Innovative Content Trumps New Ideas

Want to hear something crazy? In 2013, people were producing five exabytes worth of content per day. To give you an idea of how much content that is, the human race produced that much from the dawn of time until 2003. Every new tweet, blog post and Buzzfeed article puts us exponentially beyond where we were just a few years ago, in terms of content creation. With that much competition, it’s easy for things to get lost in the clutter.

In two recent blog posts, Blue Compass’ Stephanie Grangaard wrote about habits for creating original content and provided a great guide for writing original content.

Once you’re creating content, you need to focus on ways to make it stand out in an increasingly crowded internet.

Truly new ideas are few and far between. A quick Google search will likely turn up dozens of similar ideas. What you should be asking yourself is, “How do I come up with an innovative idea?” That’s doable. It’s not easy, but worthwhile accomplishments rarely are.

Here’s a look at some innovative content that has caught our eye, along with the eyes of millions of consumers.

Reebok ZPump 2.0 challenge 

In February, the shoe company Reebok set up an outdoor ad in Stockholm, Sweden, that tracked pedestrians’ speeds. If they ran past the sign at faster than 10.5 miles per hour, they got a free pair of shoes.


Free products might earn you goodwill with consumers, but turning it into a challenge made it something everyone wanted to take part in. Instead of just an advertisement, it became a story participants and passersby would share with friends and post to their social media accounts.

Nike snaps up most of the biggest names in sports for sponsorships, leaving second-tier athletes for other shoe companies. Instead of spending a lot of cash on someone who isn’t LeBron James, Reebok made consumers the star for the cost of a few dozen $100 pairs of shoes.

Giving away products isn’t a new idea, but a straight shoe giveaway would have resulted in boring footage of people standing in line. Rather, Reebok engaged a crowd and made them excited about trying to win shoes in an innovative way.

Cooking with Content Marketing 

If you read a lot of articles about content marketing (or anything else online), you’ll start to notice some themes. “6 Quick Tips for ____.” “8 Things You Should Never Do in ______.” Numbered lists are easy to write and attract clicks from Facebook and Twitter, but after a while, they start to blend.

Kyle Gibson’s article, “Content Marketing Cookbook: 5 Easy Recipes for Quick Content” took what could have been a simple list and tweaked it enough to make it stand out in a crowded field. What would have been bullet points in another article became “ingredients.”

The result is an article that lays out its points like a good cookbook would; short, simple and with easily digestible results. It could easily have been, “Content Marketing: 5 Easy Tips for Quick Content,” but a few tweaks gave Gibson a more memorable piece of content.

Showcasing Products in Unique Ways 

If you wanted to show off a blender, you might make a video demonstrating how it makes shakes, smoothies and maybe a salsa if you want to get adventurous. Barring a really innovative recipe, you might end up with a few dozen YouTube views from a video like that.

In 2006, Blendtec was looking to show off its Total Blender product. Rather than showing what people would expect to see blended (Margaritas? Yawn.), Blendtec founder Tom Dickson wanted to show off his product’s power. The result? The YouTube series, “Will it Blend?” You can find out more about BlendTec’s story in the Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) excellent documentary, “The Story of Content: Rise of the New Marketing.”


“Will it Blend?” is like a combination of “Mr. Wizard” and “Jackass” for people looking to buy blenders. Dickson has blended iPhones, marbles, credit cards, golf balls and a whole chicken with 12 ounces of Coke, dubbed the “Cochicken.”

Instead of demonstrating things you would normally use a blender for, Blendtec has made a name for itself using blenders in ways most sane people would never attempt. It’s just a simple demonstration video, taken to crazy lengths. The result is more than 270 million YouTube views and almost 900,000 subscribers.

An Old Spin on a New Idea

Commuters often turn to podcasts to deal with long drives to work. If you’re a regular podcast listener, you’ve probably heard countless ads for companies like Squarespace and MailChimp on your favorite shows.

Advertisements during podcasts are less likely to be skipped over because they’re short. The listener may be driving and they’re often done by the podcast’s hosts, making them feel almost like part of the show.

But what if instead of just advertising, a company became a content creator in this field? It happened with “The Message,” created by General Electric and Slate’s Panoply Media podcast network. This podcast is about cryptologists trying to decode an alien message, with the results described as “’Serial’ meets ‘War of the Worlds.’”

Last year “The Message” hit No. 1 on the iTunes podcast charts, attracting more than a million listeners per episode. It works because GE doesn’t treat “The Message” like an advertisement for the company’s products. It’s engaging content created by a company, rather than a network.

But this isn’t a new idea. Soap operas got their start when Procter & Gamble started producing content in the form of radio dramas back in the 1930s. CMI also had a great segment on P&G’s content creation in “The Story of Content” documentary. General Electric had its own General Electric Theater radio and TV series, hosted by then future President Ronald Reagan. Like radio, there’s a low cost of entry for podcasts: writers, studio space and voice talent. Unlike radio, there are no time constraints, FCC restrictions or need to land your show during a prime slot.

The Heart of the Matter

Good articles and infographics can work hand in hand to get across an idea. Blue Compass wanted to go above and beyond for UnityPoint Health’s “Healthy Habits Lead to a Healthy Heart” infographic.

Minimal animation turned what could have been a fun infographic into something visitors engaged with longer. Seriously, watching a tiny heart eat popcorn and laugh is the cutest thing ever. There’s a lot of animation, but it doesn’t overwhelm the information or bog down when viewed on a phone. Instead of weighing visitors down with heavy facts, everything is presented in an adorable and entertaining way.

All Things for All People

You don’t want to get stuck in a rut of just blog posts or infographics or white papers. What works now might fall out of favor quickly. If you need some inspiration, look to Netflix.

Almost everything you watch on HBO “feels” like something that belongs on HBO. Their content has an identity that ties into HBO’s brand. But Netflix is creating content with an audience in mind, not a brand.

The result is the same company releasing award-winning films like “Beasts of No Nation” along with lowbrow comedies like “The Ridiculous 6.” Netflix can be home to a slick political thriller like “House of Cards” and a throwback sitcom like “Fuller House.” It can be the source for documentaries like “Making a Murderer” and cartoons for kids.

It works because Netflix got its start by incorporating content from a variety of sources. Users were already used to turning to Netflix to see the latest movies, TV shows from a variety of networks and obscure options most people would never have given a chance in a video store. When Netflix started to create its own content, the options reflected what people were already using Netflix for.

What started as a few programs has grown into over 100 original programs. The company is expecting to spend $6 billion on content in 2016. The week before “House of Cards” premiered in 2013, Netflix stock was trading for $14.17 per share. In March 2016, it was over $100.

Now it’s Time to Innovate 

Looking to get creative with your web content? Blue Compass can help. Whether it’s web design, social media or content marketing, our team of digital marketing experts can help you meet your goal. Talk with us today.

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