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Three Sources for Social Media Content Inspiration

Matt Peters
September 11, 2015

We've all been there. We know our brand like the back of our hand, and we know this month's messaging priorities. But despite that, we can't think of a single tweet or FB post that doesn't feel stale and boring.

Writer's block is as old as writing itself, so it should come as no surprise that we marketers occasionally find ourselves at a loss when we are tasked with cranking out hundreds or thousands of social media posts each month. Let's face it, the "content rut" is real.

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At Cortex, we are working hard on a number of different ways to use artificial intelligence to help guide your creativity. We don't just want to help you get our of your content rut, we want to make sure you never find yourself in one again. This is a big task, and it's really complicated (just ask our VP of Engineering). But we're making progress every day and we already have a number of features that serve this overall mission.

But in the meantime, here are a few other ways to get out of your content rut.

1. Do Something Else

Though the science isn't exactly rock solid, I firmly believe in the Shower Principle. (And, yes, there is an episode of 30 Rock about this). When you focus on something too hard for too long, you diminish your ability for creativity and inspiration. In fact, Einstein supposedly played the violin when he was stuck in a rut. Doing something else puts your focus elsewhere and opens the way for inspiration. This can lead to that "aha" moment or great creative idea when you are doing something as basic as shampooing your hair in the shower. 

2. Pinterest

One of the reasons people get stuck in a creative rut is because they are always looking at their own content. If you work for J. Crew and spend all day every day looking at only J. Crew clothes, J. Crew pictures, and J. Crew marketing, your mind is going to get bored. And when your mind gets bored it's not exactly a wellspring of creativity. So you need to look at something else.

If you have been tasked with cranking out content about the new fall collection and you find yourself banging your head against the wall as your try to find a 27th different way to talk about sweaters, then run to Pinterest. Search for the topic you are struggling with and get lost amid the pins.

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Some of what you see will be crap, but at least it will be different crap. And 'different' is what your brain needs. You'll see all sorts of different images, angles, colors, framings, word choices, quotes,  statements, and opinions. Chances are, if you wander around enough, you'll come across a new turn of phrase, a new image cropping, or a sentence structure you haven't used before. Now, I'm not advocating that you plagiarize, but use those different examples as inspiration for new ways to tackle the remaining sweater content you need to create. 

3. Learn From the Past

Chances are that you are creating so much social media content, that you don't remember what you made last month, much less last year. In fact, it's entirely possible that content from that long ago wasn't even made by you. And that can work to your advantage. The past can be a great place to find inspiration and break through that block.

With a software like Cortex you can easily go back to content from one, two, or even three years ago. So if you are sitting around struggling here in September, 2105, go ahead and pull up content from the second half of 2013. Better yet, don't waste time looking through all of it, but instead sort it by the best-performing and quickly glance through the top 20 or 30 best-performing posts from that time. I'd bet there will be features of those posts (wording, framing, tone, etc.) that will spark a little fire of creativity somewhere inside you. And when you bring that fire back to the present, you'll find it much easier to break through that creative rut.

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