Here's a sobering fact - 98% of digital marketing efforts go nowhere. And I think I know why.
In 2017 I published over 300 posts at my last company's blog. Only eight of them brought in significant results - the ones that I call unicorn content.
The rest? Donkeys.
The problem is that we spend the majority of our time working on things that will give us a fraction of return - the donkeys - whereas unicorn content can garner an incredible amount of attention and engagement.
Unicorn content ranks high on Google, blows out key performance indicators and is clearly where we should be focusing our efforts.
But of course, it's not easy to pinpoint those top performers straight off the bat - if it were easy to find unicorns, there'd be a lot more of them.
To help with this, I've developed some shortcuts for hunting out content marketing unicorns, in order to improve your efforts, and reduce your time spent chasing donkeys round the yard.
Here are ten ways to seek out unicorn content.
1. Curate top unicorns from popular Facebook Pages
Facebook is the world's top social media platform, and there's a wealth of content on offer, which can help guide your own efforts.
To do this, look at the top performing Facebook Pages relevant to your business niche. Head to each Page and take note of what kind of content is getting the most likes, shares, and comments. It's also worth noting the type of content getting the most attention - images, videos, etc.
Bookmark your favorite Pages using Facebook's "Save" feature, then come back and check them out to stay up with the latest and greatest trends.
You can also use Facebook's 'Pages to Watch' tool, available within Facebook Insights. As shown below, when you've chosen Pages to add to your watch list, whenever you click on each, it'll bring up a listing of the Page's top posts from the previous week.
2. Hunt for unicorns on top relevant subreddits
Reddit is a rich source of user-submitted content, and the platform's upvote system enables you check the most popular content right off the bat.
You can gauge how much unicorn potential a piece of related content may have by the number of votes it has - let's say, for example, that you're making an infographic about digital marketing.
For research on the top performing graphics, you can visit the subreddit reddit.com/r/infographics and sort by the most upvoted:
You can browse subreddits relevant to your industry, and keep tabs on the top posts, formats and ideas, which can help you stay ahead of the curve with the latest shifts.
3. Mine Quora for frequently asked questions
Quora is an underrated goldmine of content treasures.
On Quora, you can search for questions related to specific keywords and subjects, and you'll be able to find common questions, and as well as deeper queries that you may not have considered.
You'll get ideas for new blog posts, and be able to build out your website's FAQ - you might even learn something about the topic yourself.
4. Use Medium to follow interests
I'm an active contributor, and a top author on Medium. The blogging platform can provide a lot of benefits for marketers, including the ability to reach new audiences and grow your following.
But apart from this, what I really love about Medium is its interest-based following.
In addition to getting ideas from the top posts in the interests relevant to your business, you can also take cues from Medium's formatting and layouts to enhance the readability of your own blog.
5. Find inspiration from videos
Whether you're focused on developing video marketing content, or you just want more ideas to flow, it's worth checking out the most popular videos on Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo.
Well-done videos are usually teeming with information that you can mine, and use within your own content to develop something even better.
6. Subscribe to the best industry blogs
Much of the best content comes from the top blogs in your specific industry - especially if they produce in-depth articles, and cover topics that are not usually written about.
You'll know a good blog by its significant percentage of content that's informative and unique. Most of the top blogs also spark a lot of engagement and discussion, both on their platform and on social sites.
7. Follow relevant hashtags on Instagram and Twitter
Hashtags can a great way to track topics, especially across Twitter and Instagram.
Through trending tags, you'll be able to what the most popular topics of discussion are, and from the posted examples, you can see how users on each platform like their content in each related subject.
Note how strong the visual language of hashtags is on Instagram.
Twitter is a more text-heavy channel, which can clue you into what people find most interesting in a given hashtag or topic at the moment.
8. Tap into user-generated content
User-generated content (UGC) can be a source of both insight and content ideas.
Reviews and feedback on your products, comments and messages on your Facebook Page, emails with comments and suggestions regarding your business - these can all be great sources of inspiration.
UGC can yield a targeted response, with specific details and concerns regarding your business - super useful to your business.
9. Find top performing posts on Pinterest
Pinterest's image posts show what kind of aesthetics people are interested in.
If you're looking to create visual content, like photographs, charts, infographics, and image macros - then Pinterest can be a great source of inspiration.
10. Repurpose your top performing content
When you create unicorn content, reuse it in another way at another time - make more unicorns out of your unicorns.
If a blog post of yours goes unicorn ballistic, turn it into an infographic or video or ad - or all three.
Repurposing your best performing content enables you to get more mileage out of whatever hits the jackpot among the content you publish.
You can add more detail, enhance specific elements, update with new lessons or new data - there's a range of ways to breathe new life to your unicorn content.
And with continued practice, you'll develop a sense for spotting marketing unicorns.
The more unicorns under your belt, the easier it is to create a long-term content strategy - with more unicorns and fewer donkeys.
A version of this post was first published on Inc.com.