It may surprise you, but staying in the know with your company is more compelling for Twitter followers than getting a discount. Among those who follow brands, 38% of Twitter users chose to follow to get updates on future products, and 32% to stay informed about the activities of the company. One in four want more – access to exclusive content they can’t get somewhere else.

For many, this desire to become an insider goes beyond just knowing what’s going on – they want to impact what’s going on. Among consumers generally, eight in 10 want to co-create with companies.

Feeding them this information about your brand that interests them will keep them happy. But it’s an ongoing job; 52% of users stop following a brand because the content becomes boring or repetitive over time. Your brand must become a publisher, churning out interesting content about you and related topics. And you have to listen to and learn from your followers, co-creating the information and products they want.

Followers want discounts, but don’t get too promotional.

Close behind their interest in your brand is a desire for discounts. Thirty-one percent of users follow a brand to receive discounts and promotions, and 30% to stay informed about upcoming sales. Yet, there’s a massive imbalance in demand for promos and supply – 50% of brand tweets are promotional in nature. And this imbalance shows: 21% of users unfollow a brand because the tweets are too promotional, and when their stream becomes “too crowded with marketing messages” 41% of users will start unfollowing brands.

And freebies will get you followers, but they don’t stick around. Nearly 3 in 10 (28%) social users have followed a brand to get some sort of sample, coupon, etc. And then 27% of users later unfollow a company because they only followed to get a one-time offer.

So, balance out your deals with interesting brand-related content, and consider other channels to dispense deals. For example, 77% of consumers prefer email over social for permission-based promotional messages.

Niche accounts can serve varied needs.

Staying informed and getting deals top the reasons why people follow brands on Twitter, but that’s where the long tail kicks in. About a fourth of consumers (26%) follow brands looking for fun or entertainment; 23% simply want to display their support for the company; 20% want to share their ideas and feedback with the brand; and the list goes on. You can’t be relevant to everyone at once, and therein lies the danger: 15% of consumers unfollow brands because the content was never relevant to their specific needs.

So, keeping your followers interested when their interests are diverse may mean going niche to serve different needs. You could engage the deal seekers with one account, the wannabe insiders with another, and so on. The average number of Twitter accounts for a Fortune 100 firm is now 10.1, and 10.4 on Facebook. Ford, for example, has a number of Twitter accounts to serve different car fanatics  – eco-friendly drivers, truck lovers, etc. Get to know the different types of consumers following your brand, and if it makes sense for your business, give them niche ways to connect with you.

These stats, their citations, and more like them can be found in our recent Conversation Index webinar, available here.  Kyle Lacy, Senior Manager of Content Marketing and Research at ExactTarget, and Ian Greenleigh, Manager of Social and Content Strategy at Bazaarvoice, share findings from 26 million tweets to illustrate how social intersects the “real world.”