A critical mass of brands, businesses, marketers, and corporate executives may have a presence on social media today, but that doesn’t mean they have a clue what they’re doing on these online communication channels.
Sure, some of them may be thriving in the space, attracting a loyal following and carving out a reputation for sharing timely, indispensable content that couldn’t be found anywhere else.
However, an overwhelming majority seem to fall into one of two categories of still doing it wrong. Either they don’t know what to say so their collective silence is deafening, or they’re broadcasting the same old promotional messages over and over again so they sound like a cacophony of carnival barkers.
Many of them seem at a loss on how to strike a happy medium with both their content and cadence, missing countless opportunities to connect with their constituents and earn their unconditional support.
Of course, being creative, entertaining, and informative can go a long way toward helping you build a big audience on social media, but simply being yourself may be the easiest way to score points there.
Here are 10 ways to humanize your social media brand and win over the crowds on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the like…
1. Don’t be a stranger
Don’t hide behind a corporate logo and post in anonymity. Let your audience know there are real people behind the scenes. Put a collective face on your brand by introducing yourself and your team. Who you are as people is of utmost importance. Your interests and emotions count as much as the facts and information. Show that you have more than just a pulse, show that you have a personality.
2. Talk in the first person
Your social media accounts are run by human beings, not logos. So talk that way. Refer to your brand in the first person — the collective “we,” or if you’re your own boss, “I,” — not the name of your company. Be available, responsive, and conversational. If you personify the qualities you admire in a best friend, you’ll not only spark more meaningful engagement, you’ll build a lot of trust.
3. Avoid corporate speak
Forget the buzzwords and jargon. You don’t have to impress anyone with your vocabulary. This is your chance to come across as the colleague next door, someone who’s as down to earth as they come. It’s OK to talk business. You certainly want to establish yourself as a credible authority. Just be sure to speak in layman’s terms, not yours. Small talk can be a big deal on social media.
4. Address others by name
Whether you have space limitations or not, heed what Dale Carnegie wrote in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Don’t cut characters at the expense of the sound your fans, followers, and friends want to hear. Cut somewhere else. Names are that important.
5. Share content in real time
Most of us schedule at least some of our posts in advance using automation tools. That’s how we maintain a consistent, ongoing presence across the social landscape. But planned content shouldn’t make up the majority of your stream. The more extemporaneous you can be, the more props you will earn for your timeliness and authenticity.
6. Show and tell
As a copywriter, I hate to admit this, but even the best written content can’t always capture the right tone of voice. Personality, mood, context — none of that’s easy to get across in words alone. Pictures of whatever you’re doing, wherever you are, are more realistic, intimate, and explanatory. Video is even better.
7. Have a sense of humor
As I wrote last month on ClickZ, no brand wants to be perceived as uptight, old-fashioned, and out of touch. Yet far too many of them remain reluctant to share anything more than everyday news with their followers, never mind a chuckle. Remember, laughter is the best medicine for a lot of things, including a business that’s stuck in a rut on social media.
8. Help others
You may think it’s old-fashioned, but don’t forget the golden rule. There’s a lot to be said for doing good. Give someone your attention and you’ll get theirs in return. Provide them with your assistance and they’ll be grateful forever. Don’t just share your own valuable content, either. Share others’ as well. This will be taken as a sincere form of flattery and go a long way toward showing them you’re genuinely paying attention as opposed to simply automating your feed.
9. Listen and learn
Not everyone realizes you don’t have to say a thing on social media to reap some of the benefits of it. You can’t empathize with your constituents if you don’t understand them. Monitor what people are saying about you and your brand. Keep an ear to the ground and take feedback seriously. Hang on the words of others and you’ll learn a ton. Respond in kind to them and not only will they put you on their radar, they’ll be thankful for the attention and likely reciprocate.
10. Admit mistakes
When all is said and done, don’t forget that to err is human. Not that you want to make any mistakes. Of course not. But if they’re honest, harmless blunders and goofs, you shouldn’t have to lose any sleep about them. Spelling, punctuation, good grammar, and accuracy are of utmost importance. There are no excuses for inattention to detail. But if you drop the ball rarely, not regularly, most people will be quick to forgive you if they even notice at all.