How to kick up new content ideas

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Photo by Edu Lauton
Photo by Edu Lauton

Speakers at the Internet Summit 2016 in Raleigh, NC delivered some fresh idea-starters on the quick.

There’s nothing I love more than a fresh idea. Really. It’s my favorite thing. At its best, a new idea has never been done before. There’s nothing to check, or grade it against. It’s the risky newness that I love.

But sometimes when the daily grind is turning its wheel, you just need something fresh that works. So when I scanned the program at #ISUM16 this year, I went looking for ways to get new content ideas on the quick. A common theme at these things, always, is: “You need great content to rank.” A common thing I hear at work, is: “We need more ideas. Now.”

But nobody really tells you how to do that. Over the two-day conference I heard more than a few things that changed the way I’ll ideate forever, and I packaged them up, just for you.

Google it. Seriously.

Some of the best content ideas show up in the search box with “Google’s People Also Ask” feature, said Arnie Kuenn, CEO of Vertical Measures, a Content Marketing agency. Think of a few keywords related to the topic, product, or idea. Then put your cursor in the box, play with a few words, and see what Google suggests.


google screenshot suggest
Try the Google suggest feature.

Try it out

  • What other words would a Googler use to find the content you’re trying to create?


Do a quick video

You can go from idea to publish really quickly with Facebook’s video tools. The Mannequin Challenge is a video trend that anyone with a camera can pull off. You just need a smartphone and everybody in the office to chill for a while.

This one from the Grand Ole Opry, I love. Facebook’s Industry Manager for Global Marketing solutions, Chris Sanders, says you’ve got about 3 seconds to get someone’s attention. So don’t waste those first three seconds on a “fade in.”

  • How many different ways could you use Instagram’s Boomerang to animate a product for your client?
  • Setting up for a photo shoot? Use Instagram’s Hyperlapse.


Look at something that performed really well and duplicate it

It’s really that simple. You don’t always need to go all Rick Rubin on it and meditate for days. Review the article or idea that performed really well and make it happen for something else.

  • Get a report on the five top performing articles for your client. Was it a “How To?” A cool profile on a trending topic, like tiny houses, or a short profile on a thought leader? How would you do something similar for story ideas you’ve been tasked with?


Start with “What if?”

Hassan Ali has a super rad job. The Creative Marketing Director for Onion Inc. shared a piece of native advertising his group did for Scott’s lawn care. Fertilizer for your lawn doesn’t exactly scream “hipster” or “millennial,” so Ali said they started with “What do millenial’s love? They love Airbnb.” The brainstorm that started with “What if?” ended with a spoof on Airbnb called Lawnbnb.



  • Think about ideas or questions, that you’d actually see yourself posting on Facebook. Ali suggested posting a few vague queries on your own personal page, to gauge interest, but not give away the idea.
  • Think about how your idea might appear if it was published on another publisher, like Buzzfeed, The Onion, or a free publisher, like Medium. What would the headline be?


 Start with the most ridiculous idea you can think of and back down

 Mike Albanese is a comedian, writer, a big buy, and a big thinker, who believes you need to risk everything to get that next big idea. He uses a ladder approach for ideas.

Picture a ladder, leaned up against a wall. If you started climbing up that ladder, you’d start at the bottom and slowly, tentatively climb your way up.

Now try something different. Start at the top of that idea ladder. Start with the most ridiculous thing you can think of and back your way down to the ground. Chances are you’ll end up somewhere completely new.

Albanese showed KMART’s “Ship My Pants” spot, which was so well equally loved and hated the spot was banned. Brookside’s #talkaboutdelicious showed a spokesperson reading snarky tweets in the spot, and responded. Both were risky and effective.

  • What’s the riskiest idea you can think of? Where does it end up when you talk that idea down off the top of the ladder?

Got it? Then get up from your desk. Go for a walk. Get some fresh air. You won’t need a sugar boost from the vending machine to get cranking from here.

I get to do this for a living at Pace Communications. Need some ideas yourself? I’d love to help. Email me at


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