The Big List of Content Ideas
In my last post I talked about the importance of planning your content, and even encouraged you to bribe your colleagues with cakes and threats to get them to help you out with ideas. If they’re not playing ball, or if you’re simply stuck at stage three; having a little bit of a brainstorm on your own, then don’t worry, we’re here to help with this big list of content ideas!
Just click on the type of content you’re interested in to be given a lift to that section:
A blog is one of the simplest ways you can engage with your audience. You can update your readers about what’s going on with the business, announce important or interesting industry news, share funny stories and maybe even attract new customers, business and followers. If your blog posts are really good, you’ll even attract links as people share what you’ve got to say.
If you’re stuck for new content for your blog, have a look through these ideas for some inspiration. We’ve even included links to some great examples too; you’re welcome!
The News Update
News updates are a great way to keep your readers up to date with what’s going on with you, your industry, your local area and the rest of the world!
Announce new members of staff, new products, charity involvement, that awesome award you just won, that interview; anything really! It really is possible to bore your readers to death with too many self-promotional blog posts though, so keep them timely and only post when it’s something others may be particularly interested in.
Announce important changes to legislation, cool new features and perks. You could turn this kind of blog into a roundup once a month, or once every couple of months if you don’t have the time to do one too frequently. Here’s an example from our blog where Rob wrote about the recent changes to the wording of Google’s ranking advice article.
If there’s something going on in your local area, it’s worth weighing in. It’s so easy to recap a news story and add your own opinion in there as well. Nottingham Trent University celebrated local students’ success at the Olympics.
The same as above; recap and weigh in! If you have more information about a topic than someone else, why not answer people’s questions? The Guardian host regular live Q&A sessions in which they ask popular public figures searching questions about their personal life as well as their thoughts and opinions on current affairs and culture.
Whether they’re visual or text-based, a guide can be an incredibly useful resource that you can promote time and time again! You’re the expert, so share detailed advice on things you know a lot about! A roofing company could give advice on how to tile a roof; a garden centre could do a guide to looking after a particular type of plant, and so on.
When you’re putting together guides, you need to make sure that you’re creating content to target a broad range of people. If all you post is complicated how-to guides that can will only appeal to those with advanced skills, you’re completely alienating people with no prior experience. For example, the guys over at Moz know pretty much everything when it comes to SEO and Inbound Marketing, but are aware that others might be dipping their toe in the digital world for the first time, so put together a Beginners Guide to SEO.
The advanced version of the beginners guide. Walkthroughs are incredibly comprehensive and will take you, step-by-step, through every last element of a task or job. If you’ve ever played a video game in your life, it’s likely that at some point you’ve used a walkthrough to find that final trophy, or simply just to complete the game!
Simply Business created a really fun, interactive walkthrough for small businesses looking to set up a WordPress site. Each step is clearly documented and it’s packed with everything you need to know without information overload.
How-to guides are incredibly popular, both on the internet and in print, and there are so many ways that you could use them to the advantage of your business! They could come in the form of a video, step-by-step text post, or a series of images. Just make sure that people actually want to know how to make/do the things you’re writing about.
For really beautiful how-to guides, look to A Beautiful Mess to see how it should be done. Their guides are visually stunning and the steps are all really in-depth, exactly what you need when you’re attempting to make treasure out of trash!
For more inspiration, I’d also recommend having a look at SnapGuide. SnapGuide is full of user-generated content showing you how to do everything from make holiday decorations to drilling through a ceramic tile, make lemonade and do yoga! Check out what’s popular, and relevant, to your business and your readers and go from there.
What Not To-Do Guide
For those with a sense of humour put together a guide of what not to do’s. Again, this could be text-based step-by-step instructions, but for posts like these a series of images, GIFs or videos will work exceptionally well! Student Beans put together a fun guide of what not to do on the dancefloor on a night out that will make you smile!
Everyone loves a checklist!
They make difficult tasks simple and save the reader from having to do any brain work to work out what they need to take on holiday/do when moving house etc. Make them pretty, make them useful, and most importantly; make sure they’re big enough to fit a tick in the box for satisfaction purposes! Once again, Moz tick all the boxes with their awesome International SEO Checklist.
Our friends over at Raven made this downloadable checklist for analysing your SEO competitors. Note how they’ve kept it to a single page, making it easy to print out and work through step by step.
Just like the checklist, everyone loves a list! It won’t take you long to compile a blog post filled with a list of newsletters to sign up to, videos to watch or websites to keep an eye on, but your readers will find it incredibly useful if they’re looking for more information on a certain topic.
