Adam Fisher
24th October 2018 - 6 mins read
I

’ve written three blogs a week for three years now for our sister company Media First.

During that time I have often wondered where the next post is going to come from, yet I haven’t missed one yet. Of course, it helps to have a great team of inspiring people around me – including an amazing editor who is not only uber talented but exceptionally good looking (Ed – is this getting obvious now?)

Anyhow, here’s how I get my ideas for regular content: 

 

The news and trending topics

News sites are a great source of material and inspiration for the content I produce.

Whether it is news from your own sector or industry, or national or international news, current affairs and events are a source that cannot be ignored.

Sometimes the content I produce will be a direct commentary of these stories, but on other occasions, it will just help me find a way into writing about a wider issue I want to discuss.

I once used a news story about stoned sheep as a hook for a blog about media training, which, to prove one of my points you will read about shortly, was written in an A&E waiting room while waiting for my wife to be seen by doctors (ever the supporting husband).

When you are sourcing stories through social media sites, it is always worth looking at how people have reacted. This will give you a ‘voice of the people’ perspective and these thoughts can trigger an equally strong source of creativity. Via: @37agency

The other great thing about using this source as inspiration is that your content will be timely – often a key factor in motivating people to read.

 

Ideas come when you least expect them

One of the things I have found is that content ideas often come to me when I’m not really expecting or looking for them.

Some of the better ideas I have had have come to me on the commute, while playing with my children, in the middle of the night and even while sat on the loo (possibly too much information, but it is true).

Whereas it can often be a fruitless, smash-my-head into-the-desk kind of frustrating experience if I’m sat in the office trying to forcefully generate ideas.

The key for me is to make sure I make a note of these ideas when they pop into my head, even if it is just on my phone, because they can often quickly be forgotten.

 

Interview people

Carrying out interviews can be a great source of content and they can breathe fresh life into your blogs.

Not only can they be written up in a variety of ways, from a straight Q&A style to quotes throughout an article, but they also often generate additional content ideas.

People in your organisation, key influencers in your sector and people you have recently worked with could all make good interviewees and help you produce something a bit different for your readers.

My one word of advice would be to avoid the word ‘interview’ – it tends to make people nervous and cautious – not what you need for producing interesting content.

Make it sound informal by referring to it as a ‘quick chat’.

 

Recycling

This may sound unintentionally arrogant, but I find combing through the archives of content I have produced before a good source of material.

By that, I mean I find ways of repurposing that content into something new.

It could, for example, be as simple as updating an old blog. For our sister company Media First, I once wrote a blog that looked back on the best interviews of the year. Now I do that every year.

It may be that the topic has moved on and developed and that I’m now in a position to write to follow-up post capturing that new thinking.

Or perhaps I might now focus in on a specific part of a previous post and take a look at it in more depth.

I’ll also look back at the blogs that have been particularly successful in the past and think about how that content could be freshened up.

 

Your colleagues

The people you work with can be a great source of content ideas.

And they are often better placed to know the issues and problem your customers are experiencing and want answering.

The challenge, however, particularly for larger organisations, can be to get wider team members to buy into the content strategy.

There are two approaches here. One way is to hold formal brainstorming (I hate that word) meetings with a few people from different parts of the organisation. This can be a good method, but some people may feel reticent about coming forward with ideas which are not fully formed, particularly if there are more senior colleagues in the room.

The other approach, and one I generally find more productive is to speak to colleagues informally and more regularly and remind them that I am always after ideas for blogs. With this method, I tend to find people regularly send me an email or a text when a content idea comes to mind.  

 

The competition

Chances are some of your competitors are producing a lot of their own content, which could provide an inspiration.

I will do this very occasionally, but it is not something I’m a big fan of.

This isn’t because I think my content is better, but because I fear it can be too easy to fall into the trap of producing something similar.

Originality is a key factor for me in content that stands out so I prefer to find my inspiration in other sources.

 

Ask the audience

What better way to find out what your readers want to read about than by directly asking them?

If you feel you are approaching the end of your content supply, ask your readers what issues they would like you to address in future posts.

Or put the question out there through your social media channels.

Even if you only get a handful of responses, it could generate some fresh ideas.

Whilst I’m on this point – why not let me know what you’d like to see me write about next by emailing hello@thirtyseven.agency.

