Mix It Up: 75 Content Ideas To Keep Visitors Engaged
Tired of writing the same old, boring blog posts over and over again? Get some inspiration from contributor Stoney deGeyter's massive list of content ideas.
I just did a search for “content is king,” and Google produced more than 300 million results. If you have not heard this phrase by now, well, you might just qualify as the person hidden under the biggest rock for the past 10 years!
Regardless of whether you agree with the sentiment, content is undeniably an important part of any well-rounded Web marketing campaign. You can’t succeed at online marketing without content. Period.
But when we hear “content,” we mostly think of text (e.g., a blog post). Text-only content is great, but it doesn’t always make for the most engaging (or shared) content. There are a lot of different types of content that you can produce in both text and non-text format (or a combination thereof) that will help you increase your readers and engagement.
This post will outline five basic content formats and 75 content ideas that will fit one or more of those formats. Each of the content ideas presented below uses a code that corresponds to the content formats. This, along with our Mix It Up Content Planner and the infographic below, will help you produce different kinds of content in different ways.
One final note before we get to it: You can reproduce the same content in multiple formats for distribution via different channels. For example, this post contains text, images and a tool (spreadsheet). Both the tool and the checklist graphic at the end can be published separately from this post via other content streams, giving this content more bang for the buck and increased opportunity to reach a bigger audience.
Five Content Formats
There are five basic formats you can use to create and/or present your content.
- Written (w): Any written content, such as a blog post, tweet, book, ebook or Web page content. This is usually the easiest type of content to produce, as all it takes is a keyboard, some typing skills and the brain power to translate your knowledge to the “page.”
- Video (v): Arguably the most difficult type of content to produce (or at least, to produce with any kind of quality). However, with the resurgence of amateur-quality video that has been getting good traction on the Web, the bar for video is relatively low.
- Audio (a): Get yourself a microphone and some digital recording software, and you have what it takes to produce audio content that can be distributed a number of different ways. Podcasts are making a comeback, or you can even do some live streaming if you like.
- Image (i): With a bit of Photoshop skill, you can easily create some decent images for sharing. Heck, you don’t even need Photoshop. Great images can be made with PowerPoint or with free internet tools such as PicMonkey or Canva. However, once you get into complex things such as infographics and other visual forms of explanation, image creation becomes increasingly difficult and/or time-consuming. But people absolutely love infographics.
- Tool (t): This type of content generally requires specific programming expertise, depending on the type of tool you need. But the good news is, you can generally find cheap programmers online to do just about anything.
75 Content Ideas To Incorporate Into Your Web Marketing Campaign
- Analogies – w, a – Find a way to explain something that people have trouble understanding by putting it into a more relatable context.
- Animated GIFs – i – Even the most basic animation can be a fun share. Create something that makes a point or just makes people smile.
- Answer Questions – w, v, a, i – Answering questions is one surefire way to create content your readers will be interested in. They wouldn’t ask if they didn’t care.
- Bios – w, v – People are interested in people, especially if their experiences or areas of expertise relate to something they want to know more about. Whether you’re writing team bios or bios of important people in your industry, this is a great way to connect with reader interest.
- Book Reviews – w, v, a – You can build a pretty strong following doing nothing but writing book reviews. This is a way to connect yourself with other authorities while becoming one in your own right.
- Cartoons – i – You don’t necessarily need to be a master artist to create a comic — just have a good idea with a great punchline. (And at least a little bit of drawing skill.)
- Case Studies – w – Case studies are a great way to show proof of a concept or idea. Generally, these are written but have a healthy dose of visuals, usually in the form of charts and graphs, but certainly not limited to that.
- Checklists – w, i – Who doesn’t love a checklist? These are great for walking someone through a process step-by-step, so they know exactly what to do.
- Company News – w, v, a – News isn’t the most exciting content, but it can be valuable, especially to those in your audience who want to stay up-to-date with your company.
- Contest – w, v, a, i, t – Who doesn’t love a good contest? While instructions for contests are typically in written format, the contest itself can produce content in any and all formats (e.g., contest for best tool, best video).
- Contrarian – w, v, a – Is the rest of the world in lockstep with one particular viewpoint? Maybe you need to tackle it from the opposite side.
- Core Values – w, v, a, i – Are your core values important to your company? Chances are they’ll be important to visitors looking for reasons to trust you.
- Creative Product Uses – w, v, a, i, t – Writing about or having a contest for creative ways to use your (or anybody’s) products can be a lot of fun and produce some really great content and ideas.
- Curation – w, v, a, i, t – Curating content from other sources is a great way to publish awesome content with minimal effort. Just look for something someone else produced that is worthy of highlighting. While most curators stick to written content, you can curate content in all different formats.
- Ebook – w – Turn your expertise into a short ebook. A series of blog posts or an in-depth how-to are often prime candidates for content in this format.
- Educational – w, v, a, i – Content can have many different purposes, but educational content generally provides the most lasting value.