Sharing important information from your competitors is also a great way to build relationships and get more social shares. Wayne’s blog, 121 link building posts, is a great example of a list blog, as is Point Blank SEO’s link building strategy blog.
Whether you’re singing the praises of someone who’s done something amazing (climbed a mountain for charity, ate fifteen hotdogs in three minutes so your business could be named hot-dog eating champs 2013, or held a raffle in aid of a local cause) or you’re just sharing a screenshot and a link to your latest Pinterest board, inspirational posts should be heart-warming or interesting – or both!
Who doesn’t love winning? By hosting a competition every now and then, you’re not only rewarding your regular readers for their loyalty, but it’s also a great way to keep them engage, get some brand awareness going and maybe even gain some new readers! Competition posts are sneaky too, as you can ask for an email address in return for their entry to add to your mailing list! Time Out hold regular competitions to win some amazing prizes ranging from tickets festivals and gigs to expensive camera equipment and even cash! All you need to do is answer a simple question and enter your email address, so as a reader why wouldn’t you enter and potentially reward yourself for doing so?
If you’ve never run a competition for your business before, why not check out Amy’s latest post? She loves competitions and has loads of helpful hints and tips for getting your competitions up and running.
Have you been keeping an eye on your blog comments? Kept a note of those customer enquiries? If so, congratulations! You’ve got yourself a ready-written blog post.
Take those questions that you’re asked all the time, and put them, along with a nice in-depth answer into an FAQ blog post. Simple! Once again, we turn to A Beautiful Mess – their FAQ section answers real questions from readers, and keeps them all in one place for people to refer back to, or discover for the first time.
Case studies are a fantastic way of blowing your own trumpet without coming across as self-absorbed. Show how your services or products are being used by people to solve a problem whilst subtly hinting at the other benefits and there you have it – great information for your readers, and some good promotion for you!
As most other blog pots, a case study could be filmed as a video, a short interview in a Q and A style, or a photographic journey.
Ultraframe Conservatories have a nicely organised section on their website that features real-life conservatories that they have constructed at people’s homes. These featured conservatories are great for inspiring potential buyers and showing off how versatile their products are.
Comparison blogs are used by businesses a lot more frequently than you think. Whatever you’re selling (cars, kitchen appliances, rooms in hotels, package holidays, animal beds, roofing tiles, doors – the list is literally endless) you can write a comparison blog. Don’t try to compare too many items or services at once, it’ll just get confusing. Instead, discuss the differences, pros and cons, features, and anything else you can think of, for two similar things. Have a verdict at the end giving your expert opinion on which is the best choice like the guys over at Which? do!
There is always something controversial going on in. Keep your ear to the ground and when you find something that’s causing mixed emotions, get involved!
Writing a blog post about your stance on a controversial matter could encourage lots of comments, which you could then turn into another post. If you’re keen to take it to the next level, you could even host a Google Hangout (remember to include the link in the blog post), record it and then post it as a follow up to the original blog!
Nick Eubanks featured a debate post on his blog, SEO Nick. He posted a conversation between Anthony Pensabene of Content Muse, and himself discussing content strategy, and encouraging other to get involved via the comments section too.
Here at Boom, we love a good round-up, and there’s a reason! A round-up is a valuable piece of content for any business. As part of your job you’re probably reading cool stuff every day (like this blog post!) If something really stands out, save it and at the end of the month, put all of those links into a round-up post with a brief explanation of why you thought it was awesome.
If you’ve attended an industry event, then you could write a recap for the people who were unable to attend. Here’s an example from out blog written by Amy Elliott following our visit to the Content Marketing Show 2013.
This will work as ego and link-bait as people are likely to share your post when they see that you’ve decided to feature them.
Pick of the Month
Similar to the round-up; but with more possibilities. A pick of the month blog post could feature your best selling product from the month, a testimonial that’s singing your praises, a blog post from another person in your niche that was awesome, a book you’ve read!
Amazon get their copywriting editors together once a month to share their favourite books – all of which then benefit from added exposure and, no doubt, increased sales!
We love epic resource posts. They’re helpful, can be used as both ego and link bait, share industry information and help to educate people. What’s not to love? Anthony Pensabene’s ‘Thank You, SEO Far‘ is a mammoth blog filled with helpful resources. If you haven’t read it, or bookmarked it, do; you won’t regret it.
For those who are out to create awesome evergreen content, you should check out Nick Eubank’s ‘Forest of Digital Marketing Resources‘ (it’s much less smutty than you think!) to see how a resource post is done!