 

Turn to the tech

If all else fails, you can always turn to the tech.

There are plenty of blog topic generators available on the internet where you simply need to type in a few phrases and the algorithms do their magic. Hubspot has a pretty decent one for example and I used it to type in the words ‘content’, ‘marketing’ and ‘writing’. It came back with the following:

15 best blogs to follow about content

Think you’re cut out for doing marketing? Take this quiz

7 things about writing your boss wants to know

20 myths about content

What will marketing be like in 100 years?

 

As you can see, the ideas they generate aren’t always relevant or unique, but they are free and they may just come up with something you can work with and develop.

 

At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is social media content or a whitepaper.

Marketing

Blink and you'll miss it- the benefits of ephemeral content

Emily Stonham 11th January 2019 — 9 mins read
E

phemeral is defined by Cambridge dictionary as ‘lasting for a very short amount of time’.

There’s a few key types of ephemeral content that your business should consider experimenting with. The most popular form - and arguably the one that popularised temporary content - is Snapchat stories. You can also find stories on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. There’s also a story function on WhatsApp, known as statuses.

Snapchat messages (snaps) also fall under this category, as do Instagram live videos. Snaps can only be viewed for a set amount of time, and Instagram live videos disappear from stories after 24 hours.

So, why should your business bother with making this style of content? After all, evergreen content is incredibly useful for marketing purposes so why stray away from that? In this blog, I’ve collected 7 key reasons why you should consider adding ephemeral content into your strategy.

 

Realism and authenticity

One of the main benefits of using ephemeral content is that it offers your customers a much more personal, authentic look at your brand. Using stories on Instagram, for example, makes it much easier to show viewers what your team gets up to throughout the day or to share a quick picture of the office dog having a nap.

I’ve written before about the importance of showing the human aspect of your business. Modern customers love seeing behind the scenes of their favourite brand, and they especially love having a relatable character/influencer to show them this. A good example of this is ASOS introducing their Insiders (a team of influencers working for the brand).

You could try using the story function on Instagram to show off a company event, or maybe demonstrate a new product that’s just arrived. It’s the perfect area to be slightly less formal than your main page, and your customers will thank you for it. Instagram stories have a number of handy functions for market research, too- it’s worth looking into polls, questions and sliders if you’re doing this.

 

Urgency

Another great reason to use temporary content is that it creates a real sense of urgency. Customers will often experience FOMO (fear of missing out) if there’s a timed offer shown on a story or live video, especially if it’s a brand they’re particularly fond of. This also applies to limited time offers shown on websites, like flash sales.

Fashion and beauty brands are particularly good with this. A brand that uses flash sales and promotions effectively is Disturbia, an alternative fashion company which creates unique, limited print run clothing. As a fan of this brand, I can confirm that it always seems to have a flash sale at the right time, which is not great news for my bank account.

Disturbia has found a great balance between having just enough flash offers to attract customers to come back to the website frequently, but not too many as to make them look fake. Over the last week, I've seen about 3 limited time offers on the website- enough to make a fan of the brand want to buy, but not too many to put them off.

Disturbia also has a good email marketing campaign, with quick sales and promos to encourage their readers to 'act fast' or 'not to miss out'. One of the key points that I believe has lead to them being successful here is the choices of urgent words used in their copy.

There’s a lot of fashion brands at the moment who have been caught out for having fake flash sales e.g. they’ll post ‘24 hours only!’ and replace the same offer 24 hours later with ‘48 hours only!’. It’s a popular tactic, especially with newer 'fast fashion' brands.

There’s even been a recent upset in the beauty community with a company called Kenza Cosmetics, who offered free brushes (spoiler- they weren’t free) for a limited amount of time. The limited amount of time seemed to go on for a very unlimited amount of time, and was immediately jumped on by Twitter and YouTube commenters. The scam ran a lot deeper than this, with famous YouTubers promoting products that mysteriously didn't turn up for months. Unfortunately, this type of scenario happens a lot online nowadays.

 

 

The main takeaway from this for brands looking to use temporary offers and flash sales is to find the right balance of offers and make sure they’re genuine. If your Facebook story says there’s 24 hours to use a discount code, make sure it’s actually 24 hours. You might get away with extending it a few times but customers will eventually pick up on the fact that your sales and offers go on for an inaccurate time. Eventually, this’ll lead to a distrust in your brand and a lack of engagement with offers. After all, if your 3 day offers normally go on for at least a week, why should they bother running to get their credit card?