- Embedded Tweets – w, i – Sometimes a string of embedded tweets can tell a story or provide great educational value. You just need to come up with the topic and find and/or solicit the tweets to embed.
- Event Info – w, v, a, i – Readers are often interested in events that are related to their area of interest. You don’t have to host the event, but you can produce content related to it.
- Explainer Images – i – Not to be confused with infographics (below), these are images designed specifically to explain something. They’re usually in the form of cartoon imagery, providing a visual explanation of a complex concept.
- Explainer Videos – v – Exactly the same as explainer images, only with moving parts.
- FAQs – w, v, i – Frequently asked questions, whether answered in one piece or in multiple pieces, provides answers to questions your audience typically asks.
- Giveaways – w, v, t – People love free stuff, so as long as you have something of value (or fun) to give away, you can either produce content about the giveaway or make that the giveaway.
- Graphics – i – Graphics of any sort add wonderful visual flair. Whether it’s an image, an image with a small amount of text or a graphic illustration, they can all be gold for visitors.
- Guest Posts – w, i – While it’s always good to share your own expertise, sometimes it’s nice to hear from someone else. Let them do the dirty work for a change.
- Guides – w, v, i – Readers love a good guide that explains what they need to know. These can be in just about any format (ebook, post, image, etc.). Just make sure it’s robust enough to have value.
- Hosted Events – w, v, a, i – Hosting an event can produce all kinds of great content. Not only do you get the value of the event promotion, but you can make sure to generate content about the event as it unfolds or after.
- How-Tos – w, v, a, i, t – Any time you can explain or show people how to do something right or provide the tool for that purpose, you’re going to have a big win on your hands.
- Human Interest Stories – w, v, a, i – Human interest stories can be presented in a number of ways. Visuals and video tend to make the biggest impact, but short of those, text and audio work just fine.
- Hypotheticals – w, v, a, i – Giving hypothetical situations and explaining how you would handle them is an incredible way to help people learn how to adapt and find solutions to a number of unforeseen problems.
- Ideas – w, a, i – Have an idea for a tool, solution or process? Tell it to the world and see what they think. Who knows, you may find that it already exists or get valuable feedback on how to turn the idea into reality.
- Infographics – i – This is a great way to put together a visual representation of data. Infographics can be inserted into a blog post and/or shared separately for exposure to different audiences.
- Instructions – w, v, a, i – Instructions are different from checklists. Where checklists will usually tell you what to do, instructions will tell you how to do it. Good instructions make complex executions easy.
- Interviews – w, v, a – People love being interviewed. You just need to set it up, write the questions and publish the results. Not only is it good content, but the interviewee is often willing to help promote it.
- Kudos – w, v, a, i – Everyone loves being praised for their hard work. Look for opportunities to shed some light on something of value that someone else produced, and you’ll have great, shareable content.
- Lists – w, i – Not to be confused with checklists, writing up a good list (such as this post) creates a wealth of valuable content and ideas for your readers.
- Live Tweets – w, i – Any event that you are participating in can be live tweeted, providing added exposure for the event and value to your readers.
- Live Stream – v, a – Similar to tweeting, you can also live-stream an event either with video or audio. Or simply live-stream a set of instructions or you executing a checklist for value of a different kind.
- Maps – i, t – Maps provide content (or a tool) that gives your viewers an interesting visual representation that shows how to find whatever it is they are looking for. Whether a business location, types of events or a treasure, maps are great resources.
- Meme – w, i – Memes are usually done in text or image format and are a good way to have a little fun while providing something of value. Just don’t be cheesy about it. Oh wait, aren’t all memes cheesy?
- Music Videos – v – Videos take quite a bit of work, but they can be a way to do something fun and noticeable at the same time. If you’re going to do one, however, try to produce something of quality. Otherwise, instead of producing value, you’ll produce unintended laughs.
- News/Press Releases – w – While these aren’t the most exciting things to produce, they do have their place and value. Especially if you use them to highlight a significant achievement or product. No news is bad news. (Unless it IS bad news.)
- Newsjacking – w, v, a, i – Is something big hitting the news networks? Look for a way to tie that into your product or service and capitalize on it while it’s hot. Just be careful not to capitalize on disasters. #notcool
- Newsletters – w – Newsletters don’t even have to be original content. They can just point your subscribers to content that has already been created that they may have missed. It’s just another way to reach your audience through different channels.
- Opinion Posts – w, v, a – Got an opinion on something? Who doesn’t? But that’s no reason not to let yours be known, too. Get your thoughts out there for the world to assimilate so they can form an opinion of their own.
- Original Research – w, v, a, i, t – Any time you’ve done your own research, there are plenty of ways to publish your findings to inform the world of what you found. Choose one or all of them and get your message out.
- Photo Galleries – i – Any event can be recorded in photos, and those photos make a great shareable gallery. All you need is a camera.
- Photos – i – You don’t need a whole gallery to share a great photo. Even just a single photo of an action or event can be incredible content for an interested audience.