If you’re planning on covering a big topic (I’m covering Content Marketing, in-case you hadn’t already guessed!) then creating a series of blog posts that you can eventually pull together into a guide is a good way to keep the fresh content coming.
This is also a good way to break down a topic that would be hard to handle in a single blog post. Your readers are also likely to return to read the following installments.
These seasonal prediction posts usually raise their heads around the holidays. Christmas gift predictions, what the next Apple iPhone will look like, where the next hot holiday destinations will be, are all popular ideas. Don’t be afraid to jump on the bandwagon like Moz did with their 10 predictions for inbound marketing in 2013.
I apologise in advance for the rather sad example that I’m about to give to illustrate this type of post.
A reaction blog post is a good way to show your readers that you’re in tune with what’s going on in your industry and in the news. For a recent example, the incredibly sad death of Glee star Cory Monteith prompted the BBC to write a blog post commemorating the actor and celebrating his work, which struck a chord with people of all ages, the world over.
What’s Awesome Right Now?
If you discover something awesome, write a blog post about it like the guys at SEO Gadget did when they discovered the most amazing content marketing campaign ever.
Don’t be afraid to join in a joke either. Huffington Post gained a lot of kudos for this hilarious addition to an in-joke amongst friends. (Remember – join in wisely! You’re just as likely to get trashed as you are to be praised).
We make friends in real life by sharing stories and experiences, so why doesn’t this apply to online too? The easiest way to engage with your audience is to share something personal about you, or your business. Check out how Screaming Frog told their story to see a really cool way of explaining to their customers why the business exists.
The ‘BuzzFeed’ Style Post
BuzzFeed is popular – super popular! Their visual attractive posts are filled with hilarious, sometimes serious, occasionally heart-breaking stories. Whether it’s depicting a twenty-something’s weekend through the medium of cats, or 33 magnificent ways to entice people into the pub, this style will be popular for a long time coming.
Just remember – don’t over-do it! BuzzFeed already exists; you won’t be able to replace them.
If you work in an industry where there’s a lot of jargon involved, you might like to put together a bit of a jargon buster to help people out. Not only does this hold value for people who are getting into the purchasing funnel, but it will stop them from leaving your site to find out exactly what XYZ is, and potentially not coming back to you.
The Search Engine Marketing Glossary from seobook is a really great example of a comprehensive glossary that’s set out in an easy to use way.
A whitepaper can prove very useful, particularly for businesses who offer services that not everyone may understand. A whitepaper is designed as a guide which will help readers to understand an issue, solve a problem or make a decision. You’ll typically find that the government produces a lot of white papers, but they’re also incredibly helpful when it comes to business-to-business marketing.
Koozai are king when it comes to creating engaging whitepapers. They’re giving away valuable insider information for free, which creates trust between the reader and the business.
Interviewing someone influential in your industry is a really simple way of boosting your blog posts. Whether you film a short interview with the CEO of the company, have a Skype chat that you copy and paste into a blog post afterwards, there are plenty of opportunities to gather some great and interesting information for your readers.
If you’re active on social media you could even host a twitter Q&A session. Pick a date and a time and promote it like crazy. Answer all the questions that are thrown at you, and then collate them into a blog post! You’ve also got an instant outreach list as people love sharing things they’ve been involved in! Make sure you announce the fact that their answers have been turned into a blog post for maximum exposure.
Check out Wayne’s interview with Anthony Pensabene (@ContentMuse). Rae Hoffman (@sugarrae)’s yearly Link Building with the Experts interview is always a long awaited look into the latest trends in the SEO world.
No-one sells your products or services better than your satisfied customers, so get them to submit a review so they can share how happy they are with you.
On the flip-side, fake reviews can be just as beneficial and gain you lots of links. Hamilton Richardson took it on himself to review all of the Mr Men books with hilarious consequences.
The concept behind crowd-sourcing is simple; ask a bunch of people in a particular niche a question (or a series of questions), then gather all the answers into one blog post. Simple. Lots of information and opinions on one topic in one place – it really is that simple! Plus, you’re killing two birds with one stone – ego bait and a great source of information for your readers! Alison used the idea of crowdsourcing in her brilliant Advanced Search Operators Guide.
Refresh your Existing Content
Although creating new content is an exciting opportunity to get stuck into a new project, it’s also important to make sure that your existing content is up to scratch. Spend a little bit of time looking at your blog from the very first post to the most recent and you might be surprised to see how to quality and quantity changes over time. Have a look at what your most popular posts are and give them a revamp. Changing the layout, updating the presentation and refreshing the copy could make an existing post work much harder for you than it currently is.
For example, every two years Moz run a ranking factors study to keep you up to date with what attributes have the strongest association with ranking highly in Google.
