How Brands and Businesses Can Experiment With Their Content More

By Patrick Foster

Are you fresh out of content ideas? Feeling exhausted and uninspired by your current content strategy? Maybe it’s because you haven’t done anything new in awhile…

As a business it’s important to experiment with different content formats and types on a regular basis to avoid getting content fatigue (and boring your audience to tears).

Use these content experimentation ideas to help you get out of your content rut.

Don’t leave it all to the content creators

Great content marketers know that they don’t know everything. Every business that is stuck in a content stalemate needs to zoom out and get more people involved. Content creators need help from business stakeholders and other departments in order to harness internal stories and unearth hidden content gems.

  1. Content teams need to interview senior management teams on a regular basis in order to obtain insight into leadership and current industry challenges. Internal expert interviews are a great way to discover emerging industry trends, and will help brands create exciting, thought-leadership content pieces. Busy executives can be hard to pin down, so using a dictation software like Dragon or getting people to share thoughts on Slack can help with getting information out of people. Don’t focus on getting everything down word-perfect first time round, it’s the ideas that count! (It might also pay off to interview any high-profile associates, customers, or suppliers).
  2. Having an almost journalistic approach to company content strategy and covering events and the local community is a great way to be known for bolder, more engaging content.
  3. Talking to staff is a great idea that will undoubtedly unearth some interesting tales and stories!

Writing about a payment gateway doesn’t sound  at first glance like it would lend itself to very interesting, people-led content, but PayPal have branded their blog as a place for people stories (even calling it ‘Stories’).

By interviewing their staff and associates from around the globe and asking them to share their challenges (transitioning from military service) and triumphs (appearing on Masterchef), PayPal manage to create a sense of community. Their company content is creative, but also simple and down-to-earth, giving individuals, as well as the brand, a voice.

Learn content lessons from PayPal and talk to your staff to find out what people stories are lurking in their midst! You will get some great content, and humanize your brand in the process.

Visual content ideas: Mood boards & lookbooks

The popularization of visual social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram has led to the exponential growth of branded visual content. Embrace this new appetite for the visual and increase visual content as part of your own brand strategy. There is no ‘right or wrong’ kind of visual content, so play around with different formats and ideas.

  1. Have you even tried to create a mood board or dream board for your business? This tactic doesn’t just work for TV designers who are trying to find the perfect rug, it’s also a great content marketing tactic. You can use online tools like gomoodboard.com to create your own, or go old school and use pen and paper to capture ideas. Mood boards can help you plan content, but they’re also a great way to share creative ideas with your audience in order to inspire and engage them.
  2. Infographics have been around for awhile now as a visual marketing tactic; they are a perennially popular content format that are easy to share and use for SEO purposes. The best infographics are data and statistics-led and have a bit of a sense of humor too…
  3. People love to share visual roundup posts and lookbooks so put some design budget into creating your own beautiful content resource.

Pardot created an email design lookbook that people happily  give their email addresses up for – visual content is also a great lead-generation tool. Try to select a theme or topic that your audience might be struggling with right now, and create an evergreen resource that they can keep coming back to.

Almost anything can be told in a visual way – so get drawing and designing!

Have a creative (social) outlet

If your brand communications strategy is so watertight that every tweet goes through eight rounds of edits, you’re hindering creativity and ruining your chances of having a compelling social strategy.  Brand protectionism is important, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing…!

  1. Recognize that social platforms like Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter, have different social rules and that branded content shared on them needs to be less ‘corporate’. Brands who never take a risk with their tone of voice will struggle to make any real headway with social content. (If you need some ammo in order to convince senior management – just show them how your competitors and other businesses ‘behave’ on social).
  2. Even conservative brands can bring a bit of personality to their social feeds by sharing staff stories and images of office life. Social media is the perfect place to loosen up a little, and lift the lid on the people behind the brand. It’s also the perfect place to share good news or seasonal greetings!

UPS have to be careful on social media as they field a lot of customer complaints, but it doesn’t stop them from posting about the “logistics of love” on Valentine’s Day or “elves” at Christmas!  Visual posts and videos are perfect for UPS on Facebook, and they make the most out of the role that they play during seasonal events.

Fun seasonal social posts are a great way to start with experimenting with a more creative brand voice.

Create your own expert podcast(s)

Podcasting is an invaluable way of creating digital content that’s evergreen and engaging. Podcasts easily break down into other forms of content, so they’re usually pretty cost-effective too!

  1. Podcasts are great for creative content recycling. You can package a podcast up as a blog post, or break up longer podcasts into bytesize ‘shorts’. Podcasts can also help support your video strategy. Don’t just podcast and leave it at that, make the most of the awesome resource you’ve just created.
  2. Launching a strongly themed podcast like the TGIM (Thank God It’s Monday) podcast Shopify launched for its small business/entrepreneur audience is a great way to brand your podcast up in a fun way. The TGIM podcasts featured plenty of business influencers, as well as funny skits and outtakes (including some Star Wars jokes). A podcast like TGIM works because it’s perfectly aligned with its target audience.
  3. Another great podcast strategy is to cater to niche industries and cultural phenomena (like Red Cup’s flagship podcast Cult/Tech which covers technology in education and medicine). By catering to a subsection of a larger business audience, you can easily attain expert and influencer status.

Being more creative with branded content pays off – in more engagement,  more shares, and more followers. Make sure you’re still being ambitious with your content creation and get the experts in if you get stuck! What content format do you like the most, and why?

Patrick Foster – Is an ecommerce content marketer and coach, fascinated with all things digital and social. He is a big believer in small businesses with big passion.