If you’re online for business, you’ve likely been told to engage and be human. But what does that look like? And can you do it wrong?
Yes, you can but it’s also easy to avoid these common mistakes.
1. Not knowing their audience. Humanizing your brand online is easy if you know who you’re talking to. If you try to be all things to all people, you’ll find connecting and engaging to be a lot harder than it needs to be. Analyze your demographic. Where are they? What platforms are they on and what do they like to do there? Knowing these things can ensure you reach them where they are in a form they’ll enjoy. Speaking of which...
2. Using the wrong media. Young people love video. It’s a preferred form of learning and entertainment. If you want to appeal to a young group, video is a great medium. If you want to appeal to readers, it might not be. Again, knowing your demographic will help you understand their preferred media. If you don’t know, ask. Or create the same content across multiple mediums. (This is an easy way to build your content library too while ensuring everyone can interact with your content their way.)
3. Not sharing enough. Some businesses fail to share themselves and their culture with their audience. Think of it like going to a social event and answering everyone’s inquiries with a “yes” or “no” and nothing more. That becomes boring for those you’re speaking with. The same is true of social media. If you just post articles with no commentary and no tone, your feed becomes very boring.
4. Sharing the wrong things. There are many polarizing topics these days: religion, politics, topics involving Constitutional law and fringe groups. Shoot to provide value and avoid topics that could polarize your audience. The only exception to this is if your business is based on inciting topics.
5. Listing platforms they’re not active on. Ever go to a site where they list their social media icons so you can connect with them on other platforms? When you click on them, you see they haven’t posted there in months, maybe years. If you’re not there on a consistent basis, take them off your website. You can retain the profile but don’t publicize it until you plan on using it consistently. If you publicize it but don’t use it, people will wonder if you’re still in business.
6. Not having a website. Social media is great but you don’t own it. Your preferred platform could be shut off tomorrow or your account could be frozen for no reason. Then try calling that platform to straighten it out. Good luck. You could lose years of content with no warning. Always have an online presence that belongs to you and back the content up regularly on your own or with a service.
7. Having a bad web presence. A bad web page is just as bad as none at all. A bad web page is one that:
○ has spelling errors
○ is difficult to read
○ is not updated with fresh information
○ looks slapped together
○ takes a long time to load
○ pulls content from someone else (that’s plagiarism, by the way)
○ has outdated social media profile icons on it
○ has out-of-date information like your address or
○ is difficult to find the information that is being sought.
8. Not being human enough. Don’t think of social media as a megaphone, it’s a conversation. Yes, you need to post but you also need to listen and respond. Get involved in conversations with people. Be human. Ask them questions and take an interest in them.
If you are trying to become more human on social media and in your branding, you want to avoid these common mistakes. They’re common because they’re easy to do. Businesses are told to share on social media, to post good content. But not all of it is as effective as it could be. Avoid this list and you’ll be well on your way to more meaningful dialogue with your audience.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and WritersWeekly. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.