To know what people want to read – and delivering it to them…well that’s the holy grail!
I’d be evoking my inner Pinnochio if I said I didn’t struggle with this. Most times, I feel like a hamster, sporting the cutest red sneakers, struggling to move my feet quickly enough so that I don’t faceplant in the bed of wood shavings at the bottom of the cage.
Sound familiar? Ugh right?
Whether you are trying to post a blog on your website, email your database, create an Instagram story that will compliment your Instagram post – oh yeah…and now there is Instagram TV and IG’s newest feature “Reels,” (not yet released in North America) on top of curating pinnable content on Pinterest and shareworthy info on Facebook and Twitter, and Tik Tok and SnapChat and YouTube….
😱 Oh boy!
Sweat beads actually formed on my brow as I typed that last paragraph. It’s all so overwhelming. Just how does anyone produce so much binge-worthy content in the first place?
The struggle is real but I do have some answers on where to find content ideas and I want to share.
1. Poll your audience
The best way you can know what your audience wants to know from you, is to bloody well ask ‘em. You might think you don’t have an audience but you do. Ideally, if you are already in the travel industry, you have an email list. It may not be a big list but even one hand clapping…is a list. (wait, that’s not a good analogy at all) Point is, that one person on your email list is an audience member – Hi Mom.
And if you haven’t started an email list, don’t worry about that at the moment. You cannot have made it to 2020 and not be an influencer of sorts. The average person has 150 followers on Instagram and 338 followers on Facebook. There is the beginning of your audience.
If you have an email list, why not send out a questionnaire using Google Forms to poll your audience. Ask them what types of content they would be interested in. Google Forms allows you to ask either multiple-choice questions or open-ended questions. Use the words your audience uses to provide answers to their most burning questions. Sound too technical? If your audience is small enough, it might make sense to pose the question at the end of one of your emails.
“Tell me what you want to learn more about”
On social media, try using the polling feature in your stories to get insight on what you should post next? Or out and out ask them in the captions on your posts. I’ve noticed though that polls tend to work better. Most people don’t know what questions they’d like answers to until they hear them. As in….”Oh yeah, I really wouldn’t mind learning more about that topic. Bring it on.”
2. Don’t have an audience – borrow one
So let’s say your audience is small. You’ve posted a few polls. You’ve sent out a Google Form and you still don’t feel as though you have enough to go on. Now what? While theft is definitely a criminal act…if you aren’t a stickler for rules, you might just peek over your classmate’s shoulders for the answers! In other words, check out what travel advisors, who you admire, are doing. Seriously, copying is never okay but reading through the comments on a similar website, or social media feed, as yours for inspiration is absolutely acceptable.
If you don’t already have a list of who you most admire in the travel world, get one. Look for accounts that have high engagement rates. They vary between platforms but as a rule of thumb, on Instagram, that’s anything over 4%; Facebook it’s over 2% and Twitter over .5%. Accounts with this type of engagement are the ones to watch. Note which posts resonate most with their audiences and replicate that style of post.
Did you know that on Facebook, there is a tool that can really help you with this? I am going to assume you have a Facebook business page for this tip. If you don’t, you need one but that’s another topic. Go to the top of your page under “Insights.” Then click onto “Overview” and scroll down until you see a section called “Pages to Watch.” Here you can add up to five Facebook pages that you deem similar to yours. You can now see exactly what they’ve posted in the past week and how successful each post was.
This can be a goldmine for content ideas. Again, never steal but use this info to create parallel topics that will appeal to your similar audience.
3. Use online tools like Ubersuggest
As Mark Twain might have said, there is no need to reinvent the toaster. Similar to tip two, there are a host of free online tools that allow you to analyze similar businesses as yours. Simply go to www.ubersuggest.com and type in the domain name of any website you think is a worthy opponent. Immediately, you’ll be shown which of their web pages drive the most traffic, and which topics get shared the most through social media.
Then you take that topic, and you make it better. In the world of content creation, they call this “skyscraping.” You take a topic that did very well for the other guy and you make it, oh, so much better. On one hand, you have the toaster that lightly browns sandwich bread into yummy goodness. Then you have the toaster oven that does all you’d expect of the humble toaster, but adds in the ability to make chicken fingers, or quesadilla or whatever frozen entree you’d like to heat up. Same, same…but better.