- Plugins – w, v, a, i, t – There are plenty of ways to use plugins for content. Write, review or demonstrate the usage of someone else’s plugin, or even better, create your own and share it with the world to use.
- Podcast – a – Podcasting is another great way to disseminate ideas and information, and it’s fairly easy to implement. Podcasts are perfect for those who love to learn while driving or are otherwise unable to be in front of a computer.
- Polls – t – Everyone loves sharing their opinion and seeing if others agree. Polls can be an easy way to see what people think about something. And anyone who votes will be interested in seeing the results at the end.
- Predictions – w, v, a, i – There is no shortage of predictions at the start of each new year, but there is no need to wait for that to make predictions of your own. Any new news gives you an opportunity to share what you think will transpire as a result.
- Product Reviews – w, v, a, i – Any experience you have with a particular product is worthy of writing content about. Shoppers frequently use reviews as a basis for making purchasing decisions.
- Quizzes – w, t – Like polls, quizzes can be a nice interactive tool that adds fun and value to your audience. All you need is a topic. Produce some questions and answers, and let your readers take a shot to see how well they score.
- Quotes – w, i – The simplest quote from a third party can make a huge impact. Use quotes that tie into what you do in order to make short-form content that your readers find valuable.
- Re-purposing Content – w, v, a, i – Whatever has been said once can be said again, just updated and improved. But next time around, see if you can present it differently from the way you did before. Great content in one format can be even better content in another. Don’t let good content go to waste by only using it once.
- Recorded Content – a – Did you write a great blog post? Why not turn it into an audio file that can be listened to instead of read?
- Reviews – w, v, a – Reviews are not just for products. You can review a service, an event, or even someone else’s content, making new content for your own audience.
- Screencasts – v – Got something that is better shown than explained? Record a screencast of what you want to demonstrate so your audience can see it in real form, rather than having to envision it in their minds.
- Series – w, v, a, i – Look for opportunities to create a series of posts, videos, podcasts or images. This is a simple way to keep your audience coming back for future editions.
- Slide Deck – w, v, a, i – Presentations can make for incredibly visual content or an outline for other valuable content. Whether you’re sharing the presentation itself or chopping it up into a series of short form posts or visuals, you have a perfect resource for producing awesome content.
- Spreadsheet Share – w, i, t – Sharing spreadsheets gives your audience the opportunity to play with the data, create their own charts and graphs, and ultimately, to draw their own conclusions.
- Stories – w, v, a, i – Everyone has a story to share, whether it’s their own or one they heard. People love to hear stories that help them relate to a particular topic.
- Surveys – w – While polls are more about opinions, surveys are more about learning from others’ personal experiences. This can produce no small amount of user-generated content.
- Test Results – w, i – Any real-world tests you run make for exciting content your visitors will love. Whether you’re testing a new tool or the implementation of a certain action, those results can provide valuable insights.
- Testimonials – w, v – Testimonials from satisfied customers or clients make good content for all kinds of online channels. While written testimonials are the easiest to get, video testimonials often perform the best.
- Theories – w, v, a – While predictions are looking at the result of something that’s happening, theories are often ideas that can be tested to see if they are, in fact, true. Publish your theories and see if anyone buys into it or has a competing theory to share.
- Timelines – w, v, i – Anything you do that is executed along a specific timeline can be published as a way to educate readers. This helps them keep their expectations in line with reality.
- Tool Reviews – w, v, a – I mentioned reviews above and included tools, but this deserves to be an idea on its own. People are often wary of trying new tools, and any review you can provide helps them determine if the tool will be a good fit for their needs.
- Tools – t – Have an idea for a tool of your own? Why not create it yourself?
- Top Posts – w – Similar to content curation, noted above, publishing a list of top posts is a form of curation, but with a more specific designation. You can publish your own top posts, top industry posts or even something a little more topical.
- Transcribed Videos – w – Not everyone wants to watch video, but almost every video can be transcribed, producing another way to consume the same content. Transcriptions are perfect for those who would rather skim and don’t have time to watch.
- User-Generated Content – w, v, a, i, t – User-generated content crosses the spectrum of all content types and is often the easiest content to create. You only have to figure out how to get your audience to produce it for you.
- Webinars – v – Webinars provide a great way to connect with your audience in a classroom-type format without having the hassle of organizing the space. Plus, anyone can be a part, regardless of their physical location.
- What Not To do – w, v, a, i – Just as important as showing people what to do is often showing them what not to do. That can help them avoid disasters down the road.
- Whitepaper – w – Whitepapers are incredible resources for a more technical audience. While the audience for them is more limited, the value they bring is often worthwhile.
The more varied you are in your content creation, the more engaged and interested your readers will be. Don’t bore them with text post after text post after text post. Find a different way to convey the same information. Not only will this challenge you, but it may help you produce content far superior than what you would have created otherwise.
Keeping your content varied isn’t easy. But if you sit down, plan out the content and organize it so you (or your team) can work on it with a set schedule, you’ll find that not only will you be able to produce better content, you’ll be able to produce better content more reliably.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.