I was reading a reddit thread this morning that discussed cool corporate social media accounts that attempted to be “more human”, and the discussion quickly turned into an exchange of praise for self-aware brand accounts with a great sense of humor – “I follow [brand] purely for laughs”, said one user. One of the commenters talked about the amazing job Merriam-Webster’s been doing with social, but the general consensus was that pages communicating as if created for actual real people (who knew those existed, am I right?) win the game.
Is this the key to attracting and keeping followers? Why people follow brands on social media in the first place? These questions took me on an hours-long journey around the web, and here are some highlights.
First, I got stunned by some statistics. According to Instagram’s COO Marne Levine, 80% of the app’s users voluntarily connect to a business in the form of comments, likes and follows, as per AdWeek. That’s great news, but how do you convert these interested users into actual followers who will continue to interact with your brand?
If you are a woodworking shop and your owner isn’t a Hollywood celebrity and the beloved face of television legend Ron Swanson (yes, I am indeed referring to Offerman Woodshop on Instagram), you might be asking yourself the same question – how do I attract followers and provide value if what I’m essentially doing is being an ad channel? Well, that’s your first mistake – be a news channel, source of information and expertise, an entertainment hub, anything, but ad central!
Focusing on users
The answer we are looking for might be offered by this Harvard Business Review piece on enhancing brand success with user-oriented brand positioning. Turns out, there’s a positive correlation between a brand positioning itself as a useful part of its users’ lives (as opposed to a brand focusing on pre-purchase promotion and sales) and its business success. People show more loyalty to brands that focus on how fulfilling is their customers’ experience rather than on chasing purchase behavior.
This means that creating a community within your online brand presence – answering questions, providing customer support, as well as collecting reviews and feedback will not only help you gain followers but promote post-purchase renewal and advocacy amongst your clients.
Creating a community
Groups serve a plethora of purposes starting with fulfilling a person’s need to belong and connect with peers, seek approval, social acceptance and validation, and more. Brand community is capable of meeting a number of these needs by being a place for users to connect, have meaningful discussions and reinforce each others’ beliefs.
One of the simplest way to accomplish this is reliably responding to your users’ questions. Such behavior establishes trust and provides safety against rejection – by answering each question your users send you, you prove your reliability in your relationship with clients, who can now be confident their query will not be ignored. According to Sprout Social report, almost a quarter of users gets annoyed when brands do not reply to their messages.
Another important element in building a community is its purpose – define why your followers would even need to follow your brand on social media in the first place and what problems you’d be able to solve for them. For example, Crello uses its main Facebook page to share news, updates and tips, while Crello Users group serves as a point of providing more targeted customer support and exclusive brand information.
Once you’ve determined the main purpose of your brand’s page on social media, you can get to developing useful content that serves your purpose and is thus providing value to your visitors.
There are two ways your brand social media page can provide value – be useful or be entertaining, or both. Almost 60% of users follow a brand for promotions, so see if you can provide that for your followers (as per the already cited Sprout Social report). Overall, universally desired information from a brand includes product updates, news and launches, discounts, promo codes, tutorials, expert tips, infographics and reports. Basically – better product for minimum possible price and free expertise.
Over half of users follow a brand to be entertained, so being useful is not your only option. If your area of business allows to create entertaining content or you have the creative and financial resources to produce added entertainment – go for it! Businesses with humbler budgets working in areas unrelated to entertainment can add entertaining touch to their content by talking to followers in a fun, easy-going way. Don’t be shy to crack a joke – just make sure it’s actually funny, as trying to be funny when you are not is fine when you are talking to friends but reads fake and tryhard when you are a brand attempting to attract customers.
Your bad sense of humor might be an unintended faux pas, but using an inauthentic, sales-oriented voice instead of being sincere is a much more serious mistake. No one likes to be duped, and pages that read like an ad are less likely to be followed, compared to ones that feel like they are genuinely trying to be helpful to their visitors.
One of the ways to be genuine in your audience interactions (that’s incidentally quite entertaining) is providing a peek at what’s going on behind the scenes. A little backstage coverage from your offices and events is a great way to show off the amazing people behind your brand, your excellent manufacturing or service standards and curious production facts.
In a nutshell
It’s not just perfectly filtered pictures that get your brand followers on social media – here’s what you can do today to attract and engage users:
- Answer questions,
- Provide relevant and timely information about your product and services,
- Host contests and giveaways, provide promo codes,
- Post tutorials and reviews,
- Strive to be genuinely helpful.
Feel ready to take your brand page to the next level? Learn 10 best practices in designing the perfect Facebook cover photo and explore Crello free Facebook cover templates.