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Content ideas are easy. You can find tools online that auto-generate them for you… sometimes decently. The same can’t be said for linkable asset ideas, though.

Linkable assets are difficult to ideate because the intersection of linkable and on-brand isn’t easy to do. In our new video, we explain why that is and give you a framework for generating these yourself.

Audio Version

Video Transcription

Ross: Hey, everybody. I’m Ross Hudgens, founder of Siege Media, and today, I’m excited to be joined by Vince Nero, Content Marketing Manager here at Siege. Welcome, Vince.

Vince: Thanks, Ross. Thanks for having me.

Ross: We’re excited today to be talking about how to generate linkable asset ideas.

1. Identify Linkable Markets

The first piece of that process is to make sure that you’re creating an idea that maps to a linkable market, and what that means is that if you’re creating something that’s targeting seniors—maybe it’s an infographic—some people might say, “Hey, let’s reach out to senior citizen blogs.” The reality is that if you’ve actually done that ever before, that market doesn’t exist.

So, through some research, and getting to know these markets, and looking at the opportunities that exist, you’ll realize which ones are linkable, which ones are not linkable, and tailor your ideas to kind of fit those markets.

2. Leverage the “S.U.C.C.E.S.” Technique

The second piece, once you’ve identified that and know the areas where your ideas map to, is to move onto the Made to Stick S.U.C.C.E.S. framework. Tell us more about that, Vince.

Vince: So, the Made to Stick framework, is this model that was created by Dan and Chip Heath in their awesome book, “Made to Stick.” The idea comes back to the S.U.C.C.E.S acronym, which describes what makes an idea “sticky”.

S stands for simple. So if your idea is going to be something, you know, obviously really simple that you can just have a solid take away from.

The U is unexpected. That’s going to be something that you know, when somebody sees your idea, they’re not going to just be like, “Duh, I know that already.” It’s going to be something that is going to kind of elicit some type of reaction.

Then C is concrete. So, this is kind of like you want to draw some emotion, make some emotional… something they could kind of like they can take away from it, an actionable insight.

You want to be credible, that’s the second C. And that’s kind of a big one, I think, in this space because if you’re not credible… Say you’re a home security network website and you’re trying to pitch some idea about football helmets or something. It doesn’t connect.

The E stands for an emotional attachment. So, that’s something you really want to try to, again, elicit an emotion from somebody.

And then, the last S is going to be…you want to tell a story. So, whether or not you’re going to use an infographic, or maybe there’s an interactive, like a timeline, something that you can do just to tell a unique story that’s going to be cohesive and give a nice take away for the audience.

Ross: Yeah. So, I mean, that kind of framework that Vince talked about is kind of is the holistic thing that we tie all of our ideas back to. If we look at something that does poorly, we look at the Made to Stick model, and we inevitably say, “Hey, that data that we came out with, it wasn’t unexpected or for this client, unfortunately, we mapped an idea to them that’s not necessarily credible in any way.”

So, that kind of thought process tends to inform success or failure.

3. Complete “S.U.C.C.E.S.S.” with Shareable

One thing that I thought was really intelligent that was added to that concept by “Made to Stick” brothers was the idea of adding an extra S, completing success in the acronym, with shareable.

I originally heard it from Hannah Smith at a conference, who used to be at Distilled, and it basically ties back to the idea was that you can do those other things and still not make something that’s shareable.

Her specific example was maybe it’s like… “Where does your pay rate average across the world?” So, if you used a tool like that and you put in your salary, your position, and your market, and then it told you, “Hey, I’m in the top 1% of payment for my job description.”

If you shared that, you would kind of be a dick, to be honest, because, “Hey, I’m so well-paid,” and the reverse, if you’re not well-paid, you wouldn’t share that.

So, in the SEO industry, we’re thinking of things that are shareable, right? So our thought process with that is to make sure we consider that last S when considering the “Made to Stick” framework with our ideas.

4. Validate Ideas with Social Proof

So, we’re using the “Made to Stick” framework, we’re thinking about linkable markets, and then, we’re building on that to use different social networks and also SEO tools to validate and show that there’s something to show for that.

Specifically, we start with looking at concepts, and I think the highest value things are concepts with top and middle funnel search volume that also have link opportunity.

