The Hello Bar is a simple notification bar that engages users and communicates a call to action.

wow content

Social media is a hungry beast. To keep it fed, you’ve got to create original and engaging content week after week.

The problem? After a while, you run out of ideas. You wind up running over the same tired topics again and again.

Where can you find a new injection of life for your blog, video channel or Twitter feed?

Here are some ways you can discover original content that goes “ZING!”

1. Interview a Customer

This is a great strategy for creating content because it’s got so many wins:

  • You get a story to share – free content!
  • It acts as social proof. Showing you’ve helped one customer will help other customers decide that you’re the right business to help them.
  • You gain insight into the world of your customer, which can help you come up with new ideas to develop your products or services.

Don’t be shy about asking your customers if they’d like to be interviewed. Most will be flattered by the request, and happy to receive the extra exposure.

2. Profile Your Top Employees

Like interviewing customers, this one’s great from a couple of perspectives:

  • You create an incentive for your team to perform at their best. If they do, they’ll be profiled on your blog.
  • You get a story to share – free content!
  • You show your customers how dedicated your employees are to helping them.

What makes a good story? Engaging stories are always about overcoming problems. So ask your team about how they’ve helped your customers or clients to overcome problems.

3. Delve Into Your History

Most businesses fail in under a year. Sad, but true.

That means if your business is older than a year, you’re fighting fit. You’ve got a history and a story to tell. Think about:

  • How did you start your business?
  • What motivated you (or the founder) to set up your business?
  • What was the first product or service you sold?
  • What’s changed since you started?

4. Run a Survey

Getting insights from a wide range of people is easier than every before, thanks to tools such as SurveyMonkey.

Surveys can help you learn about your customers or competitors. They’re also likely to generate a ton of coverage from other blogs and media outlets.

When you’re sharing the results of your survey, avoid the temptation to write a bland, matter-of-fact report. Instead, focus on the findings that surprised you, or that are most significant to your industry.

5. Crowd-Source Brain Power

This is a technique we use a lot on Social Caffeine. Instead of waiting around for inspiration to strike (you could be stuck at your desk forever!), go and find the best insights from other people.

You can see two ways we’ve used this technique here and here.

Enticing Writing

Your job as a content creator is to whip up a storm with your writing.

Bleed on the page, as James Altucher says, and you’ll quickly draw a crowd. Bleeding’s part of it – self revelation can go a long way to connecting with your readers.

But you also need to know the mechanics of good writing. That’s where we step in.

So, here’s are 4 ways you can make your writing even more engaging.

1. Don’t Give Everything Away Too Soon

Recently I watched a movie with my five year old nephew.

As soon as things got hairy – the heroine was in trouble – he had to tell me the ending. He couldn’t help it. He needed me to know that things would be okay in the end.

What’s the problem with knowing the ending? It zaps the energy out of the story. A story where you know the ending becomes limp and lifeless.

You should make big promises in your writing. And you should deliver on those promises without fail.

But don’t deliver too soon. Don’t give away the ending until the end. Otherwise, you’ll lose your audience.

2. Write with Short Words, Sentences and Paragraphs

Long words are hard to understand. Long words make your readers stop reading. They might stop to figure out what you’re trying to say. More likely, they’ll head to another blog that’s easier to read.

Blogging isn’t about being the next Shakespeare. It’s about sharing ideas and stories in a way that readers enjoy.

Keep things short, and you’ll keep your readers.

3. Interrupt with TONS of Subheadings

Online, people skim-read. They’re looking for specific information, and they want to find it fast.

Subheadings are flags that guide your readers, to help them find what they need. The right subheading tells your reader: “Stop right here! We’ve got what you want.”

Subheadings serve another purpose – they pull your reader through your content. Have you ever clicked a link, only to see a wall of text? Chances are, you left right away. Readers like to be guided with subheadings.

4. Harness the Breathtaking Power of Words

Words pack a punch. The right words can slam you in the gut. Words pull you into a story.

How can you make your writing sparkle?

Create a list of “power words”. You’re best to find your own. But if you need help, here are 317 power words to get you started.

Top 10 Blogs 2015

If anyone tells you blogging is a dying art, block your ears.

Sure, video is taking center stage. But that’s just pushing up the quality of all content. Blog articles are getting better and better. We’re either in the golden age of blogging, or we’re on the way there.

With that in mind, we’ve selected the top 10 blogs and bloggers to watch in 2015. They’ve made it into this list because they write amazing blog posts – but also because they’re friends and mentors.

Oh, and to make it extra special, we’ve included our favourite posts from their blogs over the past year.

Don’t take our word for it about how damn good these guys and gals are. Check them out for yourself…

1. James Altucher, The Ultimate Guide for Becoming an Idea Machine

For James Altucher ideas are “the currency of life”. He explains:

Good ideas buy you good experiences, buy you better ideas, buy you better experiences, buy you more time, save your life. Financial wealth is a side effect of the “runner’s high” of your idea muscle.

As social marketers and content creators, ideas are the core of our work. Good ideas lead to flourishing content that’s widely shared.