If you have no idea what an infographic is, how did you even end up on this page? Infographics are a visual representation of data or knowledge and are designed to get a large amount of information across to a party as quickly as possible.
The internet is now filled with millions of visually dynamic infographics, so why not jump on the bandwagon and get involved?
I’ve got to give a big shout out to the guys over at Cornwall SEO. Last month I chose Lyndon’s ’50 Design Inspirations for 8 types of Infographic’ as my read of the month, and it’s these eight types that make up the bulk of the infographic offerings. Of course, we’ve added in a few of our own too but if you want to see more examples, make sure you check out Lyndon’s article.
A number porn infographic isn’t quite how it sounds, I promise! It’s all about making huge quantities of data easier to digest. These kind of infographics are a very valuable source of information, which when pitched to the right crowd could go down a real treat.
The Flow Chart
Similar to the quizzes they used to have in magazines. The flow chart usually holds little to no informational value but instead is just good fun. When creating a flow chart, make sure you include lots of options, but keep it clean – if it’s too cluttered it’ll be impossible to navigate.
Sometimes, the simple things in life are the best.
The Visual Article
This type of infographic offers you all of the commentary, opinions and facts that you might find in a regular text article but it’s presented in a much, much nicer way! You need to make sure that it’s packed full of fun facts so that your readers (or viewers) go away feeling that they’ve gained something from the three minutes they spent reading it.
This static example above comes from EasyJet and is a great representation of everything that the visual article infographic should stand for. However, if you’re looking to push the boat out, You Vs John Paulson by MahiFX is a great example of an interactive visual article.
A timeline infographic takes the reader on a journey. Whether it’s covering what’s happened in the past, or your predictions for the future, it needs to be something that they’re interested in. Ensure that each section of the timeline is clearly defined otherwise all of your information will blend together and make it difficult to follow. The BBC, National Geographic, NASA have all created awesome timeline infographics and we’d recommend checking out Here Is Today to see how a simple concept can be turned into something interactive:
The Versus Infographic
Simple concept that’s difficult to get right but when done well is fantastic! You’ve probably guessed from the name but the versus infographic simply compares and contrasts the similarities and differences between two things. An interesting subject, humour and kick-ass design are a must to make this work.
Whilst the above example from Geek in Heels isn’t exactly an infographic, it is nicely presented and highlights the differences between men and women. An alternative example would be this cool Marvel Vs Disney infographic over at Curse of the Moon. Sadly it’s written in Spanish, but you’ll see why we’ve included it; the visuals are great!
The Helpful Infographic
The helpful infographic holds genuine value for the reader. It’s something that’s likely to be printed out and pinned to fridges and walls and glued to the front of books. You’ve probably seen this example a million times but it’s the perfect example of a helpful infographic that’s gone viral:
What’s cool about this infographic from Everest is that they’ve designed it so that it can be broken down into separate parts with Metric Conversions, Meat Cuts, Cooking Time, and Storage all downloadable as individual A4 sheets – now that’s clever design!
The Photographic Infographic
These infographics can be some of the most visually appealing, but they’re also the hardest to produce! You need to be able to source (or take) photographs that exactly represent the point you’re trying to make.
Fat or Fiction have created one of my favourite interactive photographic infographics (try saying that fast three times!) of all time. Not just because it’s all to do with yummy food, though I have to admit it is a part of it. It’s because it’s something I’m interested in, is nutritional information displayed in a really interesting way and is full of facts I didn’t know!
Forget the pie charts and bar graphs of yesteryear, data visualisation infographics are the way forwards when it comes to presenting a tonne of data in an interesting way. As with all infographics, make sure your point is clear and your data is easy to digest. Don’t try and cram too much information into one of these infographics, it’ll just end up confusing the reader.
Unsurprisingly, the guys at Information is Beautiful know a thing or two about making data look pretty. The above example is an easy to absorb explanation of how much money musicians make online, whilst the colours in culture visualisation was so awesome that they turned it into a high-res poster!
We’re not going to lie; taking your infographic from static to interactive takes time and money. It’s worth it though if you’re creating something that people are likely to be genuinely interested in.
The Leeds Building Society built the interactive infographic above to highlight how much we could save if we cut down excessive spending on day-today products. It’s a serious matter, but covered in fun way which makes this infographic successful. The same can be said for Evo Energy’s UK Energy Guide; it’s pretty, packed full of information that directly affects us, and is fun to play around with.
