Prepare to discover easy-to-implement, psychology-based strategies that will build you powerful connections within your social media communities.
Most articles about social media begin by telling you how important it is to be using social media.
But if you’re reading this article right now, it’s probably because you already know that.
You are reading because you want to improve your efforts in social media.
The problem, however, is that too many people seek to improve their efforts by leaning towards automation. In most business practices, this is a great solution.
Automate a process, and you suddenly have less work to do and more time to invest in another area of your business.
So why is that a problem in the realm of social media? Because you can’t automate relationships.
And that’s what social media is actually about. Relationships.
Let’s face it: no one wants to hang out with a robot, even online.
Unless you’re Fry from Futurama.
In truth, the best social media accounts out there use some automation. But to be truly effective, you need to strike a balance between automation and being a real, conversational human.
In fact, this is something that we often discuss behind the scenes here at Warfare Plugins.
- How can we help people to see that we’re not some big corporate entity?
- How do we help folks to see us as three human individuals with hopes and dreams and fears? How can we connect on that level?
The tips in this article have two primary focuses:
- Eliminating the forms of automation that will harm your credibility and reduce your rapport with your online community.
- Increasing genuine conversations that work to convert followers to friends.
These tips are incredibly simple to implement, yet they’re packed with psychological power. Implementing them will take some effort, but they will help you to portray yourself as a genuinely friendly person online.
So without further ado, let’s start humanizing your online presence.
1. Show Your Funny Side
Why do people go to social media? For most, it’s because they want to be entertained. This is great because if you can entertain, you can connect. So make your social media funny.
As long as the humor is not targeting any potential clients or people in general, you can get quite a bit of engagement with a funny video, meme, picture or comment.
How can you use humor effectively?
Don’t be too serious
First, make sure you never take your brand too seriously. Yes, you’re proud of your brand and want people to know how great you are, but serious content is boring.
Taking yourself too seriously will drive away your followers. Let your personality shine by being willing to poke a little fun at your product, service or brand, all in a positive way that doesn’t detract from your overall goals.
Stay relevant to your brand
Second, make sure any humor is related to your brand.
Do you sell donuts? Then donut-related humor is great, but car-related humor doesn’t fit.
While you might love that joke about your favorite celebrity, if it’s not connected to donuts, you’ll just confuse your audience.
Keep it clean
Finally, make sure the humor is clean and kind. The last thing you want to do is offend or ostracize anyone who could be a potential customer.
You never quite know who your potentials are, so keep it clean and kid-friendly.
2. Ask QuestionsMake friends on #SocialMedia by asking questions, finding commonalities & having conversations.Click To Tweet
The art of asking good questions is simultaneously one of the most simple skills to implement and one of the most powerful when used.
Questions build rapport
These demonstrate to others that you care about them and respect what they have to say. As John Maxwell quipped,
Image via VisualQuot.es.
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Show someone that you’re listening and that you care about them, and they will quickly convert from a follower to a friend.
Questions demonstrate active listening
Asking questions, also known as probing, is a part of the active listening process. Probing allows you to draw deeper and more meaningful information from people.
And it goes without saying that the more you know about your customer, the better.
Questions connect you with individuals
They allow you to connect with someone as an individual rather than only viewing social media connections as a collection of followers.
We’ll discuss this concept in more depth when we get to mind-hack number seven.
Questions compel answers
When asked a question, there’s a trigger in our brain that compels us to answer. There’s a sense of incompleteness until we do.
You might think of questions as a simple and friendly mind hack that can be used to draw people into a conversation. And conversations pave the road to friendships.
3. Have a Conversation
When interacting with people on your social media channels, remember that you’re interacting with people. This means you need to have a conversation with them, and that conversation needs to be a two-way street.
How can you have conversations on social media? Here are some strategies:
- Retweet and share things from your potential customer base.
- Answer questions and concerns promptly.
- Respond to comments when you can.
- Answer complaints; don’t ignore them.
- Engage within 24hrs whenever possible.
By following these guidelines, you will increase your engagement and create relationships with the people who follow your pages. This instantly makes your pages, and your brand, feel more human.
4. Stop saying have a nice day
At face value, wishing for someone to have a nice day is certainly a kind sentiment. But the evolution of the phrase’s meaning (primarily in American culture), has left it devoid of any meaning other than goodbye.
In fact, many people even view the use of this phrase as being impersonal or demonstrating a lack of genuine interest.
So when you reach out to someone to thank them for something like a retweet, don’t say things like, “Thanks for that retweet. I hope you have a nice day!”
At best, you’ve just said to that person, “Thanks… Now goodbye!”
At worst, you may have come across as uncaring.
Instead, add a friendly question after your gratitude.
As mentioned above, questions communicate the opposite of goodbye. They invite the person into a conversation. Here’s a simple example to get you started:
Bad: “Thanks for the retweet. Have a nice day!”
Good: Thanks for the retweet! We sure do appreciate it. How’s your day going so far? You have anything exciting going on?
The resulting conversation will serve as a far more meaningful expression of your gratitude than the simple words, “Thank you. Have a nice day.”
5. Authentic Gratitude vs. Inauthentic
Gratitude is a recognition that good things come from outside of ourselves. It’s not simply something that you say; it’s something that you feel and experience.
It’s common for us to focus on what we lack. But when you express gratitude, you are doing three things.
