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Free Content Ideas for Social Media

Now, you’re ready to get started and are equipped with an infinite number of posts you can use for social media in the coming weeks. Be sure to bookmark this page so that you can come back later and have an array of free content ideas to help you keep your social media consistent. You never know when one of these ideas will strike a chord with your audience, and how that might lead to exponential growth.

We are sure that you know this already, but we need to say it anyway: making the most of your social media channels is no longer just about sharing posts and getting more followers. These channels have become a huge marketing opportunity for brands and businesses on every level. Needless to say, social media is a popular way for your business prospects and fans to discover you, and vice versa.

Written posts, blogs, articles, guides, and more

Advantages: These articles demonstrate your company’s knowledge and expertise, which can help build your credibility and reputation.

Disadvantages: There is a lot of blog content out there, so competition is thick—and you need a lot of creativity to create new topic ideas. Writing also takes a lot of time to generate content ideas, especially if you’re explaining complicated concepts.

How to produce: To help you think of compelling content, look at trending searches. This will give you insight into the questions people want answers to, which can spark ideas about what to write about.

Best platforms: LinkedIn and Facebook are perfect for these types of content, especially when it comes to articles that are 1,500 words or longer. You can post the whole piece, a short snippet, or a link to the piece. Twitter is also a great bet, but the limited character count means you can only include a link and a small quote, which still can drive traffic to your website.

Pro Tip: Embrace the content calendar. Your content calendar is a framework for the ongoing story you want to tell about your business and what content to share. When you take a holistic view of your social media or email marketing output, you can turn ideas and broad strategies into an actionable plan that can be tweaked as you learn more about what works best.

Use our content marketing editorial calendar to visualize when and how you connect with your audience. The calendar displays your scheduled and completed marketing emails, social posts, postcards, and digital ads. You can filter your calendar to display your marketing for a specific audience or all audiences.

Electronic books (eBooks)

Advantages: An eBook tends to be longer and more detailed than blog posts, which helps showcase your industry expertise. Far fewer businesses take the time to produce an eBook compared to blogs, too, so you avoid that heavy competition.

Disadvantages: Not everyone wants to read a whole eBook, and they take a lot of time to produce and find content that will appeal to your target audience. While they can help generate leads, people don’t always actually read them.

How to produce: An eBook is several blog posts compiled together as chapters from the same category. You’ll want to choose your best content or even hire a professional writer with experience writing eBooks.

Best platforms: Users come to LinkedIn to connect with colleagues and learn relevant information about their job or other interests, which makes it an ideal network to share an eBook. Facebook and Twitter are secondary options.

Advantages: If you don’t have time to finish a blog post or your writer is on vacation, you can always link to relevant articles, resources, and websites from other sources that you trust. Industry leaders are also excellent resources for content.

Disadvantages: When you link to content that you haven’t created, you’re effectively opening a door to another business’s social media experience. Readers may even find the other source more informative than your page. Content curation is a good digital marketing strategy to use on social networks, but it also can be time-consuming. It is important to check your social analytics to be sure that curated content is engaging and effective, and not to stop your content creation process.

How to create: Research different blogs using keywords similar to those on your website. (Keywords are words or phrases commonly searched on the internet.) Make sure to read every post and click around on the website, too. This will ensure you don’t share an article on social media accounts from a site that could negatively represent your brand’s views.

Best platforms: LinkedIn and Facebook are great marketing tools for any type of written content, even if it’s just linked to the content. Twitter is a secondary option.

Images

Good images or videos increase engagement and endear your brand to customers. They can also keep customers from quickly swiping past your post and missing your message.

Advantages: Visual content is much more digestible and engaging than long-form blogs and articles. Smartphone cameras are sophisticated enough to take stunning pictures, and apps help you quickly edit them, add filters to them, and more.

Disadvantages: Image-focused platforms like Instagram have a lot of competition. If you want quality beyond a smartphone’s capabilities, a professional camera and editing software can cost a lot and be very time-consuming to use.

How to produce: Pictures and images are some of the easiest content to create. It’s as simple as grabbing your smartphone or camera and snapping a picture.

Best platforms: Images work well on every platform, but Instagram and Pinterest are by far the best networks for pictures. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat are alternative options. Attaching an image to a blog post can also help improve engagement and clicks.

A few tips for image posting on social media:

Get stellar art for your social media campaigns. You don’t have to be a photographer to use stock photo websites like Pexels and Unsplash, which offer great images, many of them free.

Avoid images with too much copy on them. Did you know Facebook takes this into account when approving posts for ads? If you’re not sure if your image has too many words, here’s a handy checker.

Use more photos with faces in them. People-heavy images get more engagement on Instagram posts, and they can humanize your brand. Say cheese!

Videos

With the advent of smartphone cameras, it’s never been easier to hit record. Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes it, and it can be a fun way to show off your wares. Plus, as live streaming has hit the mainstream, consumer expectations for social video have shifted. Videos that feel rougher around the edges can feel more native to social platforms. Give it a shot and include them in your content strategies!

