Content marketing works when you consistently publish popular, trending content that your audience will enjoy. Generating that type of high quality content all the time, however, can soon prove a challenge to even the most ambitious business bloggers. This quick guide looks at some of the best tools to help you keep your content hopper full of great ideas.
As you review the options, remember that the best tools are the ones you actually use, so give a few of them a try and see which ones help– and, just as importantly– which ones you really enjoy using on a regular basis. These are just a few of the ways to source and curate content online. We’ll talk more about using internal company resources and customers in a future article.
Online Tools to Find Trends and Topics
Flipboard gets points for both its modern news feed and its appealing mobility. This Android and iPad tablet app is a magazine aggregator designed to make it easier to find news stories or interesting content in specific sectors. You search and save stories, then swiftly curate them into personalized magazines. Plenty of general industry-related guides exist for a broad overview, but you also search for anything from people to hashtags to bring in a more specific view. Thanks to the growing Flipboard community, you can also search for customized magazines that others have created and subscribe to them to save a lot of work. All in all, Flipboard is a great idea generator and a way to keep tabs on your industry or find interesting news stories to right about.
AllTop, Feedly and Smartbrief
This entry is three in one, because these tools are all similar news feed aggregators. AllTop is a highly generalized service, and allows you to search the latest news articles and blog articles around the Web on any particular subject. Use it if you are short on time to browse in a way that Flipboard encourages.
Feedly is a slightly more advanced app designed for both mobile devices and desktops. It serves as a simplistic news collector, helping you to build a highly personalized profile of your interests and letting you share stories with others – and view current industry news in terms of popularity.
Out of the three, Smartbrief is the most specific, created for industry professionals who want to keep an eye on more technical trends and opinions for informative blog ideas.
The mobile app SPUN gets its own heading because of its focus on local events. This is a great aggregator for smaller businesses that want to draw in consumers by focusing a blog on nearby topics and events. The app allows for some personalization, but it is primarily designed to offer a city-based view on news.
While Pinterest may feel a little out of place among content tools and news aggregators, the highly visual social network can serve as an adaptable companion in your blog brainstorming. The numerous Pinterest categories offer a surprising number of blog ideas for your business, particularly when it comes to DIY projects, innovative product uses, and customized work. However, you can also use your own Pinterest space to rapidly pin various reminders and ideas, making it a digital creative whiteboard to help field new ideas and pick out the most promising. It is also great for promotion when you reach the publishing stage.
Paper.li started as a Twitter tool that let you create your own mini newspapers based on trending Twitter topics. As the tool grew more popular, it turned into a more complex sharing tool incorporating a wide variety of visual and print media from across the Internet. Paper.li is a great choice if you want to quickly create content pieces from Twitter without needing to build your own articles from the ground up. The Paper.li newspapers are also very shareable and can be an addition or substitute for more traditional blog work.
Inbound.org is a community of marketing professionals that offers a wide variety of advice and information on web advertising. At any given time the website boasts a long list of pieces on mobile marketing, SEO (or lack thereof), generating leads, and making great blog pieces. Visit and search the site for advice on creating the effective blog posts, as well as ideas on how to frame articles and what topics to tackle.
Zoomph is a content platform for professionals, which means you will have to dish out some money in order to pay for it. In return, you get social analytics and handy conversation trackers that let you see exactly what is going on in social networks at any given time. The benefits of these features can be numerous, but for blog purposes they allow you to tap into trends while they are happening. At a glance you can look at all the biggest trending words and incorporate them in today’s blog post for maximum effect.
Soovle is an extra-simple content aid for those who love brainstorming but need a spark to get started. The concept is basic: Type a keyword or two into the Soovle search bar, and Soovle will show you the most popular searches for that keyword on major sites like YouTube, Google, Bing, eBay and Amazon, other several others. This creates an instant list of inspiration for you to use.
Named after the popular friendly dolphin, Bottlenose is a visualization service built to help businesses spot trends, identify links between trending keywords, and find out what type of posts to create for maximum effect. Like Zoomph, Bottlenose is a professional service that requires some investment, but its website offers you an interactive example of how its trend mapping works before you buy. The full service lets you set up all sorts of feeds that tap into the most influential social media work.
Topsy is not unlike Soovle, but instead of a broad keyword search the site collects and displays specific media pieces from popular feeds like Twitter, Flickr, Digg, Yelp and famous blogs. You can narrow down the search to specific media objects, or set up alerts and reports to manage social activity. This may prove more useful when it comes to picking out great blog ideas – and sharing them with the right people.
Medium is a writing space, but there’s nothing else quite like it. The web application allows you to create articles quickly, but it also includes a community of other content creators doing the same thing at the same time. You can share posts and ideas with others in the community and publish on the Medium network for greater reach.
One of my personal favorite tools, Scoop.It helps you find “scoops” from all over, curated in a stream of scoops that the app finds for you based on a few simple preferences. The app also allows you to create and follow others’ channels, and even create your own curated pages. (We used to host an entire section of “Blog Post Ideas” that drove great traffic for us, and have to rebuild it now that we relaunched our site. Look for that to be rolled out again soon.)
As a content creator, it’s not uncommon to find yourself hunting and gathering for a good idea, then rolling with it, only to repeat the process for the next article. Think about it more like farming, where you collect new ideas from the usual sources that you tend to daily. That way, you find yourself out in front of topics and not simply reacting to them.