One rule of thumb says that you should post something on Facebook every day. Doesn’t sound too hard, eh? But you also have to consider Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Instagram. Since posting the same content on all networks isn’t an option, you need to get creative, and craft unique messages for all of your social networks.
If you’re a startup with a brand-new social media presence, you might have a lot of ideas that you want to see realized. But after a while, you’ll recognize that it gets harder to come up with fresh content.
But what do you do if you don’t have any ideas? The natural thing to do is to start a brainstorming session. To solve your creativity deadlock, you and your team gather and spin as many ideas as possible. But did you know that this way of generating ideas isn’t very effective?
At least it’s not if you do it the classical way. Why?
- Your coworkers’ ideas affect your perspective on the problem.
- Often, a brainstorming session only includes talking and writing, not depicting the challenge and the possible solutions.
- Your team members are different people with different personalities. Some people tend to need closure, so they want to finish brainstorming sessions as quickly as possible.
So it seems like we need alternatives. Luckily, a lot of different techniques can be used to come up with new ideas and solutions.
In this article, I’ll present seven of them. Often, it makes sense to start with individual brainstorming sessions, then collaborate on the generated ideas as a group.
For now, we’ve had enough of the written word. Let’s dive into the brainstorming exercises.
1. Mood Boarding
Mood boards are often used to spark creativity in film productions and design teams. But they can also be great ways to generate social media content. They consist of inspiring images, words, materials, and videos.
The objective of a mood board is to structure your creative ideas. To boost your social media team’s creativity, you should start using mood boards by:
- Creating a bunch of themes that are related to your company. Let’s say you run an advertising agency. Suitable themes could be mobile marketing, video marketing, and strategic marketing.
- Prioritize themes, and write down related keywords. For instance, if you want to focus on video marketing, related keywords could be video marketing strategies, video marketing statistics, and video marketing benefits
- You can use a Google search to come up with these related keywords. Just type in your keyword, and look at the recommendations.
- Search for social media posts that are related to your words and sentences in all the different networks (including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn).
- Create screenshots of the best posts, and store them on your computer or online. (For example, you could use CloudApp.)
- Create your mood board and include all of your saved images. You can use this mood board template to easily create your first mood board on social media.
2. 6-3-5 Method
The 6-3-5 exercise is briefly: 6 people involved in a brainstorming session. Each of these people writes down 3 ideas. Afterward, they pass their lists of ideas to their colleague.
Now, every participant writes down 3 more ideas, while viewing the ideas of his or her colleague. This process is repeated 5 times. That way, the idea generation happens iteratively.
After finishing the process of generating ideas, the group can analyze and evaluate the ideas, and select one or more suitable ones.
To get started with this technique, check out this 6-3-5 template by Lean Methods.
One Sentence and Pass
Likely, you used this technique when you were in school. The goal of this exercise is to create a story. Write down one sentence. Now, instead of working on the story, pass the pen to your coworker. Then he or she takes over and writes the next sentence.
You can easily apply this brainstorming technique to your process for writing social media posts. Open a new Google Doc, and write the first sentence of your new Facebook post. Share the link with your co-workers, and let them keep working on the post until it’s finished.
3. Mind Mapping
Almost everybody knows about mind maps. But for those of you who don’t, a mind map is a visual tool that gathers ideas about a specific topic. The huge advantage of a mind map is the ability to connect different ideas and establish relationships. So how could you use a mind map to generate ideas for your social media posts?
First, you should decide if you want to create an online or offline mind map. Keep in mind that you can easily share and collaborate on online mind maps. Mind Mapping Tools (such as MindMup) make it super easy to get started.
You could start with a specific topic and a related pain. For example, let’s return to video marketing. A common challenge with video marketing is having decent resources to create video content. This pain is the central starting point of our mind map.
Now we’ll research the reasons why that problem exists. Here are some possible reasons:
- Your marketing team is tied up in everyday business.
- It’s too expensive to create high-quality videos.
- Nobody on the team is experienced in video marketing.
After generating a decent number of reasons, you should figure out how to solve the problem by negating the reason. If producing high-quality video is too expensive and keeps you from pursuing video marketing, start creating short social videos by using affordable software, such as Rocketium or Lumen5.
That way, you can easily create the structure of a new social media post by using mind mapping as a brainstorming activity.
4. Role Storming
Rolestorming is a brainstorming game that should change your perspective. The objective is it to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes, in order to view the problem from a new perspective and come up with fresh ideas. So how can this creative exercise help us create better Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook posts?
Follow this approach:
- Compile a list of inspiring social media accounts. Check out the accounts of thought leaders, your competitors, and your partners. Concentrate on one social network per loop.
- Everyone on your team picks one account and analyzes it to find out its team’s approach to social media. What content types do they use? What words, jargon, and tone of voice do they use? How are they telling stories?
A tool such as Fanpage Karma can be a starting point for ideas about social media posts.
Everybody puts themselves in the shoes of the company they analyzed. Each person writes down 3 posts for one specific platform (such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram)
- Afterward, the group comes together, evaluates the posts, and creates new ideas for posts as a group.
5. The Five Whys
Another useful brainstorming exercise is The Five Whys. You’re starting with a challenge that you (or your audience) want to overcome. Perhaps you don’t have enough resources to create videos for your social media accounts.
So you simply ask yourself: “Why is this happening?” The answer could be: “Because we have only a small marketing team.”
(Image Source: Giphy)
Next, ask why again. Possible answer: “Because we’re a bootstrapped startup that hasn’t received funding yet, so we need to efficiently prioritize marketing activities.” Then you ask why 3 more times.
The interesting part about this technique is that you’re digging deeper and deeper. That way, you fully analyze the problem and its root, and you find new perspectives and topics to cover in your social media posts.
6. Delphi Method
This creativity exercise is tailored toward remote teams that aren’t working in the same office. Nevertheless, it can still be used by non-distributed teams.
Here’s how it works:
- You send the task to all of the participants in the brainstorming session. (For example, you could send it via Slack or Chanty.)
- Gather all of the responses in one Google Sheet, but make sure you don’t reveal who the authors of the respective posts are. They should remain anonymous. Feel free to copy this spreadsheet.
- Now share the list with your team, and let them score each idea. (You can choose the scale, such as 1-10)
- Now you have a good list of posts that you can use now or later.
7. Challenge Everything
Everyone occasionally gets stuck in old patterns. We all carry lots of assumptions and hypotheses, without realizing it. Now is your chance to break free.
So here’s a brainstorming exercise:
- Write down all of your assumptions (and “best practices”) about social media posts. You can start by asking these questions:
- What tone of voice resonates with your audience?
- What kind of content do they consume?
- What jargon do they prefer?
- Where are they based?
- When should I post my content?
- Challenge each of them by asking for the reason behind the assumption, and think about an alternative answer.
- Start experimenting by prioritizing suitable ideas.
It can be tough to create new social media posts every day. To avoid social burnout and create content that your audience will read, use the individual and group exercises in this article to spark your creativity.
Do you have any specific tactics for writing your social media posts? Let me know in the comments.
Max Benz is a content marketing manager at Filestage, a software that helps you speed up and streamline your creative review cycles. He’s very passionate about SaaS and growth-driven marketing (and built one of the first German SaaS directories).