Targeting motivation: the ONLY way to engage

After 10 years as a digital content producer, I began to pay more attention to the social media community: what moves them, what is the psychology behind their online personas?

What kinds of words should I be using, and what kind of content should I be creating? What kind of strategy would work best to build my following? What kind of content should I be producing if I wanted to have a packed audience for my book releases, or if I wanted to fill my calendar with consultations? Which of my platforms would be best to use to ensure that my exclusive workshops are sold out within one hour? And which one should I use to document the year of research going into my latest book, so that when it’s released, it starts off on the bestseller list?

I analyzed every type of community member or follower I have ever seen, and developed an outline of four common audience members (based on their motivations). This list should instantly show why someone is successful or unsuccessful with their audience. It’s important to know that as part of your personal brand, you can target all four audience member types, or you can just decide to to appeal to one or two of them. One thing is for sure: when it comes to deliberate content creation, the following categories are of great help.


This audience member type loves it when someone gives it to them straight, whether in the form of inspirational quote posts, or an honest, personal post. In these cases they like, share, and leave comments saying, “someone finally understands me.” They tend to complain and feel hesitant making real change in their life, preferring an extra bit of hand-holding. They will not likely read the instructions on your blog about how to pull themselves together — they will only care about inspiration. They may know that something is holding them back in life, but they are not self-aware or reflective enough to identify the cause.

How you can appeal to them:

- Increase reach: activate them with qoutes, sweepstakes or giveaways, and produce new content for them weekly. This group (and the next one below) are great for building volume.

- Target them, if you build a fictional brand: for example, making an Instagram page for my pet. Later this can grow into a book or a series of events. This works for brands based on memes or merchandise, and for content strategies that do not include any branding techniques, just motivation.

- Attract new followers: Since you can reach a lot of people by sharing quotes, for example, there is a chance that the right audience will fall into your lap.


This group is different from the previous one in that they recognize what’s holding them back in some aspect of their lives (lifestyle, career, health, relationships, friendships, etc.), and want to take steps to overcome it. They have yet to find the right motivation to move forward and change their lives for the better, so they respond to inspiration. They don’t have a solid goal in front of them, and their lives are comfortable enough that nothing is forcing them to change. They are the types (probably 80% of humans) that are always promising to start their new diets tomorrow, or who say on January 1st that they will start exercising, but by the third week of January have already forgotten where they left their gym pass.

Types of contents you can use to activate them:

  • Inspiring posts about specific steps they can take,
  • Motivating videos and inspirational clips from films,
  • Video or audio clips from presentations, podcasts,
  • Interviews with successful people


With this type, something has already inspired them to change and they are on their way to personal success. For them, this is the only possibility, as there’s no turning back and no safety net. For them, inspiration isn’t enough — they need instructions they can use and action steps. They don’t want to become the 2nd type — that would mean the end of everything they’ve already achieved. A new world has opened before them, but they need help navigating it. They have already taken some steps, and they want to keep going.

They are positive, but the lack of a beneficial environment or sense of accomplishment can easily take away their motivation. They need feedback, which can best be given by a mentor or a supportive community (for example a Facebook closed group). They need to have their hands held while they take their first steps, and they respond well to praise.

How you can appeal to them:

This audience member type will reach out and activate if you give them know-how and solid steps to take. For example, a blog post about how to build a Facebook Closed Group step-by-step, or how to write a blog entry that could generate organic reach would appeal to them. Organize webinars, courses, or other kinds of training, and add them to a closed group, because their questions and success stories will help maintain and inspire the rest of the group.

Types of contents you can use to activate them:

- Content (blog entries, videos, online courses, webinars, etc.) that can help through a specific process (e.g. how to get your first 1,000 Instagram followers organically, or how to build your website on Squarespace). 
- Challenges in closed groups or on social media platforms (+ prizes are a good idea)
- Any kind of useful downloadable content (aids, guides, etc.)
- 21-day programs in closed groups
- Live webinars on the given subject (e.g. Instagram growth)
- Workshops
- Supportive communities (such as closed Facebook groups)


If you are building a personal brand, this will be your most valuable type of audience member. They tend to be deliberate, confidant, and successful, using every opportunity to learn new things and to maintain their position. They are active, ready for action, and are reinvesting their money for business growth. If they are building a personal brand, they know what their strengths are, and they are moving in the right direction.

How you can appeal to them:

This type is the reason everyone should develop a more expensive and more exclusive package. For example, for Lewis Howes’s Greatness Mastermind, the entrance requirement is a 6-figure income. The ones who sign up for this are already making a lot and are not afraid to learn from the best. It’s worth seeing how Lewis really does speak to every one of the four audience types, and gives everyone what they need without causing anyone to feel resentment.

This is the audience member that will be backstage at conferences, and who, though they are there as a presenter, will come up to you after your talk because they need your help. You are not necessarily going to reach this audience online — they will be the ones who come find you after your talks, maybe they saw something from you on Youtube, or they read your book.

If you are truly committed, create a closed group for this type of audience member or, if they are too busy to participate in one, organize an event for them. This is the group, that is in greatest need of belonging somewhere. Why? It’s simple — they have accomplished everything they’ve set out to do and they’re successful, but they have nobody to discuss their problems with or what they’re going through. They would love to meet a group of people, even twice a year, who understands them, and which is sufficiently filtered. If this community is able to grow, so much the better, since this will let them potentially increase their personal network. For example, this is what the WebSummit Founders program is about: they “lock up” top founders and entrepreneurs for days, who then surf and socialize together, while they may also be closing deals worth millions.

Types of contents you can use to activate them:

- Exclusive program (course, mastermind)
- High-value online course (at higher prices)
- News about industry innovations — how to incorporate the innovations into their business
- Success stories that support your expertise (perhaps summarized in newsletters)
- Retreats (1-week mastermind in an enchanted location)
- Exclusive private events (reception, networking dinners, etc.)

This breakdown of the four common audience types can help make your life easier when it comes to digital content. But the real game begins when you can practically identify the individual groups, and you are clear about which platforms you wish to use to communicate with them. Then you can compile your product pyramid, and create your content based on which of the four groups you want to appeal to the most. If you’ve been doing it the other way around — creating content and passively seeing who it attracts — now you have an alternative method that should put you back in the driver’s seat.