Very similar to the interactive infographic except there are fewer opportunities for the reader to engage with the information on the page. HTML5 infographics tend to include a lot of moving parts, but you still scroll down like you would with a normal webpage. The production costs are slightly less for this compared to the interactive ones, so they’re great for making the transition from static information to moving and interactive.
Evans Halshaw created this slick html5 infographic in celebration of the latest Bond film, Skyfall:
Okay, so perhaps it’s not actually called an ‘info-gif’, so if you’ve got a better name for it, we’d love to hear it!
The info-gif is a pretty neat piece of content that, if you hadn’t already guessed, combines the data conveyed by infographic, with the animation of a .gif! It is different to a HTML5 infographic, as you don’t have to trigger any actions in order to see the animation (such as scrolling or clicking). The guys over at Jacob Neal know a thing or two about creating these info-gifs. Their Cheetah: Nature’s Speed Machine uses super-subtle animation to help illustrate their point, but it’s the How a Car Engine Works info-gif that first caught our attention!
An info-gif is a great way to animate a particularly complex process (such as the inner workings of a car engine) or to add interest to an otherwise fairly dull graphic.
A picture speaks a thousand words, so when you don’t have time to write, get some images on the go!
Find a picture, add a witty caption, use it in your blog to emphasise your opinion. Job done! You can use the meme generator to make your own if nothing that already exists suits your needs.
GIF’s are popular; fact. They’re also incredibly easy to create and can be used to illustrate any point that you want to make. For example, Chris Dyson (@ChrisLDyson) shows the link building process in GIF form. To which Barrie Moran (@barriemoran) responded in kind with ‘Link Penalty and Removal’ in GIF form.
Who doesn’t love a photo-shopped image? Whether it’s just for a bit of fun (just Google ‘celebrities riding invisible bikes’ and you’ll see what we mean) or to make a point, a little bit of photoshop can go a long way. Just make sure you’re not breaking any copyright or infringement laws if you decide to get creative. Thumbs and Ammo get it right with their playful take on fighting crime with a positive attitude.
As the ‘sharks om the mall’ image above proves, not everything you see on the internet is true; but it might get a whole lot of attention!
It’s worth nothing that amazing photos that aren’t photo-shopped also get a lot of attention.
Nobody sells your products better than your satisfied customers! If they’re willing, get them to film a testimonial or review and put it on your site. 37 Signals have arranged their testimonials in a really attractive way; showing the scope of people that use their services in an interesting way.
How-to guides, step by step instructions, testimonials, meet the team, interviews, conferences and talks; you can film pretty much anything and turn it into a video for you blog or YouTube channel. You could even use humour; the Union-Tribune filmed an ad for their job-seekers section that went viral shortly after it appeared online.
We can’t talk about videos and not include the infamous Whiteboard Fridays hosted by Rand Fishkin. The concept is simple, but the hype around the whiteboard Friday is huge.
Embed a Storify
Storify is a great way of collecting media from across the web and presenting in an attractive, and easily digestible way. You can use comments made on social media, news stories, websites and even images to create your storify before adding your own commentary. You can then embed the storify story anywhere, and it notifies all of the people you’ve quotes so they will know that they’re a part of something you’ve created.
Gozde used an embedded storify to present a round-up of all the Penguin 2.0 gossip and news.
Embed a Tweet
You can embed tweets right into the heart of any article that you’re writing to help emphasise a point. If the tweet has any media attached to it, such as photos, videos and article summaries, then these will appear too. The best part is that the embedded tweet will be interactive, allowing your readers to favourite, retweet and share, all from your blog. The retweet and favourite statics also update in real time!
— Boom Online (@boomweb) July 19, 2013
Got a slideshow, presentation, PDF, webinar or word document you want to share with the world? Upload it to Slideshare and the 60 million monthly viewers will have access to it! The sharing options make it really easy for people to spread the word about your work. Have a look at The Future of Ranking to see what a great Slideshare presentation looks like.
Humans are visual beings, we react and remember things best when there are stories and images attached to it. Whether you’re making a presentation, or are simply looking for a more dynamic way to get a large amount of information across to your readers in an easily digestible way (that isn’t an infographic) then perhaps you should consider using a tool like Prezi. Prezi describes itself as “a virtual whiteboard that transforms presentations from monologues into conversations: enabling people to see, understand, and remember ideas.” What’s not to love?
In a similar way to Slideshare, once you’ve created your presentation it becomes visible to other users allowing you to get it in front of plenty of eyes. The ability to embed the Prezi also means that once you’ve given your presentation, you also have some great content for you blog too! I really like the Prezi below from Missing Link (who also happen to have a really fun loading page for their website), but there are loads of incredible presentations just waiting to be discovered.
