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

Twitter Ideas

The interwebs are greedy. The more great content you create, the more you’re expected to create.

But what happens when the well runs dry? What should you do when you’re parched for ideas?

How can you create awesome content, day after day?

Turn to Twitter, and you’ll find a well of inspiration that’s ever flowing.

Here are three simple techniques you can use.

1. The Andrew Chen Method

Entrepreneur and angel investor Andrew Chen uses a simple three-step formula to help him come up with things to write about.

  1. Tweet an insight, idea, or quote.
  2. See how many people retweet it.
  3. If it catches, then I write a blog post elaborating on the topic.

Sharing an idea in a tweet only takes him a minute or two. If the tweet gets ignored, he’s not lost much at all. But if it’s picked up and retweeted, he knows he’s got a great idea that he should expand upon.

2. Check You’re Writing in the Right Direction

Spirituality author and storyteller Donald Miller uses Twitter while he’s writing books. He shares ideas from the book to find out whether his readers will appreciate what he’s writing about.

Miller explains:

I recently used Twitter to find out what themes and ideas would stimulate thought. I would tweet an idea I was writing about, and if it got re-tweeted or stimulated conversation, I was more eager to use it in my book.

Here are Donald’s four steps for getting ideas on Twitter:

  1. Tweet a chapter idea and ask if anybody has given the idea any thought. If you hear crickets, skip that chapter.
  2. Got a powerful one-liner? Tweet it and see if it gets re-tweeted. You might turn that one-liner into a complete paragraph or more.
  3. Stuck on an idea? Tweet and ask anybody if they’ve read an interesting article about it. Twitter is a great resource tool.
  4. Use Twitter to summarize an idea. The great thing about 140 characters is it makes you condense your thinking, which is often the essence of good writing.

3. Split Test Headlines

Leo Widrich of Buffer App uses Twitter to split test headline ideas. Here’s the steps he follows:

1.) Find 2 headlines for an article that you think will perform well.
2.) Tweet both of these headlines at roughly the same time, at least 1 hour apart. Here I’ve found that doing the 2 Tweets both in the AM or both in the PM works best – 9am is much more similar to 10am, then say 12pm is to 1pm. So going with clear “morning” or “afternoon” times is crucial.
3.) Compare the data for which headline to settle on.

In one test Widrich conducted, one tweet got twice as many clicks as the other tweet, so he had a clear winner.

Over to You

Have you ever used Twitter to come up with ideas? What techniques do you use?

Infographic

Back in 2012, infographics were riding high. They were the marketing tool of choice for content marketers. Left, right and centre, infographics were everywhere.

Yep, we even wrote and published a book on infographics.

In the two years up to 2012, search volumes for infographics increased by a whopping 800%. Content marketers who used infographics saw an average of 12% more traffic compared to those who didn’t (Stats from this infographic).

As the social media powerhouse Jeff Bullas has pointed out, infographics are so effective because they:

  • Are Attractive. Good looks draw eyeballs and create “addictive content”.
  • Are Scannable. The web has transformed the way we read and take in content. People skim-read instead of pondering every word. Infographics are highly scannable, so they’re perfect for the modern reader.
  • Have Viral Potential. Infographics are easy to share, and people love to share them.
  • Show that You’re an Expert. Infographics display a ton of data in an easy to understand way. As such, they can position you as an expert in your field.

Now wonder they were so popular. They were every content marketers’ dream.

All this rings true with our experience at Social Caffeine. One of our most popular content pieces of all time is an infographic on the best (and worst) times to post on social media.

We were riding high, soaring through the skies.

Then, Infographics Died

It was a sudden death, too.

Just one year on from the heyday of infographics, they were proclaimed to be “dead”.

In October 2013, Rishon Roberts of Spinnakr wrote:

It’s finally Q4, so I’m going to call it now: 2014 will be the year the infographic finally dies.

And Kenny Van Sittert of Zazzle proclaimed “their time is coming to an end.”

What went wrong?

Here’s the Postmortem

Both Roberts and Van Sittert noticed a similar problem with infographics. Too many people had jumped on the infographics bandwagon. Blogs and websites became flooded with infographics, and readers got bored.

On top of that, “infographics” became a magic button for creating web traffic. If you wanted to go viral, so the logic went, all you had to do was create an infographic and “boom!” Quality didn’t matter. Your data sources didn’t matter. As long as you had an infographic, you were golden.

Needless to say, that line of thinking was deeply flawed.

Infographics, to put it in the words of Van Sittert “became spammy”. They were “quickly scraped together by some overseas designers or interns who [had] little design experience”. And so blog readers began to “treat them with a kind of contempt usually reserved for discarded chewing gum.”

Roberts agreed with Van Sitter’s analysis:

Once everyone trie[d] to create them — and quickly — the importance shift[ed] from quality to quantity, and with a high quantity they’re not as fun anymore.

It doesn’t sound good for infographics, does it?

Infographics are Dead. Long Live Infographics!

Did infographics really die?

We’re not sure.

We certainly agree that they’ve become a magic button for marketers. The world got flooded with them.

But to this day, our infographics remain some of our greatest sources of traffic.

In our view, infographics never really died. It just got harder to stand out from the crowd. So you have to work smarter to get noticed.

“Infographics are dead”, they say. “Long live infographics!” we say.

If infographics died, then they’re on to the road to coming back to life.