4. Build your own online library
No question, if you want to be relevant and stand out amongst your peers, you need to be in the know. Whatever your travel niche is, pay attention to what is being written and what is topical. Industry e-magazines are filled with great info that you can morph into consumer-friendly content.
When I used to write articles on Asia every week, I would scour my online subscriptions for the latest and greatest. Whether it was a new luxury hotel opening in Nha Trang or some new visa rule or regulation. It was my job to take the info and spin it in a way that would be attractive to my audience. Sometimes the urge to hit delete on the plethora of weekly ezines was overwhelming. I didn’t! I had to learn how to quickly scan for viable content to turn into useful content for my audience.
I would suggest signing up for as many online subscriptions in your niche as you can. You never know where a piece of great content might be hiding.
For Facebook, sites like Reddit or Imgur offer up interesting topics of conversation that tend to get people talking…which is what you want. The goal of anything you post should be…could this spark a conversation. It goes without saying that conversations about religion and politics should be left for your family reunion – but everything else is fair game. It’s fine to be a little controversial. You are never going to be everybody’s cup of Earl Gray and that’s okay.
5. Review what you’ve done in the past
It might seem obvious but it still bears mentioning because it’s so important. If your website isn’t linked to Google Analytics yet, it needs to be. If your Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram accounts are personal and worse yet, private, turn them into public and business accounts. Only then will you get useful feedback regarding what is and isn’t working for you so far.
Nothing is more telling than when I post something I’ve worked days on only to get crickets. It happens. But I don’t beat myself up. I see it as useful intel and I know NOT to post a pic of my feet hanging off the edge of a lawn chair again. Oopsey, delete.
6. Ideas are everywhere – Be extra observant
Now that you are a bonafide content creator – which you most definitely are because everybody on the planet is – keep your eyes peeled. You never know where great ideas will emerge. In my experience, they tend to show up as I’m applying my conditioner in my hair or as I’m overtaking three semi-trucks back-to-back on the highway. Neither are ideal times to pull out a pen and write down these epiphanic moments but as soon as I can, I do write them down.
There is a story in just about everything we encounter. You might have to look closely but it’s there. Just the other day, I was in my office twirling around in my office chair when a solitary fly kept evading my capture. I spent a good forty minutes, with fly-swatter in hand, hunting it down in my 9 x 6 office. I eventually caught it after dressing up in camouflage, turning off the light and using my night vision goggles – now there is a story in there somewhere I thought. (and if you subscribed to my weekly email, you would have heard it in all its gory glory)
My two favourite free idea capture tools are Trello and the Voice Memo feature on my iPhone. If you aren’t familiar with Trello, check it out. I LOVE IT. It syncs across all platforms. I can organize all my content ideas on a board in Trello. This article came from a Trello card I created a few weeks ago. I knew I wanted to write an article about creating killer content and so I created a card and then every time an additional thought on the topic came to mind, I’d add it to the card.
And the Voice Memo feature on my iPhone is also a lifesaver. As I’m driving, I simply say…”Hey Siri, open Voice Memos” and she diligently complies. I record my thoughts and transfer them to Trello later that evening.
7. Storytelling isn’t just for bedtimes
Binge-worthy content is often woven around a good story. That’s just how the human mind works. We naturally think in a linear fashion. I’m not suggesting that all great content has to relate back to a story, but often, the most memorable content will. If there is a way that you can get your message across in a relatable narrative, that has your audience on the edge of their seat (see reference to fly hunt above) then your audience is more apt to begin to loyally look forward to your next post.
I’m telling you, the Grimm’s brothers were onto something with that tale of Rumpelstiltskin and his ability to weave straw into gold. Everybody loves a good story. And if you can leave your audience wanting more…with the quintessential cliffhanger, then you have got it made.
Speaking of cliffhangers…
Creating killer content is just one of the 5 C’s of marketing your travel business effectively. In my upcoming posts, I will talk about Consistency, Clarity, Client Acquisition and Connection. Stay tuned. And if you get any enjoyment out of reading these posts whatsoever, please feel free to share on any social media platform of your choice?
And if there is a topic you’d like me to cover, why not leave it in the comments below. …see what I did there? Classic tip #1 – Poll your audience.