Advantages: Capturing videos is easy and convenient—and they’re more engaging than pictures. How-to guides, video tours, and product updates and demonstrations all make for great video content that can both drive traffic to your website and increase sales.

Disadvantages: It’s inexpensive to make quick videos, but costs escalate if you want a high production level.

How to produce: Similar to images, video production has a range of difficulties. Where you decide to land on that spectrum will dictate whether you need specialized skills and equipment.

Best platforms: YouTube is the king of video content, but videos also perform well on Facebook. For shorter videos, Instagram is the best option, even above YouTube.

Video Stories

Advantages: Stories are images and short videos that last 24 hours before disappearing for good. They’re available on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. Keep users updated about events, offers, or other announcements—or give them a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your business. The possibilities are truly endless!

Disadvantages: The fear of missing out can be a powerful motivator, but their short life expectancy also means that some users might not engage with them.

How to produce: The option to produce an image or video story is in each social media network’s app. High-quality production is not needed, making them easy for any business to create.

Best platforms: Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat have popularized this content type and remain the best options.

Live Videos

Advantages: Live videos are a great medium to bring events to audiences that aren’t physically able to attend. Unlike stories, which are gone after 24 hours, you can still watch live streams later.

Disadvantages: First you need something to stream, such as an event. Then you need someone to operate the smartphone or other device and talk. The WIFI connection is also important. If your connection is bad, the video may need to repeatedly stop and buffer, which can result in poor quality.

How to produce: Like stories, social media platforms that support live content make the option readily accessible and convenient to users. They’ll show a preview of what your audience will see, which allows you to make sure everything looks good before you go live.

Best platforms: Facebook Live is the most popular live-streaming social media network. Smaller platforms like Periscope are also viable, but it may be harder to draw as large of an audience.

Pro tips: If you’ve worked hard to create great images or videos for your social media posts, make sure they look good on mobile devices. Almost 3/4 of the global population uses a mobile phone, and nearly 80% of the time on social media is spent on a mobile device.

Stay inspired. Keep a list of brands or organizations whose social media imagery you love, and check-in with them from time to time for more content ideas.

Infographics

Advantages: Infographics use visuals to support explanations, statistics, and other written concepts. They are especially impactful for conveying complex ideas.

Disadvantages: Creating infographics requires both copy and graphics, which means you may need multiple people working together to create them. They also require a fair amount of creativity and research.

How to produce: First you need to create an outline for your infographic. Once the outline is done, your writer and graphic designer can begin creating the individual parts and piecing them together.

Best platforms: Facebook and LinkedIn are both excellent options for infographics. Twitter is a choice.

Testimonials and reviews

Advantages: People trust the opinions and experiences of others more than what a business says, which is why testimonials and reviews are so valuable.

Disadvantages: Encouraging customers to offer their testimonials isn’t always easy. Also, this is the only content type that isn’t really in your control. With reviews, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be positive.

How to produce: Contact past customers and ask if they’ll offer up a testimonial. It’s bad practice to incentivize people to review your business, however, as this can come across as dishonest, and review sites like Yelp may punish you for it.

Best platforms: Testimonials and reviews work well on Facebook and LinkedIn. Facebook even has built-in star ratings on business pages.

Announcements

Advantages: Getting the word out about new products, events, live streams, and other noteworthy things can help build hype and alert people about what’s happening with your business. Audiences love having the inside scoop on their favorite stores and brands!

Disadvantages: Carefully plan out the length of time that’s appropriate to begin building buzz. Launch the announcement too early and you might not gain any traction.

How to produce: It’s often best to trickle out information slowly. Think of announcements as a bunch of little teases leading up to the big news.

Best platforms: Announcements can be made on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and even through social messaging through social media tools as long as you adhere to the best practices of that network.

Contests

Advantages: Because people like to win, social media contests are engaging and fun to host.

Disadvantages: You need a prize, which costs money. And if the process to enter the contest is too demanding, participation may be low.

How to produce: Think of a prize that your audience will be interested in winning. Ideally, this will be related to your business, but this isn’t mandatory. Then create a schedule for how long the contest will run as well as rules for entering.

Best platforms: Contests can be run on any social media platform, but don’t overdo it on more professional platforms like LinkedIn.

Get more social media content ideas on how to grow your lists with giveaways.

Holidays

Advantages: Many users love holiday-themed content, and it’s easy for businesses like yours to piggyback on themes, traditions, and other holiday-specific concepts.

Disadvantages: There are only so many holidays in the year, and major ones like Christmas create lots of competition because many other small businesses create festive content, too.

How to produce: Think about how you can use the holiday to enhance your content. What questions does your audience have around this time, and how can your content solve those challenges?

Create a daily, weekly or monthly series

Want to make your social feed feel more like an event versus a laundry list of random posts?

Start a series where you have the opportunity to interact with your fans and followers regularly. By providing relevant content at a consistent clip, you can build a habit among your audience to look forward to seeing specific content from your brand.

For example, on our Sprout Social Instagram, we start the week with a Stories series called Sproutouts. Every Monday, we share inspiration and helpful content for the week ahead. On Fridays, we close the week with Sprouttakes, featuring highlights and content you might have missed from Sprout as well as leading brands on social.

