Have you ever experienced the frustration of getting stuck in a social media rut? Are you finding it tough to produce regular, engaging content for your social media profiles? Maybe you’ve gone through a time when you’ve simply run out of social media ideas.
Many of us have been there, and it’s not a lot of fun. When you get stuck in a social media rut, every post can feel like an uphill battle. If you’re running a business or online store, the pressure is even greater because the growth of your business depends upon your marketing efforts.
If you find yourself in this situation , don’t panic. You’re not the only one feeling this way. We’ve compiled our top 18 things to do when you run out of social media ideas.
18 Things to Do When You Run Out of Social Media Ideas
1. Share Old Content
One of the great advantages of producing blog posts and articles is that you can use them multiple times. In fact, Neil Patel would argue that if you’re not repurposing your articles then you’re missing a trick.
Sharing old content is a great way to engage both new and old customers. Look back through your blog and find articles that you think your readers would enjoy reading. Don’t be afraid to share them multiple times on each platform – particularly Twitter, where average readers per tweet is likely to be only 1-5% of your following – and across each of your social media channels.
2. Start a Campaign
It’s probably the last thing that you want to do when you’ve run out of social media ideas but starting a campaign is a great way to get out of a rut. The process of developing and starting a campaign – ideally by getting input from those around you – will help you to decide exactly what it is that you need to share.
It will also help you to post more regularly – and efficiently – by reducing the brainpower that needs to go into each update. Once your campaign is up and running you’ll already have some momentum and should find it easier to think of things to share with your followers.
Another added advantage of running a campaign is that if you really nail it your followers will be waiting for your next update, which will significantly increase user engagement.
3. Retweet, Retweet, Retweet
Twitter is a great place to go when you get stuck in a social media rut because you don’t actually have to create much of your own content. Sharing relevant content with your followers is much quicker and easier than focusing exclusively on creating your own material. If you’re adding value to your followers then it’s a no-brainer.
It’s also a good way to engage with other businesses and win friends; everybody loves getting a retweet!
4. Ask More Questions
One of the problems with social media is that we can forget what it’s really about; interaction. You might have noticed this with your business page or account, where you’re likely to experience lower engagement than a personal account where you’re sharing photos and updates.
Asking more questions is a good way to increase engagement with your followers. This could be anything from “what are you all doing this weekend?” to “what products would you like to see us bring out in the new year?”
5. Imitate Your Heroes
A common symptom of the social media blues is feeling inadequate when you look at other people’s feeds, either because they’re producing great content or because they’re getting much higher user engagement than you.
Instead of feeling overawed by your social media heroes, start imitating them. Think about the kind of content that they’re using. Retweet them – and the third-party content that they’re posting. Work out what they’re doing well and do the same thing.
When learning from other people, it’s always better to be influenced by several accounts rather than just one. They say that stealing from one person is theft but stealing from many is the heart of creativity. By imitating multiple people you’ll pick up more ideas and be less vulnerable to making the same mistakes that they are.
6. Take a Social Media Sabbatical (and tell your followers all about it)
Maybe you’ve had a lot of success with social media but you really have just hit a creative block. If that’s the case, a sabbatical might be just what you need.
The length of time that you take away from social media will vary on your circumstances, but anything from a couple of days to a month will probably help. You should come back feeling refreshed and a little less stuck – particularly if you’ve replaced the time spent worrying about social media with activities that energise and motivate you.
However, don’t just disappear without telling your customers first. Let them know what you’re planning – and when you’ll be back – and explain the reason why you’re taking a break. It’s likely that they’ll understand and respect you for your honesty, and some of them might follow your lead and do exactly the same thing.
7. Be More Visual
It can sometimes feel as though effective social media posts are all about the words. If you’re not funny, pithy and creative then how are you supposed to compete with everybody else?
The good news is that the statistics consistently show the value of visual social media updates. In other words, it’s not just about words – something that gushing wordsmiths and reluctant writers alike should bear in mind.
Buffer did some research into their Twitter activity and found that tweets with an image received 150% more retweets than tweets without an accompanying image. This isn’t surprising when you consider how much more ‘air time’ an image gets in followers’ feed than a conventional tweet.
This won’t necessarily work for everybody, but the general consensus is that visual updates are much more engaging than simply using text.
The graph from eMarketer is even more compelling, showing how effective photos were on the most shared posts from over 30,000 Facebook pages in 2013. Look at the difference between posts with a photo and posts with a link!
If you’ve run out of social media ideas then taking a more visual approach might help you to be more creative. Hopefully it will also be much more rewarding too.
8. Go Behind The Scenes
One of the great paradoxes of running an online store is that you can often feel embarrassed by your ‘smallness’ when in reality your customers are very interested in the inner workings of your fledgling business.
You might be encouraged to hear that 52% of America ‘small businesses’ (defined as a business with less than 500 employees) are home-based, and a whopping 75% are ‘non-employer’, meaning that they’re run by a self-employed entrepreneur. In other words, customers expect small businesses to small.
