You already know about the importance of content for your business (hint: it’s vital for SEO, social media material and engaging with your customers). But with the need for so much high-quality content, you may find yourself running out of ideas on what to post on your blog or social feeds. When you’re struggling to generate new content ideas and need a brilliant burst of creativity, we suggest you turn to the popular technique of mind mapping. Here’s how.
What is mind mapping?
Mind mapping is a fun brainstorming technique that helps you quickly and easily develop new ideas for just about anything. It’s a simple, visual strategy that anyone can use to organize information and come up with new topics for blogs, social media posts, press releases and any other communication needs. Mind maps are essentially diagrams that start with a central topic and branches off into topics and subtopics. Here is another colorful example to help you visualize what a mind map looks like:
Note that while those examples are particularly creative, yours don’t have to be colorful, visual or have graphics at all if you don’t want them to. Making them more visual helps some people get creative juices flowing, but that’s not a requirement by any means.
How to make a mind map
Ready to get started? Grab a blank piece of paper. Note that you can create a mind map on your computer if you prefer, but it’s faster and easier to start with actual paper. In the middle of your page, write down the main category or idea you want to start with. Say you’re a marketer who wants to frequently discuss content-related topics. Great—start with content in the center of the page and draw a circle or square around it.
Now think of some sub-topics under the broad category of content. For each one, draw a line, like a tree branch, coming out of the middle and write the sub-topic at the end of the line. For content, some sub-categories could be SEO, social media, blogging, writing skills and so on. Then, go to each sub-category and think of sub-topics for it. (If you’re looking at a mind map like a tree, the main sub-categories are like branches, and each of their sub-categories are like twigs).
Let’s take social media, for example. Think of all the possible topics you could write or post about related to social media. You could draw a line with names of all the different social networks, and then come up with more sub-categories for those. Or you could be more general, with sub-topics like “social media 101,” “choosing the best social networks for you,” “Pinterest vs. Instagram” and so on. Don’t stop and judge your thoughts. Just write as the ideas come to you.
You can get as detailed as you want, and you can draw as many sub-topics for each item as you can think of. The point is to brainstorm like crazy so that when you’re done, each “twig” on your page represents a possible topic to write about on your blog, post about on social media or feature in an email newsletter. You started with “content” and hopefully ended with dozens of more targeted, interesting ideas to share with your readers and followers. This exercise will hopefully help you see that there are endless possible things to write and post about—it just sometimes takes a little visual diagramming to see how many topics there really are.
They help with writer’s block, too
So you drew your mind map and you have the perfect idea for your next blog post or article, but you can’t seem to get started. Lucky for you, mind mapping is also a powerful tool for dealing with writer’s block and getting your wheels spinning.
You’ll run through the same exercise, but this time, your central idea on the mind map will be the specific blog or article topic (as opposed to a broader topic like “content”). Once you write that down, start thinking of sub-topics you could cover in this article. Draw these off the main theme as your “branches.” These should be overarching themes or important sub-categories that could act as the subheads in your post.
Then think about what details are important for you to cover in each of these areas, and write these in as your “twigs.” Here’s a great example of a mind map for a specific topic. This technique helps break one big idea into smaller, digestible chunks. It’s a way to outline your thoughts, and it can be invaluable for busting through writer’s block.
If you need help getting your content strategy off the ground, Message Sprout is here to help!