content idea generation

Blog and Content Idea Generation

This data was originally featured in the August 10, 2022 newsletter found here:

In this week’s Data Diaries, let’s take on Katie’s opening topic, about blog and content idea generation for marketers (or anyone), and see if we can expand on it in a data-driven approach. One of the most popular and richest repositories of user-generated content on the Internet is Reddit. With topics (called subreddits) for nearly anything under the sun, chances are if it exists, someone is talking about it on Reddit.

The bonus for us as data-driven marketers is that Reddit has a rich, powerful, and public API, one which many different services can connect to. Over the past year in the r/marketing subreddit, thousands of discussions have occurred which could provide us with bountiful topics for creating content. How do we know which topics we should tackle?

Of course, as a creator, you can simply look at all the topics to pick and choose which ones you feel most comfortable writing about; however, if we want to capture the zeitgeist of the moment, we might want to use some performance data to guide us. Let’s step through the process. First, we need to obtain the data itself. Reddit’s API is robust and well-documented; use the programming language or application of your choice to access the data.

Once you have the data, it’s time to see what’s included.

Reddit raw data

We get all the usual suspects – likes, comments, the post title, contents, and URL among other fields. These metrics will assist us in creating our list of topics. To identify our more popular topics, we’ll identify the median number of engagements per post and then filter to capture the top half of posts. After that, we should look to see what the major conversational topics are, using natural language processing:

Reddit top topics

Unsurprisingly in a subreddit about marketing, we see familiar friends – social media, email marketing, Google Ads, etc. We know we’re on the right trail. Let’s further filter our content to only include posts that have a question mark in the content, the sort of prompt that we’d want to tackle. This is entirely optional; you might write best reading someone else’s stated opinion and then agreeing or disagreeing with it.

Using these top topics, let’s label the rest of our data so that we can easily sort and filter the tens of thousands of posts:

Reddit labeled data

This looks great. How many social media-related posts are there in this pile? 2,681. My goodness, that’s quite a bit of content still. Let’s slice off the top 30 posts by engagement and see what’s in the box:

Reddit top 30 social media posts

Now we’re talking. Let’s clean this up and make it presentable as a readable page rather than a table. Do we have some great starting ideas for content?

Reddit table view

Here’s one of the detailed entries:

Does anyone else they just don’t “fit in” with their agency team?

I interned at an agency in college and swore I’d never do it again. I unknowingly took a job at one a few months ago. I expected the dynamic to be entirely different.

I’m not a super bubbly person. I have dry humor, I’m sarcastic, I don’t like a lot of people, and I’m pretty serious about work. Don’t get me wrong, I like to get to know people and have personal conversations and make connections. I’m not quiet but I’m pretty to the point.

My team loves their inside jokes and discussing social media trends and celebrities and bland TV shows. We had a call where we discussed all doing a TikTok trend and sending in our videos and everyone was excited about it while I was internally cringing and dying. Honestly, it stressed me out – the thought of thinking about and creating this stupid TikTok video gave me severe anxiety. And then the thought that I’m clearly the “outlier” on my team has me stressing too.

Anyone else feel like this?

This is a terrific writing prompt. Let’s tackle another one:

What is the best way to market on social media without paying for ads? It seems like social media applications these days push you in the direction to pay otherwise they burry you. Is there more natural ways to use social media in a free way without having to pay? Is it posting regular content, having competitions or something else interactive? Any thoughts from experienced marketers out there?

I’m sure you could come up with quite a bit of content in response to this question.

This process works for literally any topic on Reddit but obviously works best on topics where discussions are common (as opposed to subreddits which are mainly sharing of media and memes with no conversation). Let’s tackle wine, a subject I know very little about.

Reddit wine topics

Pinot noir, which I’m pretty sure is a red wine, is one of the top topics. Let’s see what the questions and conversations are in there:

Reddit Pinot Noir conversations

If you were a winery or a restaurant or a sommelier, this would be a gold mine. Here’s one topic:

I am about to make plans with what I would consider as one of the most important dinners of my life: dinner with an old flame. I want to find a wine that’ll knock BOTH our socks off. In the past, I’ve impressed the ladies and myself when I go for Sauvignon Blanc, any good old sparkling, Wilamette Valley Pinot Noir, Vinho Verdhe. Always have been my go to-s.

But this time we’re going to do an omakase menu so I have no idea what in the Hell they’re going to serve us. As far as I know, it’s fancy nigiri. I have never done something like this before. But I do know I can bring whatever wine I want. Budget is <$50, I live in a big U.S. city so I can get whatever wine I want, I’ll drink anything sparkling/dry/earthy/medium fruit. What should I do?

While I don’t know much about red wine, I do know most of it doesn’t go well with sushi, so if I were in that industry, I’d create some strongly worded language that most sushi and most red wines probably aren’t good pairings. Generally speaking, white wines and lighter beers tend to go better with sushi. (also, what is fancy nigiri? by definition, nigiri sushi should be nice and simple! I have so many questions…)

The advantage of using data-driven content idea generation is that you’re leveraging what you already know people will react to. Instead of tossing out a topic that might or might not get the engagement that we – and the AI algorithms we’re subordinate to – crave so much, we can rely on proven topics and prompts to create content around.

As you develop your content calendar for the next period of time, consider using real conversations from real people to serve up your writing prompts.

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4 thoughts on “Blog and Content Idea Generation

  1. Thank you for sharing excellent blog content like this. Your strategies are brilliant! Making content ideas is so hard nowadays, and as much as possible, you want to give followers amazing and unique content, and I find your writing beneficial. Great work!

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