10419523_810492945636635_8298786652795375196_nThis question came from Sara

There are actually three parts to the answer to this question:

1. Where to get ideas

There is few things more terrifying than the blank page when you have to fill it with prose – especially if it’s supposed to be world-altering prose. That’s why you’re on social media to promote your organization in the first place.

If you already have a clear idea of what you want to say and how to say it – you’re not the person reading this post. NO, this post is for the person that has to post something and hasn’t the slightest idea of what to post. For you, here is what you need to do:

  • Identify your niche – Hopefully, you’ve already done this – you know what subject you want to post about. Notice that I said subject – singular – you need to focus. For example, Me2 Solutions focuses on business and crisis management because they are so entwined.
  • Identify other bloggers or writers in that niche – Picasso said “Good artists imitate, great artists steal.” Posting something that someone else has posted is imitation and rarely serves your purpose very well – why read your posts when your reader can get the original? Use others’ posts as a spring broad for your posts – do you agree or disagree with their post? Why? Pick a fight with the other post – your readers will find that interesting.
  • Follow the news – What’s being reported in the news about the subject you want to post about? When a story breaks, do you comment on the story? For examples see Meredith’s post on Honest Press Releases: How AOL’s Tim Armstrong Looked Like a Hypocrite and Alienated Employees or our post on Chevron, Fracking, and Free Pizza: Inspiring Confidence in a Crisis.
  • Google Alerts are a great tool for tracking news and content relating to your niche and they are easy to implement. At the least, you should create Google Alerts for yourself, your company and your products or services.
  • Use history – You should be able to find lots of examples in history that apply to your subject – use the historic incidents as example and apply the concepts to modern situations. See our posts on Real Crises in History: Remember the Alamo! or Are you a Henry or a Marie?.
  • Questions you are asked by friends and clients – A lot of your posts should come from questions that friends and customers ask you. After all, if one person is asking a question, there’s probably others who have the same question. Posting answers to questions also establishes you as an authority on the subject – you’re writing and posting answers so you must be an expert! (It’s a circular argument, but it’s how people think – take advantage of it.) An example is Meredith’s post, Q&A: Help! I Have Too Many Ideas and Too Much to Do! – and, of course, this post which came from our SpokaneAMA.
  • Holidays are often times that can add a different tone to what you write about. You can write about how the specific holiday affects your niche or business. You can also use the holiday to write about how holiday makes things different. The options will depend on your niche and style, but holidays can add a lot of fun to your writing, particularly the less celebrated holidays – Talk Like a Pirate Day, anyone?

2. How to corral ideas for posts

So you are starting to get ideas for posts – how do you keep track of them?

I keep a Word file with notes for posts.

Deanna mentioned that she uses Evernote.com, Feedly.com, and IFTTT.com. Feedly.com is where she has all her RSS feeds and newsletters and it allows her to quickly review all of them without having to open and read each one. IFTTT.com (If This Then That) allows you to tag individual items in Feedly and then puts them in Evernote.com for later reference.

Whatever you use will depend on your preferences and the way you work. And don’t be afraid of trying something – if it doesn’t work, scrap it and try something else.

3. Recycle material

Finally, get rid of the idea that you have to constantly create original content. Let me illustrate this concept with an example:

  • Meredith gave a talk to the National Association of Women Business Owners.
  • She posted videos of the talk on YouTube. (http://me2-solutions.com/free-stuff/videos)
  • She could strip the audio from the talk and make a podcast. (http://me2-solutions.com/free-stuff/podcasts)
  • She could use the transcript to generate blog posts.
  • She collected multiple blog posts and create an eBook.
  • She could collect the eBooks, videos and podcasts and turn them into a course.

One talk could result in at least six different opportunities for posts and products. And we haven’t even discussed the multiple social media outlets that can be exploited. Now there is work involved in converting from one media to another, but it’s generally easier to modify than to create from nothing.

A physicist by trade, author by choice, a born teacher, a retired veteran, and an adamant problem solver, Frank has helped the White House, federal agencies, military offices, historical museums, manufacturers, and over 250 technology startups get stuff done, communicate effectively, and find practical solutions that work for them. In his spare time, he makes sawdust and watches Godzilla movies.