Brands on social

Today’s marketers are understandably frustrated by how difficult it can be to gain traction on social media. Your company may have spent significant amounts of time and money building up your follower counts, only to have algorithms change, causing your organic reach to plummet. But the main secret to overcoming the limits of organic reach isn’t to outsmart an algorithm, blindly sink money into ads and high-priced influencers, or use bots to be in more places at once.

Instead, the secret to social media success today is to act more like a human and less like a brand. Until you adopt that mindset and incorporate it throughout your social media marketing – including any advertising or collaboration you may want to do with an influencer – you won’t get very far.

Why being human matters

In today’s crowded social media landscape, brands aren’t just competing with other brands; they’re competing with real people. And these real people, like social media users’ friends and celebrities, tend to be a lot more engaging than a brand post that sounds like an ad.

Think about it: if you’re browsing Facebook or Twitter in your personal time, are you there to see what brands are selling, or are you there to see your friends’ pictures, read about pop culture, etc? If you’re not posting something that you would find interesting personally, odds are everyone else will scroll right past your content.

Even on a professional network like LinkedIn, posts about challenges that individuals face at work or examples of great leadership tend to get far more attention than a post about a new product launch. People are on LinkedIn to boost their own careers, not to learn about your company’s offerings.

That’s not to say you can’t be successful as a brand on social media, but you need to showcase the human side, such as sharing behind-the-scenes looks at what it’s like to work at your company, highlighting fun customer stories or even simply communicating with a tone that resembles how people talk conversationally. Doing so helps you stand a better chance of capturing your audience’s attention, as you’re fulfilling the social aspect of social media, which is what drives people to use these networks.

Focus on being entertaining or informative

As you work to adapt your tone to be more human, focus on making your posts either entertaining or informative, not salesy.

For example, with my own company, if I were to just post about the services my agency offers or send out links telling people to buy my book, I wouldn’t get very far. Instead, I share personal struggles about being an entrepreneur, pictures of my travels around the country for work, and advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs and marketers. In turn, that naturally drives people to contact me about my agency’s services, book me as a speaker or buy my book.

This strategy of being either entertaining or informative can work for any type of business. Whether you’re a large consumer-focused company like Wendy’s – a brand that isn’t afraid to write snarky posts about competitors to entertain its audience – or a small B2B brand that can share tips that help your customers perform their jobs better, the opportunities for social media success exist across the board.

Being human also means not getting caught up in vanity metrics like how many followers you have, but instead focusing on the quality of your online interactions. Just as it’s more meaningful to have a few close friendships than dozens of acquaintances, it’s more beneficial to your business to form strong relationships with a few customers online who can then further spread the word about your brand in their own circles, rather than blasting out content to a large audience where no one’s paying attention.

Written by Carlos Gil, author of The End of Marketing