Help Me! I’m Trying to Be Human

Developing Meaningful, Engaging Conversations in a Social Media World

We are all sick of hearing it: social media is about engaging people and having meaningful conversations. More often than not, brands struggle to fully understand what that means. Engagement is more than a like, and conversation is more than a comment. Start socializing online more like a human and less like a robot. Try this starter guide on what to stop doing and how to really start engaging.

Stop Yelling at Me

Chintzy attempts at conversation like statistics with no context, gimmicky specials, “buy now” messages or thoughtless fill in the blanks (“Today I am feeling __________.”) are the digital equivalent of yelling at your audience.

Dumping content into your social media bucket isn’t creating a conversation. If this is your current strategy, then you should be aware: you are yelling at me, and I don’t like it.

Too often as brands we try so hard to just get a response that it can appear desperate and disconnected. Moreover, these attempts aren’t doing much for you – even if they do get the occasional like. The value of engagement is based on how well your customers can get to know the human side to your business.

Make Conversation, Not Small Talk

First, you need a strategy beyond “That’s interesting – throw it in the social media bucket!” Second, find your story and share it. Your story is what makes your business human. Very often, it’s what makes you unique, your value proposition. (Ask yourself why someone would support your brand over a competitor’s.)

Define your value proposition, find your story and share it.

Once you’ve defined your direction, other social strategies you’ve seen will start to make more sense. For instance, piping about current events for the sake of it is kind of meaningless if those events don’t pertain to your business or your value proposition.

Say you’re a bakery that sells pies and you know that January 23rd (in 2013) is National Pie Day. Most would think to use this as a gimmick for an offer: “It’s National Pie Day! Get 15% off Pies Today Only!” But you can do better than that.

Instead, create a conversation around it. In the week or weeks leading up to Pie Day, let people know it’s coming, share your own story about why pies are important, encourage your fans to make Pie Day a special memory for their family and tease the sale (just don’t overdo it). Now that your fans have a context for Pie Day, the special offer will be less gimmicky and more heartwarming.

The bigger picture: Don’t simply spout off statistics or current events and attempt to combo them with a buying offer. Engagement happens when you make your audience pause, think and want to respond.

Don’t Forget to Streamline Your Message Offline

Remember that social interaction is merely an extension of your larger marketing strategy. People want to do business with people, not with faceless companies. The same personable qualities that are socially successful will be successful offline too.

Ever seen a company that’s got an exciting social presence but in print or commercials is just buttoned-up and self-aggrandizing? It’s not only disorienting – it’s disheartening.

Keep your value proposition close at heart no matter where your message is appearing. Your customers will love you for it.

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