By embracing the fact that you’re not as big as your high street competitors you should be liberated to give customers a look behind the scenes of your business. This is a great way to find new content for your social media channels because we all have stock, premises, staff, family and homes that we can share. Knowing that this will make your customers more likely to trust and appreciate your business should help you to do this.
9. Stop Trying to Sell
We’ve already suggested that social media is about interaction, but it’s worth adding that sometimes you need to stop trying to sell. Finding original, engaging ways to tweet sales pitches is an exhausting task that nobody can sustain indefinitely. Besides, your followers are likely to get pretty bored if all you talk about is the stuff that you’re selling.
However, thinking more broadly about the importance and value of your social media updates should help you to produce content more easily. Remember that effective social media is about creating user engagement and building customer loyalty over time, not just generating a quick sale or two.
10. Invite Customers to Share Their Photos
A great way to get original, varied content into your social updates is to invite your customers to get involved. An easy way to do this is to invite customers to share their photos. It’s a win/win because you get content produced for you and customers get to be involved in your business, which is always a rewarding experience.
There are several ways to go about this. It might be that you ask customers to send in their photos of your products being used in different environments, eg “what’s the most unusual place you’ve used one of our ________?” This is a good way to create sales content without exhausting your customers.
Alternatively, why not invite customers to share images about their lifestyle. This is particularly savvy if you’re running a lifestyle or fashion brand because it demonstrates your interest in customers’ personal lives.
11. Tell More Stories About Your Business
Another surprisingly effective way to generate engaging content – and keep a public diary of your company’s progress – is to tell stories about your business. Again, this can feel vulnerable and counter-intuitive, but letting your customers know more about your business helps to build trust and show what they’re part of.
What kind of stories could you tell? It really depends on what’s happening and what you’re prepared to share, but success stories, sales/profits results, partnerships, staff news and product development are all parts of your business that have the potential to engage readers.
We know how hard it is to work in your business when you’re working on your business – and vice versa – but this simple tip should help you to keep your social media feed updated when you’re busy working on things that don’t feel much like marketing.
If you’re really struggling to create original content, why not let somebody else do the hard work? By sharing articles that you’re reading you’ll achieve two important goals; you’ll help to educate and entertain your followers and expose yourself to inspirational material that should help you to improve your own material going forwards.
This is a surprisingly effective tactic. You might feel vulnerable pointing your followers (and precious traffic) to other people’s sites, but in the long-term your readers will appreciate being shown new content and you’ll add value to your business.
13. Run a Competition
It’s certainly not a new idea, but running a competition is another good way to focus your energies and give you an engaging theme to talk about. Competitions allow you to reiterate the same message over a period of days and weeks without annoying customers.
14. Carry on Anyway
If you want to get better at something then sometimes you have to carry on even when you don’t feel like it. This is true whether you’re trying to run a marathon or learn to play an instrument and it’s also true when you’re writing social media updates.
There are always times when writing feels like a slog, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to reinvent the wheel. Keep working hard, manage your time well and listening to your audience and there’s every chance you’ll be out of that rut in no time.
15. Go Back to Your Vision Statement
If you’re struggling to produce regular, engaging social media updates then it might be worth revisiting your core vision and values. Having a written vision statement is a good way to keep yourself on the straight and narrow, particularly when you’re finding it tough.
How will this help you to get out of a social media rut? Well, it should remind you why you started your business and what you’re hoping to achieve. This will help you to think more broadly about the purpose of your marketing strategy and how social media fits into the wider plan.
16. Share Quotes (But Be Careful)
One of the best things about the social media era is the way in which it has helped us to engage with contemporary and historic wisdom. Inspirational quotes are a great thing for businesses to share. They’re also very helpful when you’re struggling to come up with your own material.
There are many great resources for finding quotes online – goodreads and brainyquote immediately spring to mind – but we’d urge you to proceed with some caution. Bombarding your readers with quotes will probably only have limited engagement value.
Instead, prioritise quotes that will be of most interest to your customers. Instagram has made it easier than ever to combine words and images, and you should think carefully about the right time of day to share your quotes.
17. Ask Your Customers What They Want to Hear
Sometimes you get stuck in a social media rut because deep down you realise that you’re not really engaging with your followers. A brave but important step is taking the time to listen to your customers and asking them what they really want to hear.
You might want to do this directly by contacting your most trusted and valued customers to ask for their feedback. The other extreme would be to do some data analysis on your social media content to work out what your customers appreciate.
Asking your customers what they want to hear will help you to understand exactly what you should be saying. It will give you the confidence to press on when you’re feeling uninspired, and help you to avoid wasting everybody’s time with irrelevant content.
18. Ask Yourself What You Really Want to Say
Lastly, ask yourself what you really want to say. At the end of the day, business should be something that you enjoy, and social media should be one of the most rewarding elements of your business because it directly connects you with your customers.
If you’re not happy then you’re probably not going to be producing a compelling social media feed. Reminding yourself what you’re passionate about – and then focusing on doing that thing to the best of your ability – is a great way to get out of a social media rut and start producing content that you can be proud of.