 

Variation

A different reason to start using ephemeral content is that it can really liven up your social media strategy. If your brand has been consistently posting customer testimonials on Instagram at 3pm for the last 4 months, why not switch it up completely and do a livestream on your page unboxing your latest product? It can feel odd stepping outside of your usual comfort zone for content, but there’s only one way to find out whether it works or not.

Obviously, it’s important to do your research. If you want to use stories, make sure to check where the majority of your audience is. If your clients love using YouTube, there’s not much point just doing a brilliant story over on Facebook. If you want to go live, check out the times that your audience is online most frequently. The Instagram analytics section for business accounts is fantastic for this, as it can show you the relevant times for each day.

Social media is constantly changing and evolving, especially in regards to algorithms and content trends. If your page isn’t changing and growing with the platform, it’s likely that your engagement and lead generation will just die off over time. 

 

Speed and range

A great benefit of using temporary content is that it’s pretty quick to make. Due to the personal, informal vibe that most ephemeral pieces have, the amount of time that goes into creating it is significantly lower than creating evergreen content. Creating a behind the scenes Snap series would take a lot less time, effort and resources than creating a YouTube series with the same aim, for example. Live streaming is also relatively quick to set up, and is great to use for product launches or important events.

As lazy as it might sound, stories are a fantastic way to widen the range of your content marketing without distracting too much from your main pieces of content. In 2018, Instagram reported approximately 400 million daily story viewers. Snapchat followed behind with 191 million. Is this an audience that your business can afford to miss out on interacting with?

Instagram is arguably the best platform to utilise stories on. On this platform, it’s a mix of your existing audience and prospects who view stories. You can use hashtags on Instagram stories to get your story added to a tag story, which is displayed whenever people search for that term. It’s a great way to keep your brand in people’s mind too, as stories on Instagram are displayed right at the top of a user’s screen with the most recent and relevant being displayed first.

 

 

 

Staying active pays off with Instagram stories overall, and you’ll be able to monitor this in your analytics tab. Of course, other platforms have their benefits too and it’s worth exploring all of your key options. Determine where your audience is, and figure out which style of ephemeral content will catch their eye most effectively.

 

Reactivity

A final benefit of using ephemeral content is that it allows you to be much more reactive online. When an important event happens, it allows you to quickly jump on your page and post a genuine, casual response instead of spending a day crafting an intricate, corporate one.

Using stories or livestreams to document how your team feels about something that’s happening live is a brilliant way to connect with your audience further. This is especially true for events, as it relates what you’re posting to your audience’s perspective as a consumer.

Obviously, this style of quick, informal post isn’t appropriate for every scenario (probably best not to post a snapchat vlog series in response to a media crisis) but it can be a great way to increase the relevance of your content.

 

Overall 

Ephemeral content is definitely worth looking into if you want to liven up your content strategy and add some variation to what you’re providing for your customers. It allows you to position your company as relevant, authentic and modern, while still encouraging customers to buy from and interact with you.

Here are a few pieces of content that you could try out;

 

  • An Instagram livestream at an industry event.
  • A behind the scenes Snapchat series, showing an average day in your office.
  • Whatsapp status updates, hinting at your next product launch or collection.
  • A series of Facebook stories answering common questions from your audience.
  • A ‘takeover’ day on your Instagram story, where a member of staff controls the page for a day. Great for Q&As, office tours and promoting your latest services.
  • Snapchat stories of anything fun your office is getting up to, like a charity event or coffee morning. Informal content like this is a great way to add a personal feel to your content and help your audience relate to what you’re saying more.

 

Not sure where to start with creating temporary content for your social platforms? Thirty Seven offer comprehensive social media services, ranging from post writing and design, to account management. Feel free to get in touch with us today at hello@thirtyseven.agency to find out more about how we could help you with this.

 

Adam Fisher
9th April 2018 - 5 mins read

Every company wants to be an authority in their sector - those that engage the media usually are

Media First designs and delivers bespoke media and communications courses that use current working journalists, along with PR and communications professionals, to help you get the most from your communications plan.