By Michele Linn published May 23, 2014

Ideas for Creating Content That Are Actually Unique

red figure-arms raised-crowdWith so much focus on the need to create epic content, not to mention the overabundance of “me too” content being delivered these days, the demands of creating content that is truly unique and valuable can often feel paralyzing. Add to that the need to keep this up on an ongoing basis and the challenge is compounded.

As this has been something on our minds, we recently posed this question in our #CMWorld Twitter chat:

With so many people creating content, are there many truly original ideas? Does it matter?

If you are looking for ideas on creating content that feels more original, organic to your brand, and impactful overall, consider the suggestions below:

Think about your passions

In the content marketing world, the cries of, “It’s all about your audience” can be deafening. For the most part, this does make a lot of sense, as your prospects certainly aren’t going to stick with you if your content pontificates on your features and benefits. But you need to make sure you don’t get completely lost in the mix, either.

Take the following tweet from Katrina Douglas:

@CMIContent A1: I prioritise based on what I’m most passionate about and also most relevant to my audience #CMWorld @KDADouglas

This was an aha moment for me, and an understated reminder to think about the intersection of our personal interests and our audience when creating content.

I think about this concept a lot in relation to parenting: Even though I need to be focused on my kids’ needs, our family is happier when our worlds don’t solely revolve around them. My husband and I make sure we cultivate a few of our own interests — some of which our kids have learned to enjoy, as well. It’s finding these overlapping interests that have made us a happier family.

As I’ve been mulling this idea, I came upon a recent post from Jay Acunzo: Why “Write For Your Audience” Has Become Dangerous Advice. In this, he makes the case that if you only think about your audience, you’ll likely start to sound exactly like all your competitors.

While your audience should certainly be front and center, there is a lot to be said for keeping some focus on your passions, as well. We can all discern which authors are truly interested in what they are writing about and which ones are just creating content to “check a box” in their marketing strategy (I don’t even need to ask which type we are all more likely to be drawn to.) 

Example: Marriott on the Move is a well-known blog authored by Bill Marriott, Mariott’s Executive Chairman. The blog is an example of how you can let your personality come through while supporting the needs of your audience. Bill’s viewpoints are something that no other brand can replicate, so they serve as a powerful differentiator.

gray-haired man-marriott on the move

Build off others’ ideas

Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a particularly passionate person, no one has read or experienced things in the same way that you have. Twitter chat participant Kristen Hicks (@atxcopywriter) reminds us:

@CMIContent As long as you’re building off other ideas, rather than just swiping them, it’s how art and thinking has always worked. #CMWorld

Just as people say that content marketing is not a new concept, neither is ideation. The best ideas are often those that are built upon other ideas. A personal story is something you can offer that no one else can — and it can help shape your audience in a unique way.

Example: This is a Generic Brand Video from Dissolve brilliantly pokes fun at its own description of the service it offers: “HD footage for today’s visual storyteller.” It was inspired by a poem from Kendra Eash.

Get your fans involved

One way to keep things fresh is to ask your passionate fans, followers and customers to create content based on how they feel about your business.

Getting great user-generated content is not easy, and you need a brand that people are passionate about. But, if you have the right product/service coupled with a marketing strategy that encourages contribution, original, insightful, and exciting content can result.

Example: There are lots of great examples of original content that comes from users, but one of my favorites is Betabrand. If you aren’t familiar with this company, it puts a unique spin on the clothing it sells — like its Disco Track Shorts — and many of its fashion ideas (and the content it creates to describe it) are fueled by its customers’ input.

guy on boat-nor'easter

I leave you with these words from John Hegarty, Co-Founder and Creative Leader at Bartle Bogle Hegarty: “Nothing is original, so strive for something fresh instead. After all, it’s how others respond to your ideas that counts most.

What else would you add? How can you keep your content fresh?

Looking to take your content marketing to the next level? Download our e-book to get ideas from dozens of creative masters: Get Inspired: 75 (More) Content Marketing Examples.

Cover image via Bigstock

Author: Michele Linn

Michele Linn is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Mantis Research, a consultancy focused on helping brands create and amplify original research they can use in their marketing. Before starting Mantis, Michele was head of editorial at Content Marketing Institute, where she led the company's strategic editorial direction, co-developed its annual research studies, wrote hundreds of articles, spoke at industry events and was instrumental in building the platform to 200,000 subscribers. In 2015, she was named one of Folio's Top Women in Media (Corporate Visionary). You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

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