When you Google “brainstorming techniques,” a majority of the articles talk about brainstorming for the creation of new products. But what do you do if you don’t need a new product, just an idea? An image, a video, a campaign?
These are the things that social media marketers are always on the lookout for, and brainstorms are an essential step in the process. They can be incredibly helpful, but only if they are done right. A brainstorm can quickly turn useless if not held in the proper way.
Here are some things to keep in mind when leading a content brainstorm.
1. There’s a Difference Between “First” and “Best”
It may seem like the best option for everyone to rush through a brainstorm; after all, everyone has more work to do. But speeding through the collection of ideas can hurt your creative process, and here’s why: The first idea is rarely the best.
Instead of creating one idea for each subject, product, or holiday your brand wants to discuss, treat the brainstorm process like a funnel. Focus on filling the board with ideas, which you can later tailor to fit the necessary buckets.
When you start a brainstorm, it’s important not to hinder any creativity. Accept all thoughts, and you’ll be more likely to leave the meeting with amazing content.
2. Being Encouraging is More Important Than Being Right
Many people think that the best step in a brainstorm is to immediately cancel any concepts that won’t work. The problem with that action is that it creates a negative space—one where people may not feel comfortable commenting.
Instead of shooting down ideas as they come up, ensure that no one has negative feedback by writing down every idea you hear (big or small). At the end of the brainstorm, you can go through with the team and choose the best pieces of content to create. This way, you’ll still end up with the best content, and you won’t limit the creativity of anyone in the room.
3. Don’t Get Too Caught Up in Timely Content
It’s easy to get swept away by the events you know are coming up. From holidays to sports games, movie releases to product launches, it’s easier to plan social media content around things you already know fans will be talking about. But does that make it better? Not necessarily.
Take a step back from your content and answer this question: Does it all fit in a calendar? If so, what you’re missing is evergreen content: imagery, videos, and blogs that can be posted at any time.
Try holding a brainstorm at a different time of the month than usual, and don’t discuss any timely content. You’ll likely come up with more creative ideas. Sprinkle those ideas into each month’s calendar, around all the timely content, and you’ll get better variety.
4. Avoid the Repetition of Team Members
Perhaps the most important step of planning a brainstorm is deciding who to invite. The team members for each account are not enough, especially when people have been working with certain brands for a long time.
You also want to ensure that you include a variety of minds—people that come from different roles and teams in your company—because they can introduce you to new ways of looking at problems.
Each time you hold a brainstorm, try to include a mix-up of people. Artistically inclined coworkers are usually a great option, but you should also look at untapped resources (those who don’t attend brainstorms often). Ask your office manager, someone from the HR department, or anyone else that you see left out of the typical brainstorm and see what thoughts they have. You’ll probably be surprised by their out-of-the-box ideas!
5. Brainstorms Don’t Have to be “One Time Only”
Gathering everyone in a room to brainstorm is definitely important, but creativity doesn’t stop when the meeting ends. Maintain an environment where the constant flow of ideas is both welcome and encouraged.
Try using activities that people don’t necessarily associate with brainstorms. Set up a jar for “idea donations,” or write thought-starter questions on pieces of paper throughout the office. This will get people thinking more often, and when the brainstorm comes back around, they’ll be ready and willing to throw in ideas.
In the end, the most important thing to remember is that you have to play to your employees’ strengths. While some people might be outgoing and quick on their feet, others might be reserved and need to think things out over time.
Figuring out what works best for your team is a process; not every strategy will play out perfectly with every person. Trial and error will get you far in your brainstorm revamp process. You just have to make the effort to start.
What is your favorite technique to encourage creative ideas?