking process. Sometimes I mindmap while waiting for my order at a restaurant, hehe.

  2. Vinh,
    Yes, mindmapping is a great process too.

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