Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of university students about social media. One of the many great questions was about finding content.  If we are supposed to create original content and curate the best content from around the web to feed our Facebook and Twitter streams (not to mention other channels), where do you find this stuff?

Before I give you my sources, Duct Tape Marketing’s John Jantsch wrote an article called “The Problem with Content” where he talks about the reality that the real problem with creating content is whether or not the content is focused on our customer’s needs.  Certain types of content can get a spike in website hits, Facbeook comments or retweets, but is it useful in getting your customer to know, like and trust you (where you ultimately want them to be).  John shares some great insights that you will want to read. Click to read John Jantsch’s full article, “The Problem with Content.”

OK, I want to share with you the top 3 sources for the content that I find and share on social media:

  1. Twitter – I can honestly say that my Twitter stream has produced more blog posts than customers for me.  That doesn’t mean that my activity on Twitter hasn’t moved a customer to know, like and trust me, but I can testify that my most productive use of Twitter is finding content that is relevant for our customer base.  I use HootSuite to manage my feed which allows me to not only follow people, but I can set up multiple streams that include targeted search terms and hashtags.  For example, in addition to tweeting at the @MarketingTwins, I also tweet for our private Christian school marketing clients at @schoolmktg.  The screen shot below illustrates that I can, at a glance, see streams for the hashtags, #ismarketing, #schoolpr, #edsocialmedia, and #christianschool.  These allow me to find articles and people all focused on my private Christian school market.
  2. Facebook – I know this may seem odd, but I like a ton of business pages, especially if they are also curators and creators of content.  This is a well of ideas for me to either share or find inspiration for a blog post.  John Jantsch’s post mentioned above was first seen on Facebook (even though I know he sends that out via multiple channels).  I will also share another article at the end of this post that I found from another Facebook business page that had shared this article by Jeff Bullas.
  3. Google Search – if I have a client who is looking for an answer, or I want to write a blog post about a specific topic, I will often simply type my keyword search into Google.  One thing that many people do not know is that Google allows you to narrow your search – notably by time.  You’ll see in the screenshot below, right below “Web” there is a default drop down menu that says “Any Time”.  You can choose from more narrow topics like, “Past Hour,” “Past 24 Hours,” “Past Week”, “Past Month”, “Past Year” and then even an option for “Custom Range”.  If you want to to “WOW!” your customer, send them an article you found with the “Past Week” option selected and you will instantly sound like the subject matter expert/content sleuth that could produce a very current article related to their issue!

There are many other ways to find ideas or inspiration for great content.  Some Google Reader users have switched to a site called Feedly to replace GR since it is shutting down.  I once was a Bloglines and Google Reader user, but I have chosen the 3 options above as my primary feeds for the best content around the web.


PS – Jeff Bullas recently wrote an article called “20 Ideas for Content that People Love to Share on Social Media.”  It is an easy read and full of practical ideas, especially if you are looking to create original content for your readers.

Click to read:  Jeff Bullas, “20 Ideas for Content that People Love to Share on Social Media.”