Social media is in many ways similar to an office lounge. But in the place of co-workers, you have an audience willing to build a relationship with you.
Lounge spaces in the office not only encourage social interaction and a sense of community between workers but also increases productivity and drive excitement amongst employees in completing tasks.
Similarly, social media triggers that communal trust between businesses and their audiences. Where there is trust, there is a loyal following, and if done right, increased engagement.
The problem businesses have with their social media is weak personalization
One of the main causes of low engagement is the lack of personalized content. Like any form of content, content created for social media platforms should be relatable to the audience for which it is targeted, else it’ll be received poorly.
Personalized content involves gathering user data and insights and implementing them to create content that matches their interests.
It’s easy enough to gather data, but the problem arises in how. How do you implement user data in a seamless way that ties down your audience’s attention and gains their trust?
1. Start with your brand story.
The first thing that a customer perceives when they visit your social media page is brand identity. A good brand instantly makes the customer aware of the kind of values that the brand represents, and what personality the brand embraces.
This is what determines the next actions they take, whether it’s a following, a comment, an inquiry, or simply spending more time on the page to learn more about your brand.
Having a weak brand identity makes the customer try too hard to figure out what the brand is really about. That can scare off leads and make potential customers abandon your page.
Babel is a brand that shows great brand consistency. The consistency of visual representation runs through the entire page. The playful, witty tone they take on never falters. This makes the audience expect a particular pattern, and soon they become used to that pattern.
Consistency gives a strong voice to your brand, which reflects better on your page. More than a thousand social media pages exist on the web, and only a strong brand story can leave a mark on the minds of existing customers and visitors alike. You can learn how to effectively tell your brand story here.
2. Bring customers into the spotlight.
According to Stackla, 60% of consumers say that user-generated content is the most authentic form of content. UGC has a higher chance of influencing purchasing decisions.
Yet, many businesses make the mistake of focusing solely on themselves, their products, and what they have to offer, but leave their audiences out of the equation. Nothing builds customer trust like seeing the content of customers who can vet what you’ve been telling them to believe.
If you’re selling a product or service, testimonials and social proof from people who have benefited from it does a lot to convince new audiences that you’re the real deal.
Sharing testimonials encourage more customers to share their own stories and equally makes others trust that what you’re selling is as authentic as you say it is.
Piggybank, a brand that encourages people to develop a saving habit, go as far as featuring customers once a month to share their journey with others who might have difficulty achieving the same results.
This kind of customer involvement shows that you care about your customers. It makes them prepped up to comment, like, and share among friends.
Instead of focusing solely on what you have to say, focus on what your audience is saying by bringing them into the spotlight. It’s brilliant because this way, you promote your brand through your audience and make them feel heard. It’s a win-win situation.
3. Embrace a pop culture
Social media is arguably the heart of popular culture. We live in a digital age where culture has been deeply ingrained in social media, and information spreads faster than wildfire by the share of a button.
With hashtags, you can research what’s trending at the moment and infuse that into your content.
African Fintech, Piggyvest once asked their users on social media, what house they belonged to, referring to the popular HBO series, Game of Thrones.
It’s a brilliant way to reach new audiences since such content triggers sharing and reposting. It also tells audiences that you’re up-to-the-minute.
4. Strive to educate
You might be hanging out in a lounge but you’re still at the office. As much as content that entertains is vital to your page, educational content positions your brand as an authority. It reassures people that you know what you’re doing and you have something unique to offer, which can’t be found anywhere else.
But while cooking up this kind of content, make sure that it still maintains your brand tone and replicates your brand identity. Infuse sarcasm, wordplay, and other little tricks to make content that seems a bit dull become interesting and engaging.
Videos do well to animate topics that can be regarded as less interesting. Live videos are also a way of talking about various topics while still maintaining a laid-back feel.
5. Develop a listening ear
Nina Malkin says ‘The best listeners listen between the lines.’ Lucky for you, customers speak all the time.
Whether through comments, mentions, or direct messages, it’s important to address customer’s pain points and offer solutions (your product or service) to them.
Some platforms like Instagram and Twitter have features where you can create polls and quizzes, asking customers about preferences or pain points. You can use the data to improve user satisfaction.
Having conversations with audiences by replying to comments, scheduling live sessions can be a way to interact with audiences and listen to what they have to say.
6. Be honest about your vulnerability
If you’re going to gain the trust of your audience, you need to be honest with them, and your vulnerability is not an exception. Your audience should know that they are real people behind the working of your brand, people with emotions, people with vulnerabilities.
Often being vulnerable is seen as a sign of weakness and incompetence. But the opposite is the case. It takes courage as a brand to express your vulnerability sincerely to your audience.
Nowadays, customers are tired of the strict buyer-seller framework that presents an unmoving chasm. It’s now more of a personal relationship between brands and their audience, in which both strengths and weaknesses are celebrated.
It takes courage as a brand to express your vulnerability sincerely to your audience.
An example is the 2009 Domino’s ‘We’re sorry for sucking’ campaign.
Domino’s was honest enough to apologize for the bad ‘cardboard tasting’ pizza they had been delivering for a while. They were open about it, instead of trying to shove the criticism aside. Audiences saw their genuine efforts and the campaign was well-received.
Domino’s Pizza 2009 Turnaround
Your honesty goes a long way to build trust, and trigger engagement amongst a relationship-craving crowd.
7. Show us what goes on ‘behind the scenes
There’s hardly any time to converse during office hours save the occasional quips about the new guy. It’s during breaks at the lounge co-workers get to talk about their weekend plans, birthdays, possible promotions, amongst other topics that happen out of the workplace.
The same goes for social media. You need to start casual conversations with your audience by showing them what happens behind the scenes. What a typical day at the company is like, what happens every last Friday of the month, who’s celebrating a birthday, who’s joining the team, and who’s leaving it. They will care to know because they want to have a sense of the human side of the company and the people behind the brand.
HubSpot makes it a habit of sharing pictures and videos of the office space, and the team. It’s the perfect strategy for engaging your audience.
This works with small businesses as well as bigger brands in the industry. The idea is to involve your audience as part of the brand’s process — the larger picture.
8. Speak up about social issues
Another way to build trust is to voice out your opinions about social matters. Businesses over the years have avoided speaking out about social issues and taking strong political stances because they’re often controversial.
Taking a political stance can sometimes hurt your brand because half of your audience might agree with you and the other half might not. That can lead to you losing half of your clients, which undoubtedly is bad for business.
However, 86% of consumers believe that companies should take a stand concerning social issues. Being neutral about these situations can be perceived by the audience as being apathetic to social injustice (as the case may be).
Be part of the conversation so long as you are being honest about your opinions and not faking interest just to gain attention.
9. Be Social
It is called social media for a reason. Don’t be afraid to talk about causal things like everyday hurdles and small wins.
Not every content must be carefully calculated to make a sale. This type of content gives a sense of the everyday man that is both approachable and easy to relate to.
Having these casual agenda-free contents is part of the larger picture that will reassure their trust in your brand, increase engagement and ultimately lead to increased sales.
10. Have fun with your audience
From quizzes to challenges, to satirical videos, make sure there’s an air of liveliness and fun to your content. A lounge is a place to unlax. Bear that in mind whenever you put content out there.
Building trust is a process that involves several stages.
In a poll presented by Invesp, consumers say the most important attribute of a brand is trustworthiness.
It takes time to build trust amongst your audience. But once you begin infusing these tips into your social media content strategy, you’ll be able to win the hearts of your audience in no time.