The following was previously published in an earlier edition of Marketing Insider.
Too often, marketers undervalue the power of genuine connections, instead emphasizing straightforward ROI and stats they can cite. Sometimes brands forget that they’re dealing with—or rather, speaking to—real people living their everyday lives. People use social media for more than just keeping up with breaking news and product announcements. They also use it to watch the latest dance challenge or for recipes and travel tips.
People trust people, not corporate statements.
You could of course say, "Well, we're a brand, so we need to talk about our products and/or services." Yes, but I cannot emphasize this point enough: Your social media communications should not be about your products or services themselves, but rather about how they make people feel or how they have impacted users' lives.
Embrace your human side—talk, sound and behave like a real person. Only then can a brand hope to cultivate genuine brand love, which is of course the be-all, end-all.
Be a good listener: Scratch that. Be an active listener. Get to know your audience by listening to everything from their wants to their needs, as well as their interests, their likes and everything they don't like, too.
Listening is essential for effective social media engagement. Social isn’t a broadcast channel—it’s a way to facilitate conversations with the people you want to appeal to most.
Listening on social media takes dedication and expertise. For instance, if you want your brand to be part of conversations on TikTok, you will need a daily proactive listening plan in order to train the algorithm to start serving you relevant content. Also, you have to act fast on joining conversations—they won’t be there tomorrow!
Emotions, emotions, emotions! They’re what make us human, after all. Effective social media storytelling typically employs themes and emotions that have been popular for time immemorial because they resonate with the human experience and are universally appealing to audiences. Which is to say that our experiences and the emotions they evoke are feelings that others can understand and sympathize with, because they have had comparable experiences themselves.
Tap into cultural moments and have fun. Use cultural moments, first, to entertain and intrigue. But demonstrating your brand's personality while connecting with these moments is essential if you want your content to resonate with your audience(s). This is especially effective on TikTok, where you must spotlight the human side of your brand to be memorable. Trigger a response—excitement, joy, whatever it may be—and users will respond in kind via views and high levels of engagement.
Take the conversation offline. This last one may feel like a bit of a paradox, but in order to connect with your audiences on social media, you should also take steps to inspire offline conversations—the kind of conversations that spread via word of mouth. When something inspires us, we want to spread the word, and savvy brands will try to tap into that energy.