5 Ways to Come Up With More Original Social Media Strategies
If you want to be successful in social media, you need to post content and engage in ways that nobody else is doing. Why? A whopping 90 percent of marketers believe that social media is important to their business. There are millions of businesses on social media, at least hundreds of which are competing with you. If you post the same things that everyone else is posting, you aren’t going to stand out, and your followers will never see value in what you’re posting.
One frequently used strategy to generate content ideas is to monitor your competitors, observing what works for them and what doesn’t, and modifying those tactics to suit your own brand. This strategy is effective, but it has its limits; if followers observe both you and your competitor, you could appear like you’re mimicking the other’s strategy, with no new ideas on your own.
Overall, it’s better to generate original ideas from scratch—but how?
Strategies for Idea Generation
These are some of the most reliable ways to generate new ideas:
1. Meditate daily.
Meditation and yoga aren’t just for modern-day hippies. They’re valuable practices for restoring your mind, relieving stress, and facilitating healthier thought patterns. If you’ve never practiced meditation or yoga before, it’s beneficial to go on a retreat or attend a class. From there, you’ll be equipped with strategies you can use to personally declutter your mind and break from the stresses of your job. Thanks to technology, we’re constantly bombarded with distractions, forcing us to switch our focus; according to MIT neuroscience professor Earl Miller, “Every time you switch your focus from one thing to another, there’s something called a switch cost. Your brain stumbles a bit, and it requires time to get back to where it was before it was distracted.” Meditation gives you relief from those distractions, and a greater focus on the things that really matter.
2. Talk to people from other industries.
Instead of mirroring what your industry competitors are doing, consider looking outside your industry to discover new tactics. Chances are, those outside industries will be using completely separate engagement tactics from you. For example, if you’re in manufacturing, take a look at how some financial consulting firms are engaging with their followers. Not all of these pieces of content and strategic approaches will be valuable, but they should help you think about social media in new ways—which is crucial if you want to generate new ideas.
3. Use free association.
Another way to come up with new ideas is to use free association—the art of “randomly” calling forth words in your mind, connected to other words. Shimpei Takahashi created one well-known variant of this process, a game that he uses to come up with more creative ideas; in it, you’ll generate a list of unrelated words that you can tie together in unusual ways. It sounds strange, but on paper, it may be the spark you need to come up with something truly original.
4. Experiment with your surroundings.
Our environments shape our minds. If you take the same route to work, sit at the same desk you’ve had for years, and follow the same daily procedures without variation, of course, you’re going to be stuck in the same ruts of thinking. If you want more creative ideas, you need to break out of this cycle. Change your desk. Work at a café. Take a different route to work. Shift your daily schedule around. Even small changes can help you see the world in new ways—and think more creatively.
5. Deliberately violate norms.
Finally, consider deliberately violating the norms of social media (and your industry). Take an informal rule that you would otherwise never break (such as writing about a taboo topic) and consider breaking it. You’ll easily distinguish yourself from competitors who are too afraid to break the rule, and if done tastefully, you could earn a bevy of new followers from the action.
All these strategies can help you come up with more and better original ideas, but keep in mind that the creative process can’t be forced. If you find yourself stuck, don’t keep struggling with your own thoughts. Instead, take a break and resort to the “typical” content you post, possibly reposting previous work. Given enough time, you’ll come up with something spectacular. Not every post you make has to be radically original, but you should spend enough time brainstorming that your ideas stand apart from the crowd.