- You’re pausing to focus on something good that is in your life.
- You recognize that that good thing came from outside of yourself. It came from another person.
- You’re showing that person how their kindness along with those realizations make you feel.
Genuine gratitude is a powerful catalyst to forming meaningful relationships with people both online and offline.
Gratitude is not a tactic or strategy.
Often retail employees are required to use specific phrases throughout a sales transaction. “Thank you for shopping at Walmart,” you might hear.
But since they are required to say it and in many cases don’t even care, critics argue that these are hollow, meaningless expressions. Instead, you might classify it as ingratitude or most likely faux-gratitude.
Ingratitude is the opposite of gratitude. It’s the refusal to recognize the good that others have done for you, and it erodes relationships. In many cases, it can be very hurtful to the ones who were the ones showing you a kindness.
“Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend, More hideous when thou show’st thee in a child than the sea-monster! …How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.” – Shakespeare
Faux gratitude is a term I created for the purpose of this post. It refers to expressions of gratitude made by people who are not actually grateful.
It has become commonplace on Twitter for people to use apps that automatically thank users for various actions like following them, tweeting something, or being a “top engager” in their community.
Since the expression is automated by a computer program and the user has no conscious knowledge of the thank you being sent or of the kindness that they did to deserve the thank you, it is an inauthentic expression.
Cliched or Meaningless Gratitude
Before telling someone “thank you,” ask yourself if you would express this kind of gratitude in real life. If not, you should probably rethink your approach to it.
Would you thank someone for “engaging” with you if you were speaking to them in real life?
Should I thank my wife for being my top engager in the small farming community where I live?
These types of faux-gratitude are easily recognizable by the members of your social media communities. And when they see it, you instantly lose credibility with them.
Find ways to express genuine gratitude without automation or meaningless gestures; this is how you build an army of friends online.
Immediately disable all social media autoresponders if you want your brand to feel humanized. Eliminate:
- Automated direct messages
- automated tweets (such as: “Thanks for being a top engager” and “Thanks for following”)
People who are social media savvy are hugely disappointed when they receive these.
6. Sign Your Name
Is there a name behind your company? Does your social media manager have a name?
Use a name, a person’s name, to sign your posts. Then, consider responding to customer comments with a person’s profile, not your business profile, if appropriate. Nothing is quite as effective at humanizing your social media as the presence of an actual human!
Signing your name is simple, too. At the end of your post, simply put ~John (or whatever name you are using) so people start connecting a name with your brand. With just a few keystrokes, you can quickly add a personality to your pages.
7. Have Your Own Voice
People have personalities. Think about your closest friends and their social media pages.
Using everyday language is important, but even with that, it’s also important to take the time to develop your brand’s personality and voice.
To do this, you need to understand the voice of your fans and find one that matches. Then, you need to consistently use that voice throughout your posts.
Some questions to ask yourself are:
- Are you going to be eloquent when talking about something, or use short, direct statements?
- Is your tone going to be authoritative, or do you seek to entertain and motivate?
Keeping your voice consistent will not only make you appear more human, but it will also protect you from confusing your audience.
8. Create a Character
If you’re still struggling with humanizing your social media and finding a voice that works, consider turning your brand into a character.
Think of any brand that has a mascot, like McDonald’s and Ronald McDonald, and you can see how well this can work.
While your brand may not be appropriate for a yellow-clad clown or another mascot, you can create a mental character who takes control over your brand.
Consider visualizing who the character is and what their personality is like, then try to think like them when interacting and posting on social media. Make sure the persona you create matches your brand, so the tone you bring out will also match your branding goals.
9. Show Behind the Scenes
Use social media to post pictures from behind-the-scenes operations of your group.
From photos of the staff having fun around the office to photos of what your company’s working on, this will add that human touch to the page.
Keep the photos simple, fun and engaging, and avoid the temptation to polish them and make them super professional. Snaps from your Instagram feed, mobile uploads to Facebook and other simple images of your behind the scenes will go far to make your brand feel more human.
10. Use Their Names
“I’ve seen competent leaders who stood in front of a platoon and saw it as a platoon. But I’ve seen great leaders who stood in front of a platoon and saw it as 44 individuals, each of whom had his hopes, each of whom had his aspirations, each of whom wanted to live, each of whom wanted to do good.” – General Norman Schwarzkopf
When responding to your customers on your social media pages, you need to see them as real people. And when you speak to real people, you use their names.
Names are powerful, as Dale Carnegie reminds marketers in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People. Carnegie says,
Image via VisualQuot.es.
“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
You may be thinking that you don’t have the character count to add a name every time you retweet something or thank a fan. You do! This is what your fans want to read and hear, so find another place where you can cut characters.
11. Give Your Fans What They Need
Finally, you can make your brand seem more approachable and human if you give your fans what they need.
Can you post articles and status updates that reach your customer’s pain points?
If so, then do it! This will help fans to view you as a trusted resource that’s ready to meet their needs, both in regards to your product or service and in regards to their daily living needs.
Being Human Means Being Successful
Remember, your ultimate goal with social media is to build relationships and turn those relationships into paying customers.
This all starts with making your presence feel human.
Use these ten hacks to get started, and watch as your success multiplies!
Which one of these tips are you going to implement today? Let us know in the comments below.