5 Types of Social Media Content Your Audience Really Wants

Why do we follow brands? What’s the point? They’re not our friends. We’re not going to make plans with them on a Friday night or invite them to our birthday parties (though some we would if we could). Why do we let them into a world where we’re sharing and consuming content from the people closest to us?

Social media has provided a unique opportunity for consumers and brands to connect on a level much deeper than that of a monetary transaction. It may sound obvious, but it’s worth noting that historically, a true fan of a brand didn’t have many options for celebrating his fandom. I could watch my favorite show, but I couldn’t get behind-the-scenes content (unless that too was on television). I could purchase a shirt bearing the logo of my favorite team, but if I wore it in a special place (say I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in it), how would they know? I’d have to mail them a picture, and even if they received it, where would they share it? The relationship was one-way, aside from the moment when I handed over my money and they handed me the product, or when I sat down and tuned in to my show.

There’s no single reason we follow brands, but it’s certainly rooted in the idea that we as consumers, supporters and fans want to have a deeper relationship with them. But just because a fan wants to follow your brand doesn’t mean you’re entitled to provide them with any content you wish. On the contrary, a fan can opt out of receiving your brand’s content with a single click, so it’s imperative that they’re receiving the type of content that’s valuable to them.

To that end, we’ve put together a list of 5 things your audience really wants from your social presence.

1. Fan Content

Have you ever been to a concert and just wished that the singer would pull you onto the stage with them? Of course, that rarely happens at concerts, and chances are that if it does, you’re not the one who’s pulled up there. And just like a stage, social media is a platform that overlooks a large audience (often much larger than a concert audience!). The ultimate thank-you, which takes little time and hardly any money, is to celebrate the content created by fans. It’s not that fans necessarily want to see content from other fans (though often they do), but that they want to know there’s a possibility that their content will be shared.

2. Behind-the-Scenes Content

The casual fan may be content with the limited interaction they have with a brand. Simply buying and wearing the hat, eating the candy or watching the show is enough for them. But the true fans want to go deeper. They want to look behind the curtain to a place only a certain number of people can see. They want the unreleased footage, the photos of the actors on set and the outtakes, like this cool photo set of actors laughing in between takes.

3. Shareable Content

I used to wonder why Facebook pages like “WTF Crazy Videos” and Twitter profiles that just post quotations existed. But as spammy as they seem (I mean, with no real brand to promote, what is the page/profile manager getting out of it?), people do follow them because they provide users with content to share. I’m not suggesting that your brand start auto-scheduling quotations or scouring Reddit for the latest #fail video, but when determining your content plan, think about this: Where’s the content that audiences will want to share with their audiences? Is the content you’re creating actually worth sharing?

4. Exclusive Content

Why would a fan follow your brand’s content if everything you post there is accessible elsewhere? If you’re just posting your readily available commercials on YouTube or links to your products on Facebook and Twitter, there’s no value in actually subscribing to, liking or following your brand’s accounts. Consider releasing content only on a specific channel. This can be anything from video blogs to sneak previews to coupons to presale codes, but make sure fans can’t get it anywhere else. The Boston Celtics made more than $200 off me recently when they sent a special presale code for playoff tickets to their email newsletter list. I hadn’t planned on going to a game, but when the code provided me with great seats before most other people, my plans were set. It ended up being one of the greatest games (and days) of my life.

5. Participatory Content

Most of our personal social-media activity is passive stalking…I mean monitoring. But this doesn’t mean that social media users aren’t up for a good game or contest! One of my favorite examples is from the WGN America (a Story client) How I Met Your Mother Facebook page, where WGNA has created albums of its fans suiting up (an homage to Neil Patrick Harris’s character, Barney Stinson) as part of a yearly “International Suit Up Day.” Giving your fans a way to participate (especially if prizes are involved) is a great means of activating them, and in turn they’ll be on the lookout for your content.

Every brand is different, so not all this content is applicable to every brand; but try to be open to sharing new types of content. It not only solidifies the relationship between your brand and its fans, but also gives your fans a reason to follow it.

Read more from Jon here.

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Jon Thomas

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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