Is there such a thing as an original idea anymore? It’s a question that has been debated over the ages. But when we’re told that in order to succeed in content marketing we must provide unique content, are we being naïve in thinking that’s achievable?
At some point we have to admit we’ve reached peak originality. The internet has made all the world’s ideas available at our fingertips, and in this sea of useful knowledge, somewhat useful opinions and unbelievably useless (but wildly entertaining) gifs and memes, it’s difficult not to drown in the white noise. So is it futile to believe we can cut through this noise? No, not if we have a realistic understanding of what is actually meant by ‘unique content’.
Unique does not mean new
It’s easy to confuse ‘unique’ with ‘new’, but by doing so you are giving yourself an impossible task. Unique content can simply mean taking an existing idea and putting your own spin on it in order to appeal to different audiences. If I’m going to get all meta here – take this blog I’m writing. I’m not saying anything that hasn’t already been said, but nevertheless there won’t be an exact copy of the article anywhere else on the web. What is different is my particular tone of voice and style of communication.
We need to stop chasing the unattainable dream of coming up with entirely new ideas but, rather, ask ourselves the question ‘What is my unique take on this, and how can I make it useful for my audience?’ Once you’ve done all that soul searching, here are some helpful tips to get you started.
1. Get the channel and format right
You have your topic and you’ve researched what else is out there. But have you thought about where it’s being distributed and in what format? Sometimes all you need to stand out is taking the same idea but communicating it using an unexpected method. Is everyone writing articles? Why not try video? The key is going where your audience is, but surprising them with something different.
2. Inject some personality
What will get you noticed – and what will be hard for others to copy – is your particular tone and style. Don’t blend into the beige abyss of so much branded content; instead say something of substance! Be thought provoking, be funny, be silly, be interesting. Thanks to the speed of modern life, we all have short attention spans. If you have any hope of capturing someone’s attention for more than 30 seconds, you need to be doing something with a distinctive point of view.
3. Involve your audience
This is sometimes considered the holy grail of marketing, as involving your fans can result in increased loyalty, engagement, reach and, most importantly, fresh content. Your audience is filled with so much untapped potential, and you are almost guaranteed to be producing something that hasn’t been done before. A great example of effective user-generated content is Burberry’s Art of the Trench blog, where users upload photos of themselves or others looking painfully chic in the brand’s iconic trench coat.
It’s easy to get caught up thinking that your content needs to be new in order to succeed, but it just needs to be different. After all, the fact that we’ve probably exhausted every original idea hasn’t stopped thousands of talented and creative people from still trying to give us new versions of the same old things.