So, if you see that search volume, that’s by nature showing it has search demand or there’s some social proof that that exists. But, not always do linkable assets have a lot of search volume, unfortunately. You kind of have to find the intersection of that. So, you can use tools like Moz, or Ahrefs, or Majestic. What I like to do, say you do a search like “best infographics.”

You look at that list and you see who the top four are, and you see the top four all have 50 plus linking root domains, that’s social proof that people link to this market overall.

Additionally, you’ll see, hey, there’s 3000 people that search for this, so naturally, that there is some demand. Whether or not there’s link demand for it will still be unclear, but the tools will help validate that part.

The next piece is validating with social opportunity and the different tools that we can leverage to do that.

Vince: Yeah. So, obviously, aside from some of those other tools like Moz and Ahrefs, some of them have these types of capabilities, but BuzzSumo’s also a really great tool.

I think we use it a lot for validating with social proof because it hooks in Facebook, it hooks in Pinterest and Twitter, which is nice, because depending on the avenue and industry you’re in—like a B2B market—you might look for social proof in LinkedIn shares or maybe Twitter shares, but looking at something like Facebook, it might be better in the B2C community.

Also, seeing that you know lot of people are going to share something is great, but it might also just spark an idea for your own and that you can kind of port into your own industry.

Another thing we use, aside from BuzzSumo, that I think is great is Reddit.

It can be a mess if you don’t know what you’re doing. There’s a lot of internet trolls out there who are quick to pick up if a brand is being phony or trying to be commercial, so I think it’s great for ideation in that you get to see the real, true, raw emotion from people—raw feedback.

For example, one of our favorite subreddits for ideas is Data Is Beautiful which is a great subreddit sharing great data… but not always beautiful data, which is where you can add value.

There’s also an infographic subreddit that’s great, and you’re going to look for the top-ranking pieces. You can either work backwards, see what’s ranking, and like I said, see how you can port it into your industry, or you can use the top-ranking pieces as social proof that your piece is going to fit in a niche.

Ross: Yeah, that makes sense. And bringing it back to our first point about linkable markets, is that with the idea and that framework, I think it’s good to also think about what shareable asset you’re going to create.

5. Map the Shareable to the Post Idea/Linkable Market

So, we talked about senior citizens at first. If you’re pitching senior citizen blogs, you don’t need to create an infographic for them. They don’t have a lot of active blogs. There are a lot of link pages that exist, and they like more guides.

It’s just getting to know those different markets and what they like and don’t like will inform more success, but it’s always good to have a shareable asset in some way. So, you’re pitching high-end news. Again, they don’t like infographics either, but they do like mini shareables—things that they can add that add value.

In general, you want to be thinking about some kind of shareable asset that reduces friction to publishing and linking to your content. No matter what you do, it should be low friction.

And the good thing about senior citizen market and other resource page, link page-type markets are they are inherently low friction because they just have to add your link and that’s it, as opposed to high-end news, they have to write a full blog post, as opposed to mid-tier lifestyle bloggers, they have to write a full blog post. You have to consider all of these idiosyncrasies when thinking about your content and building a linkable asset.

The final piece of that, once you’ve done that, you have the ideation, is quality assurance of your idea.

6. QA with Uninterested Parties

Vince: Yeah, and that’s something important. I feel like I’ve learned this the hard way. Once you get really deep into a topic, it’s really hard to kind of see where you are in it.

So, sending it along to another team member who maybe isn’t as deep into the research as you or some other neutral third party in your team that can maybe run it through that S.U.C.C.E.S.S metric again. Or they can validate it to see if it’s actually a legitimate idea or if you’ve just kind of tunneled down this weird path.

Ross: Yeah, bringing it back again to social proof, it makes me think of using Reddit as a vehicle to test your ideas. You can just post to Reddit and do a self/text based thread before creation and ask “Is this interesting?” and “Would you find value in this?” and get valuable feedback.

You can also do that post-creation, but pre-pitching. I suggest posting that content to Reddit and the same brutal people can actually offer valuable feedback, so before you pitch it to 100 plus people and waste that effort, you can get immediate feedback and potentially improve your piece before distributing further.

So, hopefully, that general framework was valuable for you. If you liked the video, if you enjoyed it, please give us a thumbs up, subscribe, and let us know what you thought in the comments.

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