Social media is a hungry beast, and social networks require constant feeding. They need a diet of content that keeps readers and viewers coming back for more.
This is one of the biggest challenges of social media.
Most companies and bloggers have a hard time finding inspiration to come up with varied content. Here are some ideas:
1. Create lists.
I can hear some of you yawning. The reality is that in a time-poor world, lists of tips or things to do, such as "10 tips to create a great video," are the headlines people click on. Breaking down content makes it easy to read and tells readers you aren't wasting their time.
Example: "10 powerful tips to increase fan engagement on Facebook"
2. Go negative.
Most people prefer to hear bad news, or things they should avoid. It's sad, but true. Take the negative angle of a story—you'll be surprised by the traffic.
Example: "Personal branding on LinkedIn: 10 mistakes to avoid"
3. Share infographics.
Infographics present complex data and information as a combination of text and images. People share them on Pinterest and Twitter.
Example: "23 hints for creating content that Google loves-infographic"
4. Curate content.
Take a topic and find some of the best articles on it through a Google search. Package it up and serve it to your readers. You'll save them time and effort by putting all the information in one place.
5. Provide how-to posts.
The appetite people have for simple instructions never ceases to surprise me. Provide a how-to framework that makes a task easy to read, understand and implement. Readers will value and admire your blog.
Example: "How to verify your Pinterest account and why you should"
6. Share news.
People want to know what is happening in their industry, city and the world. Help them find news easily and quickly. Create, publish and promote this content fast.
Huffington Post and Mashable are successful because of this.
Example: "Apple makes huge announcement about Twitter"
7. Do research.
Provide facts wrapped in well-structured articles. The facts can be from a singular source or multiple sources. People can print them off and put them in front of managers and CEOs' eyes. If the university research says it's true, it is! Many people want proof before they take that first step.
Example: "How 5 prestige brands innovate and market on Facebook"
8. List case studies.
Research is great, but real-world case studies are proof that it works. Provide a list of case studies, and your advocates will lap it up.
Example: "5 successful Facebook marketing campaigns-case studies"
9. Share evergreen content.
The Web constantly demands fresh content. In this frenzy, people often forget that old content can be just as relevant today as it was two years ago. Evergreen content is content you can share with your readers for a long time. Create content that provides a framework or covers principles, and you will give it longevity and endurance.
Example: "10 ways to launch and promote a product using social media"
10. Post images.
Create content that takes screenshots, or uses images to convey an idea, concept or story. Images provide emotional impact, and people share them on Facebook more than any other content type. Snagit is a photo tool I use, and it is now an indispensable part of my content creation toolkit.
Example: "A powerful two step system to increase the value of your Facebook community"
11. Create videos.
When creating content, you can share stories and ideas in many ways. Because video now streams easily on the Internet, you ought to include it in your content marketing. You can enhance your story with a direct-to-camera video, a video that captures your screen (such as with the Camtasia software), or sourcing videos from YouTube.
12. Post to SlideShare.
SlideShare is YouTube for PowerPoint presentations. People often underestimate it as a means of making your content accessible and attractive. It is a very visual platform that displays ideas and concepts quickly and easily. Take your articles, research papers, and blog posts and put them into a PowerPoint you can then upload to SlideShare.
I've used SlideShare more extensively in the last year, and views of my SlideShare account now average 25,000 to 35,000 views a month. Total views are more than 330,000.
You should seriously consider SlideShare as a format for your content.
Example: "How to get started with social media marketing"
13. Create top 10 lists.
People love to know who or what is at the top of almost any category or sector. Create content that displays this and watch the traffic spike.
Example: "10 top Pinterest boards"
14. Write tool or application reviews.
Everyone is looking for tools and apps that make life easier on the Web. Make it easy for your readers to find and download the software.
Example: "10 must-have WordPress plug-ins every blogger should know about"
15. Solve problems.
Provide step-by-step instructions about the major issues that plague your industry. This content offers enormous value to your readers, and content creation is always about adding value.
Example: "20 ways to increase your Facebook likes and engagement"
16. Compile statistics and facts.
Content that outlines the latest statistics and facts always produces clicks and shares. These articles are always a hit.
Example: "72 fascinating social media marketing facts and statistics for 2012"
17. Share quotes.
Put a quote on Twitter or Facebook and watch the likes leap. There's nothing like an inspiring quote to put a gleam in someone's eye.
18. Create a podcast.
Podcasting was big a few years ago, and it is making a resurgence. Technology is making it easier than ever to create podcasts. But don't just produce content for a podcast—take old articles and turn them into podcasts. It's the same content but a different medium. People can download it and listen to it as they drive, commute, or sit on a park bench.
Example: "Marketing is dead"
19. Write an eBook.
Turning content into an eBook is a great way to make your content spread. Build your email list by asking people to submit their names and email addresses to access an eBook that offers valuable information.
20. Share a transcript.
Transcription services are now easy and low cost. Transcripts turn your podcast or video into a document.
What content ideas work for you? Are there some you would like to try? Please share in the comments.
Jeff Bullas is a digital media coach, mentor, consultant and speaker. He blogs at JeffBullas.com, where a version of this article originally ran.