This regular schedule shows our community what to expect and offers a relevant, helpful way to bookend the work week with Sprout. And, it gives us a template to follow that includes curating examples from other brands, so it’s relatively quick and easy to produce.

Run a contest or giveaway

People can’t resist the power of “free.”

Running the occasional contest is one of the most impactful social media ideas when it comes to potential engagement from followers.

According to data from Tailwind, 91% of Instagram posts with more than 1,000 likes or comments are related to a contest. Meanwhile, accounts that run contests regularly are noted to grow 70% faster than those that don’t.

Crazy, right? But when you look at how much love posts like this one from Birchbox receive, those numbers don’t seem so farfetched.

You don’t necessarily need a third-party solution or service to run a contest. All you need is a combination of the following:

  1. Something to give away. Ideally, the prize for your contest should somehow be related to your brand (think: free products or a membership). Big-ticket, unrelated items tend to attract freebie-seekers that won’t translate into long-term followers.
  2. Terms and conditions. To cover yourself legally, terms and conditions are a must for your contest. This template from Shortstack can clue you in on exactly what you need. Additionally, these points will make your contest seem more legitimate and not like a potential scam.
  3. A point of contact. On your terms and conditions page, make sure to leave an email address where people can get in touch with questions or concerns.
  4. A creative way to enter. Whether it’s through user-generated content or a hashtag, asking followers to post about your brand is the best way to encourage entries. After all, the purpose of a giveaway is brand awareness, not just to give away free stuff. Check out how Modcloth requires entrants to use a specific hashtag:https://www.instagram.com/p/Bbcn5bXnIvS/?taken-by=modcloth

Oh, and hashtags are by far the simplest means of keeping track of who entered your contest for free.

You don’t need to run contests week after week to reap the rewards. Contests are a great way to spike your follower count and engagement and are a great social media idea for campaigns you’re looking to enhance, such as new product launches.

Host an AMA

Popular on Reddit, an AMA (ask me anything) series represents an awesome opportunity to educate and engage with your followers. AMA’s are essentially Q&A sessions where you get to share your knowledge, experiences, and insight.

If you’ve overcome struggles or have clout in your industry, you likely have the chops to conduct an AMA. From sharing success stories to personal challenges, such sessions can be compelling for audiences and brands alike.

Why bother hosting an AMA, though? What’s the point? Consider how an AMA ticks the following boxes for brands:

  • You get to show off your personal side, showcasing the face behind the curtain of your business
  • You raise awareness for your brand without being pushy or salesy about it
  • You learn more about the concerns and interests of your audience

If you have a large team, you can encourage each member to conduct their own AMA over time to give a sort of big-picture view of your brand.

Conduct a social media takeover

Sometimes injecting some new life into your social feeds means letting someone else take over.

Takeovers put the reigns of your social accounts in someone else’s hands, usually for 24 hours. Handing off your social presence to an influencer or celebrity with a massive, active audience is a prime way to get your brand in front of some new faces, as well as inject a new voice into your account if you feel you’re running short on social media post ideas. You can also let someone else in your company take over your account to give your feed some flavor.

Consider business partners and industry relationships that could be good candidates for a takeover. The purpose of a takeover is to get exposure, so ideally choose someone whose audience demographic is relevant to your own.

For instance, the foodie site Food Republic regularly lets popular chefs take over their Instagram accounts. By handing off their accounts to chefs from around the world, their followers always have fresh content to look forward to.

Share, pin, Retweet & regram

Don’t be afraid to let your fans and followers do the talking.

Remember, not all of the content on your social feed has to be your own. Conventional wisdom tells us that it shouldn’t be. Promoting other relevant brands, articles, and photos from your followers is a great content idea that shows that you’re part of your industry’s conversation, not just a parrot.

For example, Sprout recently shared this quiz because it was relevant to followers stoked on the world of marketing.

As noted in our guide on the best times to post on social media, brands should strive to follow the 80/20 rule of promotion. That is, your feeds should be made up of 80% entertaining and engaging content and only 20% promotional content. This keeps your feed from feeling like a sales pitch.

If nothing else, a regram or Retweet is relatively painless. This example of UGC from TOMS required little more work than a creative caption and still got plenty of love from followers.

The takeaway here? Not all social media post ideas have to be in-depth or complicated, especially if you already have a dedicated following.

Create bite-sized video clips

Video content marketing has become a must-do for modern brands. Unfortunately, many see the investment in video as being too complicated or out of their reach.

But when you consider that video content gets exponentially more shares than video or text, brands should give some serious thought to creative social media ideas that incorporate video.

That’s why bite-sized video clips are still a perfect idea for Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Such clips require minimal editing, can be shot in a matter of seconds, and are prime for sharing. Here’s a good example from Krispy Kreme

Don’t worry about filming full-blown commercials, but rather short, creative clips to keep your followers entertained.

Conclusion

We rounded up the best sites for free content to help you save time and money on creating the next viral content. With these resources, you can create a social media strategy with the best visual out there without breaking the bank. Whether you’re going viral or just looking to go a lot further than your competitors, this list is bound to come in handy!

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