Here’s what you must do to stand out from the pack:

Remember the Purpose of Infographics: Sharing Information

Infographics are great for driving traffic to your website or blog. But that’s not their primary purpose. What is? Like all effective content, effective infographics share useful information.

As we wrote in our infographics book:

Infographics are pictures designed to share complex information in a simple way. They take a muddle of raw data, and bring it to focus, in perfect clarity.

University lecturer Alberto Cairo said in a recent interview:

Infographics will have a bright future if the people who design them embrace accuracy, clarity, depth, and service to the public, rather than mere promotion.

Don’t Be Lazy

Infographics don’t just appear at the click of your fingers. Creating good infographics takes time and effort. You’ve got to start with a ton of research to find data that has the power to shock, educate, or provoke an emotional reaction. Then you’ve got to check that data is from a reliable source.

Finally, you’ve got to pull together your data into a quality design. That means investing time designing it yourself (there are low-cost design solutions if you’re not a wizard with Adobe’s software), or hiring out the work to a pro designer.

Talking of quality…

Quality Matters

Your readers aren’t stupid. You should always treat them with the respect they deserve. They can see through any attempts you make to tart up shabby data with graphics.

Likewise, they’re unlikely to share your infographic if your design skills aren’t up to scratch.

As graphic designer Brian Wallace told the Content Marketing Institute:

Quality will always prevail — if you’re careful at what you’re doing. That being said, infographics are (and already have been) getting more complex. No longer solely flat images on the web, they are becoming a mainstay in product packaging, trade show materials, and even annual reports.

Get Interactive

All infographics are still bubbling with life. But interactive infographics hold the keys to the future.

VentureBeat writer Julia Gifford explains:

Interactive infographics differ from static infographics in that they let the viewer interact with them, discovering more on their own. They include elements such as animations and clickable links, which increase the viewer’s engagement as well as the credibility of the infographic itself.

What’s Your Take?

Are infographics dead? Or are they here to stay? What do you love (or hate!) about infographics? Let us know in the comments, below.

This is a guest post by Hilary Smith.

Businesses today know the benefits that come with social media. Social networks can do much more than give existing brands new life; they also give brands many more opportunities to build collaborative relationships with consumers like never before.

However, the term “social media” also comes with a lot of baggage. There’s actually a lot more to managing these networks than sharing cat videos and following worldwide trending topics. Brands must understand what social media makes possible for their businesses: engaging with customers, providing quicker feedback, reaching new audiences, and so on.

Unfortunately, many brands treat social media as a short press release — a way to talk about themselves. With so much competition for attention in social media, brands need to consider how they’re effectively showcasing their humanity, as well as how they can help their consumers through these channels.

Delta Airlines, GoPro, and ESPN have slam-dunked social marketing initiatives across a variety of platforms. Read on to learn how three brands put social media to work to great effect…

Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines is a great example of a brand taking advantage of Twitter’s casual but conversational user interface. Delta gained a popular following on the website with mentions of pop culture, holidays, and anecdotes:

delta airlines twitter

The Delta account also frequently responds to individual tweets. Delta’s lighthearted, personable, and often humorous brand strategy on the website stands out and makes users more willing to listen and even engage — Delta adds to the average user’s experience and overall daily enjoyment of the platform.

Your business can follow along Delta’s flight pattern by deciding on a brand persona. In sales and in life, people remember how you make them feel over what you’re actually saying, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Opting for the most professional tone and technical language will likely not get your business the attention it needs on Twitter.

GoPro

Lifestyle video brand GoPro recently ran two campaigns on Facebook:

  1. GoPro’s Everything We Make Sweepstakes was a chance for people who did not yet own a GoPro to win one of every GoPro product.
  2. The Photo & Video of the Day campaign on Facebook was for customers who wanted to share their GoPro adventures.

GoPro then selected content submissions from some of their biggest producers and put the top photos on their Facebook page. Doing this encouraged other GoPro users to like, comment, and share. As a result, their rate of social engagement increased.

gopro contest

Not only did GoPro give their customers a cool way to participate by showing off their purchase, but they’re also able to showcase their excitement in continued use of the product. While the sweepstakes only accepts entries from those who use their product, it’s still a great motivator to encourage people to buy their own GoPro to enter the photo contests!

More than anything, people want to be involved, especially your customers. When it comes to hosting a contest or giveaway, a great way to ensure that your brand gets recognized is by allowing your customers to participate. This goes way beyond just “liking” your Facebook page or commenting on a photo. Encourage your audience to share their experience with your brand, and you might be surprised as to what you get as a result.

ESPN

With over 30,000 hours of curated sports content and several household video marketing campaigns, ESPN is a heavy-hitter on social media. ESPN’s Sports Center brand features prominently among the company’s video content with the “#SCtop10 hashtag,” “This is SportsCenter” commercials, and feature segments under #SCFeatured. These hashtag campaigns make it easy for viewers to find new and favorite content, while the highly popular “This is SportsCenter” spots are entertaining advertising rather than tedious.

this is sports center

ESPN’s Youtube channel is an instance of putting a media platform to work for your brand. Your business can get the most out of Youtube when you give people options. It’s best if you publish your video under your own channel, where it’s easy to find and you can add to your SEO strategy for search engines.

 

Hilary Smith is an online journalist, covering everything from small business news to globalization. She loves contributing her knowledge about social media, eCommerce, and business communications on her blog.