Animation never goes out of style. If you’ve got a story you want to share, or a situation you can’t stage, get some cartoons to act it out!
Hitreach offer a weekly comic strip called Digital Rockstars, that documents the goings-on in a typical digital agency, whilst The Oatmeal offers sketches on every subject that are sure to inspire you.
Embed a Pinterest Board
I am a huge fan of anything you can embed. So when Pinterest announced that you can now embed Pinterest boards, I was all over it!
Pinterest is an excellent way to gather user-generated content. You can create a board and then invite other people to pin to it for you. For example, if you were a restaurant you could create a ‘Dessert Recipes’ board and then invite food bloggers to pin their favourite recipes to the board. Then you simply embed the beautiful board into a blog post for instant content – how easy is that? The best part is, as you add more pins to your board, the embedded board automatically updates!
HTML5 Articles (Parallax Scrolling Websites)
I love HTML5 articles. The scrolling backgrounds and interactive icons can turn an otherwise dull text article into something that you experience and engage with. Boring text articles become a thing of the past with HTML5. This would be great for transforming a review or report into something shareable, or you could use it to illustrate an ‘our story’ or ‘meet the team’ page. The incredibly talented Luke Twyman of White Vinyl Design created this HTML5 interactive data visualisation for the gates notes, which is worth checking out! I also fell in love with the beautiful ‘you are what you ride’ piece by Cyclemon and the Arnold Clarke ‘Saving Challenge‘ kept us interested all the way to the end! (I want to give a huge shout out to Creativebloq for their roundup of 33 examples of parallax scrolling websites where I found these examples).
Not everyone will be in an industry where this is possible, but if you can collaborate with artists or designers who will create a unique design just for you, then you’re on to a winner! You can then use these unique items as prizes in a competition, or sell them for a charity raffle (if they’re physical objects), or simply use them to market your brand.
The Fox is Black are running a Desktop Wallpaper Project where different artists and designers create free to download wallpapers for computers, tablets and phones. Not only does this provide the artist with exposure, but the artist is also likely to promote their design too, raising awareness for both the company and the individual!
Embed a Facebook Post
When I said I like embedding things, I meant it! Embedding a Facebook post in to a blog post can help illustrate a point and direct people to your social channels. Embedding a Facebook post is easy, simply click on the little drop down arrow in the top right hand corner of the post you want to embed and select the ’embed’ option. Copy the code and there you have it!
As people interact with the post, the embedded post will update too – so you don’t even have to check back and update the code when a new person comments on, likes, or shares the post!
Embed a Google+ Post
Many of us have a love hate relationship with Google+. Although there is no confirmation from Google that using their own social network will boost your search engine rankings, it is predicted that it will in the future, so you may as well start using it now! Amy Elliott experimented with embedding Google+ posts in her ‘Getting over the Fear of Google+‘ blog post, and the process is identical to embedding a Facebook post.
Got something to say? Then say it! People listen to information all the time; on the radio, on their generic mp3 device, when they’re commuting, whilst they’re working and when they’re at home. Make use of all the open ears and get your story heard.
Podcasts are bite-sized snippets of information that are made available on the internet for you to download to your generic music device, computer, or phone to listen to on the go.
Unlike the radio, with a podcast you don’t have to wait for something interesting to come on, as you’re choosing what you listen to. People who create podcasts, also known as ‘podcasters’ are free from corporate radio and broadcast regulations, which is why you’ll find such a broad range of topics being covered.
Podcasts can be used to impart information and advice, update on industry topics, to make a connection with your customers and many more.
On November 4th 2013 Google announced the introduction of their latest concept – Helpouts. Helpouts are a new way to get, and give, help and information over a live video stream. During the Helpout, individuals can ask professionals questions and even share their computer screen, record the Helpout or collaboratively edit a presentation! Whilst you may not actually be able to host the helpout on your blog or site, this is a great way to get to know your customer base, and build yourself up as an authority in your niche!
Sometimes reality just doesn’t give us enough freedom to express ourselves. When this situation occurs, the next best thing is just to fake it!
(BEWARE: You could get in trouble for faking things. Make sure you have the correct permissions before producing anything fake, and always include a disclaimer to cover your back)
If you can think it, you can make it! Fake websites are a great way of generating online, and offline, chatter. A great example of creating a fake website comes courtesy of Monsters Inc. With the prequel ‘Monsters University’ being released this week, Pixar created a fake university website where you can enquire about admissions, find out all about campus life, browse the courses on offer, meet the staff and even catch up with the latest news and events. The student portal login page is a particularly nice addition!
