When it comes to content generation, one source for ideas can often get overlooked: your brand’s fans and followers. Obviously the more passionate fans you have, the better, but even if you’ve only got a small group of followers, interacting with them is beneficial for both parties. On their end, your fans get the warm fuzzies from being able to give a brand they love some advice or suggestions and having them taken seriously. For you, you’re getting some free content while also strengthening the relationship between you and your customers.
When reaching out to your followers, you have a couple different options. First, if you’re staring at the screen with glazed eyes and a bit of drool threatening to escape the confines of your slack mouth, I’m guessing you’ve hit a bit of writer’s block (either that, or you’re suffering a mild stroke, possibly from having watched Gangnam Style too many times). If that’s the case, turn to your followers for a bit of crowd sourcing.
You can ping your fans for actual content ideas (“What topics would you love to see us explore in-depth? Share your suggestions!”) or, if you have a topic in mind but need help assembling the meat of the piece, poll your followers for some suggestions to round out your article. Whatever you decide, make sure to keep your followers in the loop with updates and proper kudos so they feel a sense of collaboration and reward.
Here’s a basic outline you can follow:
1. Tweet or share your initial question:
“What topics would you love to see us explore/write about/cover next? Share your suggestions!”
“What is your absolute favorite thing to do on a lazy Saturday?” (The former is a general open call for ideas, whereas the latter is a specific idea that needs rounding out.)
2. Respond to individuals who engage:
“That is a great idea, @soandso – definitely adding it to the list.”
“@fanofours Sounds like a pretty epic lazy Saturday!”
3. Keep engaging your fans and re-state your original question:
“You guys are sending us some great ideas! Keep ‘em coming!”
4. Thank your followers and start working on your content:
“Thanks for the awesome suggestions, everyone! Keep your eyes peeled for the finished product on [whatever date]!”
5. Debut your content (which should cite the folks who participated in your piece) with one last thanks:
“Thanks to our followers for helping out with this piece!”
“We asked, you answered, we published: [title of post]”
A second way to tap dat sweet, sweet follower reservoir is to do some research on which of your fans have blogs or websites and reach out to them to see if they want to write something about you. This is a great reputation management strategy as well as an easy way to cultivate some reviews of your product or service. They’re already fans of yours, so it’s safe to say the write up will be somewhat favorable. You can sweeten the deal by offering some sort of “exclusive,” like an interview with one of your head honchos, some free cheap swag, a coupon code or discount, etc.
This idea can take some more time as it involves compiling information about your followers, but it’s a great long-term strategy since you’re developing a relationship and can return to that well over and over again. Have some exciting company news? Hit up your blogger followers to see if they want to write about it. Debuting a new product or service? Ping them for a review. Want some feedback/market research on a new project? See if they want to offer some insight. You’re getting free content from your fans while also reinforcing why they love you so much—because you value their opinion and treat them with respect.
It’s great to amass a large group of followers via social media, but don’t make it a one-way street. Utilize your community intelligently and engage with them. They’ll bring you great content in one form or another, effectively working for you while strengthening their loyalty to your brand.
Rebecca Kelley is the Editor-in-Chief for ReputationManagement.com, an online resource of how to handle your online reputation. She specializes in content creation/marketing and community building. In her spare time, she trains for endurance events and gently pokes fun at her Korean mother.