A few weeks ago, I had a wonderful social media exchange with the community manager of a restaurant here in Chicago called Nellcôte. The interaction eventually led to an invitation for a friend and me to come to dinner as her guest. Needless to say, I was tickled. It was flattering to be invited and exciting to look forward to a girl’s night out on the town.

But all that excitement didn’t come close to comparing with the delight of the meal.

As we sat down in the artfully designed restaurant, my friend Jenn and I gleefully perused the menu and ordered until our hearts and stomachs were content. We chose some of our favorites like shaved asparagus salad and sea scallop “crudo,” delighted how delicious they tasted prepared in this expert chef’s kitchen. Our server introduced us to new favorites like English pea agnolotti and venison tartare. The meal was one I won’t soon forget. We were beyond satisfied.

The exchange with Kara (Nellcôte’s Yelp community manager) was fun. I felt special. It whet my appetite. But it was the meal that will make me a Nellcôte customer for life. It was the food that was ultimately more satisfying.

Can you guess where I’m going with this?

Engagement on social media is important. Whatever tool you choose, whichever platform you speak from, social media is a must. It gets your audience’s attention. It brings them in the door. It’s the appetizer. But in the end it is your content that will add the most value. Your content is the main course. Your content is going to keep them coming back – or, heaven forbid, keep them from coming back.

Had Jenn and I sat down to an empty table that night it wouldn’t have mattered if Kara were as sweet, engaging and responsive as she could be. Our incredible meal is what closed the deal. Content is what will keep us coming back.

Here are a few things to consider to ensure you aren’t inviting your audience to an empty table:

Quality over Quantity

If time is what is keeping you from filling the table, better to write one or two quality posts a week than churn out daily dribble. Give yourself a break. Focus your energy on creating valuable content rather than just “I have to post something” content.

Invite Others to Contribute

It may be true that too many cooks spoil the broth, but a little bit of collaboration doesn’t hurt. Introduce your readers to another point of view and maybe reach a new audience in the process. Just remember you are the head chef. Your voice must be heard regularly.

Turn One Post Into a Series

If you discover that a post is starting to go long, break up your points and turn them into two or three posts. Ditch the list *gasp* and write a series of more in depth posts on each point instead.

Now it’s your turn! What tips and tricks have you discovered to regularly produce new, valuable content on your website or blog?