Fake Ecommerce Pages
Selling something that doesn’t exist in return for links. Sounds like genius, right? It can work wonders when you’re ‘selling’ something that people have a soft spot for, or it just so ridiculous that you can’t believe it’s for sale. Unicorn meat in a can anyone? Your own private Utopia? Nope, how about Boo’s door from Monsters Inc?
Be careful. You need to make sure that if someone does try to buy your fake product that you present them with a fake 404 page that prevents them from actually purchasing your non-existent product. Which brings us nicely on to…
Fake 404 Pages
The guys over at BuzzFeed have kindly put together a list of 28 of the best 404 and error pages which is a great place to start looking for inspiration. My personal favourite is the one on the White Spark site; I know not a single one of you will be able to deny that you clicked ‘good riddance’ first, just to see what happened…
Don’t be afraid to create seasonal 404 pages just for the fun of it! Business Casual Copywriting created this interactive Halloween 404 page which had the whole Boom team in stitches and generated social shares and links!
Want to create content that’s a little out of the ordinary? Give these ideas a go…
That’s right, we said Easter Egg. In media terms, an Easter egg isn’t chocolate; it’s an intentional joke or hidden message makes an appearance in computer programmes! If you’re still confused, check out the following sites and type in the Konami code (↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B A) and you’ll see what we mean! You will probably be surprised at some of the website that have Easter eggs on their site; visit the UK Vogue site and enter the Konami code a couple of times, you’ll love the results! Chris Gilchrist’s Easter egg over at Hitreach isn’t for the fainthearted and we will not be accepting any responsibility for the nightmares that follow. You have been warned.
Wayne recently wrote a blog for Boom on why creative team pages are beneficial for SEO as well as attracting links. A fun team page will not only help your clients and customers see who they’re dealing with (and help to build those all-important relationships) but it also conveys the creativity that resides within your team, showcases their skills and makes your business appear approachable. If you do something a little different with your team pages, then they could even net you some links too!
Wayne’s already collated 13 awesome examples of team pages, so check them all out here, but we had our attention drawn to the Kickstarter team page which features a moving panorama of all the employees!
Write an E-Book
E-books have taken the world by storm thanks to the introduction of electronic readers and the fact that we’re spending more time in front of a screen than ever! If you’ve been busy writing a series of guides for your blog, why not collate them and turn them into a downloadable e-book? Not only do you eliminate many of the costs associated with traditional publishing, but you’ll be able to reach a wider audience as people download whilst commuting, at work and at home.
Hubspot have written a number of e-books and whitepapers on a wide range of marketing topics. If you’re going to do something, you may as well do it right.
If you’re lucky enough to be in an industry where there are lots of talks, conferences, meet-ups, showcases and other social events, why not create a calendar where you can add all of these important dates and events and then share it with your following? Experience Nottinghamshire have a fairly comprehensive events calendar on their site, which is helpful for those looking for things to do in and around the city.
If you’ve got the time, why not make something fun? Creative robots.txt is just that, a bit of fun. It’s usually used to tell search engines what pages on your site to index (for a more in-depth explanation of what robots, spiders and bots do check out Amy E’s post).
Explicitly Me used their robots.txt to tell a story, Malcolm Coles drew a face, David Naylor has a list of fictional characters, and Shark SEO have what appears to be a cat playing a keyboard. With robots.txt, pretty much anything goes!
Easy to make, when you know how. Interactive maps will engage your readers with something that’s otherwise very static. They can come in all kinds of forms; educational, helpful, interesting, funny… you name it! One of my personal favourites is this map of the dead that’s designed to help you pick the best places to bunk up during a zombie apocalypse. If surviving the end of the world isn’t your thing, then hoteliers Swissôtel have put together a really helpful guide to etiquette across the world that will ensure you don’t get kicked out of a restaurant for being rude!
By building an interactive map, you could also prevent thousands of people being embarrassed like this.
Who doesn’t love having fun? In this section, I’ll take a look at some of the more light-hearted content ideas ranging from interactive videos to friendly competitions, and how you could harness the power of interactivity to engage your audience.
Seriously, who doesn’t love playing games? If you’ve got the time/budget/talent, making a game could be seriously worth your while. You need to be confident that your concept will amuse and entertain people before going all out though, otherwise you could end up with a fairly expensive flop on your hands.
