How to use social media to find content ideas

How to use social media to find content ideas

Alex Johnson
Owner, Designer & Strategist

A huge part of marketing is producing new content for your prospects to consume. New social posts, new blog articles, new videos. So much new content can be produced. But what happens when you run out of ideas?

Or maybe your content has become stale? Uninspired? Feeling like you are phoning it in? Trust me, lots of business owners end up in this same situation. Writing something new is easy when you have fresh ideas in your head. But once you run out, it becomes the bottom of the list and never gets done.

If you want to be successful at content marketing, you must keep producing ideas that interest your audience. While it might seem like you are fresh out of ideas, there are some easy ways to find a bunch of new ones. In this article, I am going to teach you how to use social media to come up with an unlimited supply of content ideas.

Why use social media to find ideas?

Successful marketing speaks to the prospect in their language. It addresses their concerns. It answers questions.

And your prospect is already on social media asking those questions that you can answer. They are having discussions about their needs in groups. They are talking about problems. In their language.

And each of these topics is something you can pull out and write about. Make a new video. Not everything you produce must lead to a sale. The act of simply being a useful resource can help get you more business.

How to find new topics

They say, “to make a sale, you must know your customer’s needs”. The same is true for marketing. To market to an audience, you need to know what they want to learn or what they are struggling with.

The easiest way to do this is to hang out where your prospects are. Start by joining groups that they are in. I find this works well on Facebook. But you could use Reddit by joining a specific subreddit, Instagram but following hashtags your audience uses, or just about any social media.

Content ideas for social media
Not everything you do has to be sales

The idea is NOT to join these groups to spam or even talk about yourself. You are there to learn and share your knowledge. You are not there to pounce every time someone mentions something that you sell and try to capture the sale.

Watch discussions

Start by watching the discussions. Contribute when you feel you have something useful to add. For example, I tend to work with artisans and there was a recent discussion on the ethical practices of certain platforms for artisans to sell on.

By sitting back and looking at the discussion, I gained insight into how some of the artisans felt about these practices, alternative platforms, and could gauge a general feeling of what direction the platform might go. And from there I could write up an article that extends that conversation by researching the alternatives or even a simple expose article about these practices to help others be more aware of what’s going on.

No need to get involved unless I want to later share my research. But no sale was needed. Just building trust by teaching and helping others. Heck, there are even times I have suggested a competitor because it was the best fit for the needs of the original poster.


Follow the comments
Follow the discussions

Questions are like a blog article or video neatly wrapped up for you. You can use the question as your primary topic and dig into every aspect of it. Give different sides, answers, and opinions. Remember not every piece needs to sell.

You can use almost any question you get from your audience and address that topic. Write about it inside and out. Using my example above, I could write an article on the top 10 reasons to use platform x. And I could also write about the top 7 reasons to avoid platform x. There are lots of ways I could go about it.


It might seem counterproductive, but you can see what is disliked by your audience. This works for both products you sell, and those things sold by others.

If you see a post complaining about a specific product or service, then you might be able to build content to help address that complaint. It could be a how-to article on using product XYZ better. Or how to make the most of XYZ. Or even alternatives to XYZ.

Find ways to sympathize with your audience and help them find a better solution. Even if the product or service has nothing to with your offering. The more you show up and help others, the more you build your audience of people who might be interested in your offering later.

If they are complaining about a product you sell, now is the time to take notes. Do not address anything other to ask more questions, such as “What would make this better for you?” Take those notes and act upon them. Improve your product or service and outpace your competition. Your audience is giving you insider tips on how to make the best thing for them.

Use engagement to judge the popularity

Using Facebook as an example, you can see how many people are in a discussion by comments and likes. If the topic is getting hundreds of comments, you know that it’s a hot topic and worth your attention. Same with likes. If tons of people are liking (or even disliking) a topic, you know it is of interest to others.

This works the same for “me too” type comments. If lots of people are responding saying they are having the same problem or question, you can bet it would be useful to create content that answers that question.

Joining groups

You might find that admins of some groups frown upon letting vendors and service providers into the groups. This fear comes from the fact that many business owners will jump into the group and start slamming the group with sale posts. The group owner may also fear it will hinder real discussion because people tend to avoid talking about products they hate if the vendor of the product is in the group.

I have seen this happen in my web design groups. Someone will bash a service and the employee of said service will immediately start trying to change people’s minds about the product and downplay the topic. It turns others off from commenting and kills the atmosphere.

Your best bet to join a group is to be 100% upfront with the admin. If the owner asks, you need to be upfront about the fact you are not interested in selling but in learning. They still might reject you. But keep trying other groups and you will slowly build up the trust and can later join groups using your record as proof you won’t harm the group.

Avoid the dry spell

While you can pull this off and start getting ideas in a short time, I recommend joining and starting to build that network now. Watch the topics go across and make notes. Even if you don’t write about a topic right now, you can always loop back when you are struggling.

Pick a place you enjoy hanging out and where your audience lives. I have never liked Linked In personally. It always feels stuffy and not me. So, I don’t spend time there. Much of social media is about finding the right group of people to interact with. Find the one that resonates with you. It does not matter what anyone else thinks. Do what works for you.

Most of all, have fun creating the content. If you are not enthusiastic about a topic, don’t write about it. Your emotions will show in your content. Enjoy what you are doing, and it will show.

What is your favorite way to find new ideas for your content? Let me know in the comments or jump on Facebook and send me a message.

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