Mediocre ideas? Let’s not talk about those…

James Altucher has created a step-by-step guide to becoming an idea machine. Following his guide, you’ll have an output of 10 ideas per day, or over 3,500 ideas per year.

Take a look and get inspired here.

Follow James Altucher on Twitter here.

2. Jonathan Fields, The Seven Lies that Keep Us From Success

We are the primary authors of the thoughts, words and limitations that tend to do the most damage to our potential. It’s the stories we tell ourselves. The lies that stop us from taking action.

So says Jonathan Fields, and in a seven part series he explores in depth the lies we tell ourselves that prevent us from being successful. Even better, he shows how to bust up those lies for the myths they are.

Need some motivation to keep you moving forward in 2015? This is the post to read.

Get your buzz on here.

Follow Jonathan Fields on Twitter here.

3. Social Media Examiner, 26 Creative Ways to Publish Social Media Updates

Ever stuck on ideas for what to share on social media? Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us.

In this post – our favorite from Social Media Examiner in 2014 – the prolific Ali Luke gives 26 fresh ideas on what you can do with your social updates.

Post ideas include book recommendations, company milestones, evergreen content, and interviews with your team members.

This post has over 15,000 social shares, so it looks like all the social media lovers out there enjoyed it too.

Check it here.

Follow Ali Luke on Twitter here.

4. Jeff Bullas, 10 Ways To Create Contagious Content for Your Social Media Marketing

What we love about this post is that it delves into the why. It gets deep into the psychology of why people share content, so you can apply the advice whatever industry you’re in.

Our favorite part of the post is the 6 guidelines that increase the chances of content being shared:

  • Appeal to your audience’s motivation to connect with each other (not just with your brand).
  • Tell a story.
  • Credibility needs to be established, as does trust, which is the cost of getting shares.
  • Keep the message simple.
  • Appeal to positive emotions like inspiration, illumination or amusement to build a positive brand connection.
  • Embed a sense of urgency.

Read it here.

Follow Jeff Bullas on Twitter here.

5. Neil Patel, The Formula for a Perfect Headline

In the world of the internet, headlines matter. They’re more than important. You could say headlines are the key to great content.

In Neil Patel’s terms:

On average, when I write a great headline, I generate 6,591 more visitors the day I publish the post. I also generate 292 more tweets and 137 more Facebook shares.

That’s why we enjoyed Neil Patel’s Formula for a Perfect Headline. It distills the art of headline writing into a simple infographic that anyone can use.

Learn the headline formula here.

Follow Neil Patel on Twitter here.

6. Jay Baer, Why It Might Be Time to Completely Change Your Social Media Strategy

Jay Baer throws the cat among the pigeons with this post, and points out that “reach” on social media is often much smaller than we imagine.

If I send out a tweet, the 124,000 who have said they want to hear from me won’t see that tweet. A small cross-section (usually about 2,000, according to my Twitter stats) will see it instead. Thus, my theoretical reach is 124,000, but my reliable reach is about 1.6% of that, and the actual people comprising that 1.6% shifts somewhat from tweet to tweet. The same dynamics exist on Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram, Google +, and especially Facebook.

What this lack of reliable reach means is that we keep trying to communicate with people who have asked to hear from us, but when we send those messages what we mostly get are busy signals.

What’s the solution?

Read the article here to find out.

Follow Jay Baer on Twitter here.

7. Francisco Rosales, After 1.5 Million Posts Analyzed, Here is the Perfect Facebook Post

What does the perfect Facebook post look like? After analysing 1.5 million posts from across 6,000 pages, Francisco Rosales reveals what works and what doesn’t – with some surprising results.

See for yourself here.

Follow Francisco Rosales on Twitter here.

8. Derek Halpern, I got a $310 haircut. I learned 3 SURPRISING things about raising your prices.

In this short but sweet post (plus 7 minute video), Derek Halpern reveals what he learned when he splurged $310 on a haircut (when he usually spends $40).

What did he find out?

Check Derek’s conclusions here.

Follow Derek Halpern on Twitter here.

9. Guy Kawasaki, The Art of Evangelism

You’ve got something awesome to share – but what’s the best way to share it?

Guy Kawasaki, formerly chief evangelist for Apple, provides 11 steps for sharing the good news.

We love all of them, but especially number 5:

Look for agnostics, ignore atheists. It is very hard to convert someone to a new religion when he worships another god. The hardest person to convert to Macintosh was someone who worshipped MS-DOS. The easiest person was someone who never used a personal computer before. If a person doesn’t “get” your product or service after fifteen minutes, cut your losses and move on.

Read all 11 steps here.

Follow Guy Kawasaki on Twitter here.

10. Michael Hyatt, The Top-10 Characteristics of Lousy Leaders

It’s always good to learn from your mistakes, but even better to learn from the mistakes of others.

Leadership coach Michael Hyatt shows how you can avoid the mistakes that lousy leaders make, and so put yourself on the path to becoming a great leader.

Check his post here.

Follow Michael Hyatt on Twitter here.