Focus on audience needs, maximise social for holiday-related content

By Summer Moore

USA TODAY NETWORK Ventures

Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA

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However unbelievable it may seem, 2021 is almost over.

It’s mid-November, meaning our audience is thinking about the coming holiday season. In the United States, this starts with Thanksgiving.

When thinking about holiday content, it’s important to think about what our audience is doing and what they need. Here are four strategies when thinking about how to serve your readers during this time.

1. Think about what they need

Thanksgiving is often the freshmen return home from college. In-laws come to town. Families and friends gather with an extra day or two off.

In December, many companies give time off around Christmas and New Year’s Eve and Day. Again, this is a time when family comes to town, college students are back from school, and smaller kids are home for a few weeks.

Young adults might be stuck at work and not able to make the trip, but they still have some time off. What do all of these people need? Things to do.

One of our signature events is Community Choice. This is a programme where we ask readers to nominate and vote on their favorite businesses and services throughout a community. We had more than 250 of these across the United States in 2021.

The Community Choice Awards highlight favourite businesses and activities as voted on by local residents.
The Community Choice Awards highlight favourite businesses and activities as voted on by local residents.

This content is perfect for the holidays. It’s a huge list of things to do as voted on by readers. From places to take your aunt for a spa day to the best store to go clothes shopping, this content is gold to repurpose at this time of year.

2. Once you know what they need, think about how they need it

Once the audience need is established, think about how this audience should receive the information.

You have busy parents stressing out about how to entertain the kids, their parents, and in-laws. How can you keep your cousin Jimmy occupied all day while he’s in town with his new wife and young kids?

People are entertaining for larger-than-normal swaths of time. They need more than just dinner; readers need day-time activities for all ages.

Think about how you would want to receive this information. Is it a list of kid-friendly activities? Is it a recommended full-day adventure? Is it places to drive? Places to walk or hike? Theatre options? Probably all of the above — but this audience doesn’t have time to read a 1,000-word review. They want the information delivered short and sweet.

A helpful tip for this kind of content is to use photo galleries as a storytelling tool. Can you grab photos of the best sledding hills in the area? Then use the caption to give the address and other relevant information. That can be a great user experience.

3. Use social media to your advantage

Lists are perfect for social media platforms.

People like to scroll through lists, just as they like photo galleries. Use that to your advantage. Are you listing breweries with holiday brews? Get a picture of each, and use video if you have it.

Social media is a great place to share content for people looking to entertain family and friends over the holidays.
Social media is a great place to share content for people looking to entertain family and friends over the holidays.

A lot of our audiences are coming to our content through social. Save them time by creating the list right on the platform. Give them something at their fingertips to guide them through a unique experience they can show off to their friends and families. These lists are highly shareable and will likely bring in new readers.

Another idea is to create social cards. Social cards are simply graphics that have information on the image itself, rather than in the caption. This is a great way to engage your social audience, especially because research shows people aren’t reading captions as much, specifically on Instagram.

4. Ask for feedback and ideas

Whenever you put together lists of things to do, ask for readers’ input. Not only does this help with engagement, but you are likely to get suggestions you didn’t know about or forgot about. Ask people to make suggestions in the comments section or e-mail you directly if the callout is sent in a newsletter.

Always ask your audience questions. When you reach out, they can get involved in your content. If they suggest a place or activity and you end up putting together a new list, guess who will click and share?

At the end of the day, what your audience is looking for might be different than this. But if you follow the four steps, you will get to the same place. Find out what they are looking for, think about the best way to deliver it, use social to your advantage, and ask for feedback.

About Summer Moore

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