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It’s the start of the month and your pre-planned content from last month is running out. You realise the countdown is on until you need to sit down and brainstorm content ideas and a sense of dread starts rising – where do you start and what if your mind is blank? 🤯

Rest assured – we’ve all been there! ☺️

Maintaining a steady stream of content for social media that is interesting, engaging, creative, AND actually meets your organisation’s objectives is not easy. It’s natural that as time goes on your brainstorming and planning becomes routine and it gets harder to create new and exciting ideas when you’re always following the same process. 🔂

With that in mind, today’s blog is focussed on 9 fun ways that you can shake up your social media content brainstorming to spark your creativity! Lots of these are tactics that we employ at CrowdControlHQ and others that we’ve tried. Needless to say, everyone and every social media team is different so find what works for you by experimenting with these ideas!

1. Analyse what social media content worked well before

We often find the best place to start when generating ideas for social media is to look at what content worked well in the previous month. 👀 While it’s awesome to come up with brand new ideas, you don’t always have to re-invent the wheel. You can adapt and learn from your most successful posts and find an element to incorporate into your next campaign. That could mean:

- Using a similar style of content like a video, image, or hashtag that worked well 📹

- Building on a successful message - e.g. a behind the scenes look at how your organisation works that you replicate with another department 🗣

- Running more competitions or polls if you got a great response 🏆

2. Consider international and national events/hashtags/awareness days

Our go-to source of social media content ideas is to look at upcoming hashtags, awareness days, and events. Not only do these provide anchor points to start your brainstorming from, but in linking your content to these hashtags you’re joining a much wider conversation which can help to ensure that your message spreads further.

We now compile a list of these dates in our Social Media Ideas Calendar that we publish each month – you can download the latest one for free here! 📆💥

It’s then simply a case of deciding which events align with your message, brand, values, or product/service to devise relevant content around. Just don’t forget to tie these campaigns back to your objectives! 🎯

You can find out more about how we use this calendar and our process for creating social media content here.

3. Check out your competition and organisations you admire

Similarly, getting inspiration from other organisations in your sector or even just organisations that you admire is a great tactic. Keep a list of these organisations handy to re-energise when you’re feeling a little low on ideas and remember to update the list as you discover new brands doing awesome things.

As you browse these social media accounts consider what content is working well for them, what could also work for your organisation, how you could put your own spin on things, or even do them better!

To get a head start, why not take a look at some of the lists we’ve compiled of organisations that we admire on social media:

🎓 5 Education Institutions Achieving Top Marks on Social Media

🏢 5 Councils Leading the Way on Social Media

🏡 5 housing associations leading the way on social media

4. Post-It note grouping

One of the tactics that we love using is post-it note grouping and you can do this on your own or with the rest of your team. The key is to pose a question that will get ideas flowing and capture these ideas in whatever form they arise on post-it notes that you can then review and group into relevant categories or link them to each other to create more rounded concepts.

An example of a question that we recently posed in a post-it note brainstorming session is “what are some of the biggest challenges social media managers face?”. Our post-it note answers revolved around factors like effectively responding to complaints on social media, accurately reporting on activity, and funnily enough… generating social media content ideas! 😂

With this perspective, the content that we focused on was more likely to resonate with our target audiences and provide real value to further develop our relationships which is our ultimate objective. Along the way, this process always tends to throw up other ideas for brainstorming sessions and the physical act of writing and moving post-it notes around can help to make new connections between ideas! 🙌

5. Adopt the 6 Thinking Hats Technique

If you want to take this concept up a notch you might consider the Six Thinking Hats Technique developed by Edward de bono, a psychologist, author and inventor. This exercise involves putting yourself into the shoes of another and considering one problem but from six different and distinct perspectives. The premise of the method is that the human brain thinks in a number of distinct ways which can be deliberately challenged. De Bono identifies six distinct directions for this and in each the brain will identify and bring into conscious thought certain aspects of issues being considered. The value of this technique is really in the fact that it forces you to think outside your existing comfort zone. 🧢

Six distinct directions are identified and assigned a colour:

Screen Shot 2018-11-08 at 09.54.03Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Thinking_Hats 

6. Ask your audience

This tactic might sound simple but it’s amazing how few organisations reach out to their audiences to ask what they’re interested in learning more about or need help with. 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♂️

You can ask this question in your regular email communication, on your social media channels themselves, or even in person when working with customers or your audience.

This feedback might surprise you, confirm your existing thoughts, or take you in a completely new direction. Regardless, this is an excellent activity to broaden your thinking!

7. Use social listening

Alternatively, or even to complement this activity, you can also use social listening to understand what your target audiences are talking about.

Set up searches for content related to core topics to understand thoughts and feelings associated with them. An example could be to see what our audiences think to the latest changes some of the social networks make to algorithms or rules. We can then understand what concerns people have and create content to answer common questions and provide reassurance.

For more tips and tricks for social listening click here. 👂

8. Involve colleagues from different departments

We’ve found that if you really want to broaden your thinking it can help to involve colleagues from different teams or departments into your brainstorming session. It’s easy to take certain aspects of your social media activity for granted and get used to doing things in certain ways. But colleagues from across the organisation can be great at challenging our assumptions and presenting new perspectives based on their own experiences. 👥

Not only do you get fresh ideas and perspectives, but it’s also a great opportunity to collaborate more widely across your organisation and learn more about the work that each of you do!

9. Change location or go for a walk!

Finally, if you feel like you’re lacking creativity, just getting a change of scenery can make all the difference. Consider moving away from your desk to go to a meeting room, heading to a local coffee shop, or even taking a walk. A study by Stanford University found that a person’s creative output increases by an average of 60% while walking. 📈

The late co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, regularly used this tactic and was well-known for his walking meetings. More recently Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has been seen holding meetings on the move.

Have you tried walking brainstorming? 🚶‍♀️

Those were our 9 top tips to help jumpstart your creative brainstorming and get your social media content ideas flowing. We’d love to know if you’ve tried any of these tactics and how you got on – please let us know @CrowdControlHQ! 💥

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