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Between CopyPressed and our CopyPress Community Blog, more than 25 posts are published from the CopyPress office each week. (That’s not counting featured posts and guest posts that appear on other sites.)
That’s a lot of content.
And it’s more than a lot of words, it’s a lot of ideas. Every published piece needs an original idea that hasn’t been previously covered.
Coming up with that number of fresh ideas is a huge undertaking. But you already know that.
Keeping up with content creation for a blog is a major undertaking, and coming up with ideas, well, that is half of the battle.
This is especially true for our CopyPressed blog. With such a heavy publishing schedule (four posts/day), sometimes it feels like the idea pool has drained dry. So this month we decided to try something different.
Using our newly released Ideation Guide, we tried this new strategy for group brainstorming.
Rather than get the entire office in one room, where everyone comes up with one idea, we decided to do multiple, smaller brainstorming sessions in groups of 4-6 using the following process.
For a successful brainstorming session, you need one brainstorm lead and 4 or 5 team members. The Brainstorm lead will have a few additional responsibilities throughout the process, while the Team will be mostly responsible for contributing to the meeting.
Before brainstorming begins, all members of the group should spend some time getting to know the the blog and its audience. The CopyPress Ideation Guide section on Learning and Understanding goes into great detail on how to accomplish this through a series of questions and research tips.
This may require researching the client or company associated with the blog. Luckily for us, in our brainstorming session we could skip this part because we are already very familiar with our company.
But we did need to take time to identify our blog categories. You should always identify categories before you start brainstorming for a blog as this will be the base of all of your ideas.
The CopyPressed blog is based around four main categories which served as the base support of our brainstorming process.
Before you get the group together, all participants should spend at least 15-20 minutes alone Researching and Finding industry news and trends related to the blog categories. The Ideation Guide lists all types of strategies for finding facts, stats, and valuable details.
Each idea team member should jot down topic ideas and trends while researching on following sites.
Notes should include:
These notes will provide inspiration during the actual brainstorming session. The Ideation Guide goes into full detail on how to use these sites to properly research and find information.
The Brainstorm Lead will be responsible for creating a Mind Map prior to the meeting. Creating a Mind Map is simple. Start by adding the blog keywords to a board big enough that the entire team will be able to see it.
Then off of each of the blog category, add topics, trends, and words that are relevant to the starting category words.
I spent about 20-30 minutes really flushing out this map so that it would be completely filled with fresh keywords and related topics.
Here are some tips for flushing out your mind map.
If you are unable to build off of certain terms, ask yourself who, what, where, when why, and how about the term.
For example, if you are stuck on the term “LinkedIn,” and you can’t think of any offshoots of the term, as yourself:
Don’t get frustrated if some questions lead to dead ends or you end up repeating yourself. Erase what doesn’t work. Keep what does. You won’t have great concepts every time.
During the research step, I searched for LinkedIn in Topsy. I found these results which sparked concept ideas for my mind map (listed in bold).
If you are completely stumped for terms, try Ubersuggest.org. Using Ubersuggest, you can enter your keyword and it will prompt suggested terms organized by letters. If you I were trying to build off of Linkedin, this list would give me a few good building blocks: endorsements, etiquette, email and email signatures.
If you are going to do frequent brainstorming sessions, build out your mind map somewhere you won’t need to erase or remove it. We are working on putting ours on a projector so that we can pull it up any time we want to work with it.
In the CopyPress Ideation guide, we take a deep look into the elements that make a piece of online content interesting and sharebale. We found that there are six main Connection Hooks and Emotional Appeals that make content sharebale.
Connection Hooks are themes commonly found in great online content. We identify those hooks into six categories:
These Connection Hooks are useful during the brainstorming process because they get your mind moving in a certain direction without completing boxing it in.
We also found that the best way to make content even more shareable is to make it emotionally appealing, because content layered with emotion has a higher likelihood of connecting and resonating with audiences.
Emotional appeals are helpful during the brainstorming process because they help enhance ideas by adding an emotionally appealing spin to the original idea. This will help make the idea more likely to connect with the audience.
To bring Connection Hooks and Emotional Appeals to your brainstorming session, create a grid with intersecting columns and rows.
Draw this on the board or project it next to the Mind Map. Feel free to add or remove emotional appeals that you feel best fit your audience and blog. We found the following terms worked best for us were: Funny, Engaged (emotion created by an extremely deep look at something), Scary, Amazing (awe inspiring), Sad, Annoying, and Shocking (surprising).
This image shows our wall chart, along with our brainstorming session in action.
Gather the group in front of your Mind Map and Chart then assign a note taker. The note-taker will be responsible for documented the session digitally. While participating in the meeting, the note taker will also write out the ideas generated during the meeting and as well as writing out all information that supports the idea.
(This should be shared with all of the Brainstorming team after the meeting to ensure all ideas were properly conveyed and documented.)
The moderator will be responsible for leading the session. This is important because time can quickly be lost if and when the group falls off track. The moderator needs to:
With the entire team positioned in front of the mind map and chart, start the process.
The Moderator should pull a term out of the mind map and/or ask a team member to choose a term or topic from the mind map.
The team, using what they know from their research, should think about how tie the topic to a Connection Hook and start the conversation.
From there build out the ideas by then categorizing it by Emotional Appeal.
By adding an emotional appeal, even if it is small and subtle, the idea becomes more defined and unique.
The moderator will write in the general idea in the grid so that the idea isn’t repeated. The note taker will document the idea with a full description so that the ideas can later be shared with others.
Don’t feel as thought you can’t add more than one idea to a box in the grid. The goal is not to fill the grid, but rather use it as a shaping tool that helps box in your ideas.
And remember not to burn yourself out. The group process should take no more than an hour. Any longer the the group get mental fatigue or begins to trail off on unrelated topics.
Brainstorming is an ongoing process. Keep the ideas fresh by bringing in new groups and mixing together old groups.
Fresh ideas come from fresh minds so keep the energy light and make this a fun process rather than a chore. Do this monthly or weekly.
We did three different sessions, each with different groups and were able to generate about 30 great ideas from the meetings.
This was the process we used. Now go try out the process yourself! And let us know how it goes. What works for you? What doesn’t work for you? This process is an evolution and we are learning as we go and we’d love to see what you learn as you go.
Compelling online content relies almost entirely on one thing: A Good Idea. We need good ideas to make content effective and useful. This training guide will take you through the entire ideation process and help you understand how to create compelling, results-driven content ideas.
The process outlined in this guide can be used for ideation for a variety of content types including: blogs, infographics, webinars, eBooks, podcasts, and more. So what are you waiting for?