Google frequently makes use of games in their Google Doodles. In fact, in 2011, the Les Paul doodle was strummed for 5.35 million hours in total! Users could even record their song, and generate a unique URL which they could share on social media so others could listen to their musical creations. In just 48 hours in the US, over 40 million songs equaling a whopping 5.1 years worth of music were recorded and the songs were played back 870,000 times. Don’t leave games to Google though – UsVsTh3m created the hilarious Super Tory Boy game inspired by Mario:
The BBC are also really good at making games. From jigsaws to quizzes and full-blown adventure games, they’ve got it all covered. However, they don’t really make the most of the fact that people like games – once you complete one of their games they don’t give you the chance to share the fact that you’ve completed it! Even a little reward, for example – a congratulations from Matt Smith would be enough to get people more engaged. Instead, they give you an answer that there was no question for in the first place:
Make sure that at the end of your game, you give the user the opportunity to share their score with their friends on social media! For maximum effect, make sure there’s a competitive element in there too: ‘Can You Beat My Score?’ is a challenge many people won’t be able to resist!
If you want to quickly engage with your online fan base then what better than allowing them to personalise your content? Take, for example, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D site. Not only can you get more interesting info about each of the characters, and the show, but you can even make your own I.D Badge (Don’t even try and pretend that you’re not going to go and make yours!) The social sharing metrics on this site are awesome, with over 1.8 million Facebook likes and 359,000 check-ins…
With everyone going crazy over Breaking Bad, the guys over at AMC made a name lab. The concept is pretty simple; hook the game up to your Facebook and it will generate you a Breaking Bad-style profile picture and cover photo which you can download and share on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. This just goes to show that the idea doesn’t have to be complex, and why you should never underestimate the power of novelty!
With Christmas just around the corner (at the time of writing, at least!) it makes sense for brands, companies and retailers to make the most of the holiday spirit and create some seasonal content. I don’t just mean sticking a picture of a snowman in the middle of your latest blog post, I’m talking interactive advent calendars, like this one from the Royal Shakespeare Company. Every day, you get access to a new sneak peek behind the scenes of the day to day running of operations, which is likely to encourage fans of the theatre to return every day (and if they happen to book some tickets whilst they’re on the site, all the better)!
Don’t be afraid to have a little bit of fun with this kind of content! I’ve seen examples of interactive advent calendars where you get a new offer every day (10% off a particular range, 25% off another day, free delivery that day only), to ones where there’s simply a nicely designed sentiment behind each window. I really like the idea behind Shape Designs’ illustration advent calendar, and even the Gorillaz are giving something back to their fans with their calendar. So mix it up!
Videos are great, but interactive videos are better!
The BBC recently made an interactive video for Sherlock using wireWAX which describes itself as the world’s first taggable video tool. By clicking on the hot spots within the video you can gain access to exclusive content such as photos and deleted scenes – cool, right?
Creative Landing Pages
Having some fun with your landing pages is a sure-fire way to get people talking, linking and sharing your website! How about Hema’s page that collapses (hint: knock over the beaker!) or asking Google to do a barrel roll, tilt, or define anagram? Shoot up the Google ‘O’s when you search ‘Zerg rush‘ and image search ‘Atari breakout‘ for some fun – have your mouse at the ready for this one! As an office, we spent a good half an hour or so playing Atari and ‘Bacon number’ (type any celebrities name followed by Bacon number into Google – we dare you to try and find anyone over a 4)! Whilst it might not generate conversions or sales, content like this will definitely get people talking about you and potentially linking to you too!
A little friendly competition never hurt anyone – in fact it can spur people on to getting involved as they want to better their friend’s efforts! I know that I’ve already included competitions under the ‘blogs’ category at the beginning of this post, but by making your competition interactive, you’re taking it to the next level! Asking people to make/design/do something gets them invested in your brand, and after they’ve gone through all that effort to make/design/do they’re likely to want to brag about it!
Take Coca-Cola’s Sweater Generator, for example. The idea behind it is fun – design your own hideously tacky Christmas jumper and share your creation with your friends. But wait, there’s more! The 100 jumpers with the most social likes and votes would then be lovingly made by machines and shipped to their creators. If their aim with this piece of content was to gain more social chatter – I’m pretty sure they succeeded!
There are plenty of ways for you to jump on the friendly competition bandwagon – if you’re a fashion retailer why not get people to design a handbag and make it for the winner, restaurants could get people to plan their perfect date night and give the winner the chance to live it out, the opportunities are endless – just make sure your prize is something worth going through all the effort for. There’s nothing worse than the prize being offered not reflecting the effort expended.
All Out Interactive Content
What happens when you combine a little bit of everything; straight-up games, interactive video, and parallax scrolling? This.
Phew! That’s it for my big list of content ideas! If you’ve seen any examples of any of the ideas that I’ve listed, please share – you never know, when I refresh this post your idea might just be featured!