To curate, create, or collate..? Sue Llewellyn outlines the benefits of each.

Deciding what to post on your social media accounts can be a huge burden and I’m always astonished when people say “I’ve got nothing to say” or “my life/job isn’t that interesting.” Everyone has something to say, it’s just a question of finding your voice and getting motivated.

So if you have ever found yourself struggling for inspiration here’s a quick guide to content generation.

Start by asking yourself: What does our audience really need or want from us?

What kind of content would be most useful to your customers or clients? What are the most common questions or issues facing your business? What topics are most relevant to your industry? Can you help solve a problem? Could you write a guide to help explain something complicated and showcase your expertise?

Put yourself in their shoes and think how you could be of help, how you can contribute to the conversation and carve out a niche for yourself.  Always look at your content and ask yourself – what’s in it for them (my clients/customers) and why should they care? And remember, keep it short and shareable.

Next think of the 3 Cs:  Collate, Curate or Create.

Collate

This is one aspect of content generation that often gets overlooked. Look at what you’ve already got. Why reinvent the wheel when you may be sitting on a goldmine.  Revisit your archives and see what could be collated, recycled and repurposed.

Have you written a speech, a white paper or a report? Something that could be broken down and turned into shorter and more sharable snippets? Turn a white paper into a tip sheet, an infographic or even a free downloadable e-book.  Share case studies that demonstrate your expertise.

Put your presentations up on Slideshare or extract some key facts and figures from a report and turn these into something useful that you can upload and share.  And think how you can repurpose it into a more visual format – a photo with text overlay; an infographic; a video or even a six-second Vine.

Curate

Curate selected content from others and share the best material you can find. Start by monitoring keywords using Google Alerts or Social Mention and listening to what others are sharing and talking about.

Find popular content on Buzzsumo so you can see what topics are being widely shared. If you spot something interesting and relevant then share it with your followers.

Make Twitter and Facebook lists to follow others who share interesting content. Retweet the best; add comment and context to other people’s pieces and be generous with your credit.

Create

If you want to create your own content, where should you look for inspiration? It’s easy if you think what you’re passionate about. What makes you and your business tick? Or ask your colleagues and customers. If you want to try your hand at blogging, draft a series of short posts with a human angle and share these on your website or on LinkedIn Pulse or Medium then share links to it on Twitter and LinkedIn and remember to have a clear voice, something that gives the reader a sense of your personality. It helps to sound like you’re having a conversation, not issuing a press release, so don’t be too formal.

One way of pretty much guaranteeing more engagement is to add a photo or some kind of interesting visual. Avoid boring stock shots if possible and take something yourself. Or create interesting graphics that look really professional using Canva which is a brilliant and free tool.

Next? Discoverability and distribution

Once you’ve collated, curated or created your content, you need to think about how others will find what you’re sharing. Don’t forget about discoverability and distribution. Use relevant hashtags and reach out to influencers or others who might be interested in these topics.

Make sure you hone your headline to perfection. Keep it short and shareable, something that will encourage others to click and share.

Think carefully about your choice of language here. Use action words like discover, explore, download, or compare or adjectives like essential, effortless, free, and easiest. Use strong emotional drivers to make people care and share and above all make sure it’s optimised for mobile. But if you’re really stuck for inspiration you could always try a headline generator

And finally, if you’re still stuck for inspiration, look at what others are sharing and if you see something that sparks an idea or could work for your business then save it in an ‘ideas file’ and consider how you could ‘Adopt, Adapt and Improve’ it later.

Do you prefer to curate than create? Where do you look for inspiration when you get stuck? Let us and others know in the comments below.  And good luck!

*Image credit: Writer’s block, by Drew Coffman