How to be Authentic on Social Media: Small Business Guide

March 7, 2017

There is no denying that being present on social media is crucial for any business hoping to achieve success. That being said, the competition to be visible and reach target audiences is increasing by the day. People’s news feeds already abound in creative sponsored posts, promo offers, ads, and other types of content from small businesses all over the world.

And they are sick of it.

Majority of people doesn’t want to see ads every time they go online, and they opt for blocking them – an estimated number of 300 million people are blocking ads while browsing on their mobile devices, as announced by PageFair.

At this point, any small business seeking to connect with their potential customers online needs to take into consideration these figures – people want to see something new, something authentic; they are getting tired of the non-stopping parade of self-promotional posts that just don’t speak to them.

The niche you opt for as the predominant one for your business is definitely not something groundbreaking or new, thus there are plenty of people doing the same thing as you. How are you going to separate your business from the crowded pool of look-alikes? By being authentic in addressing your audience, and first and foremost taking into account their interests and preferences. By reading the following tips, we hope to help you differentiate yourself, and create meaningful interactions with your followers.

Try incorporating more authentic photos in your social media posts

The great number of blogs uses stock photos to illustrate the points made in their posts as this is a cost effective solution, requiring no separate funds or effort. While using stock photos in blog posts is an appropriate solution, it would be a great idea to incorporate more personal photos into your social media posts from time to time. As we elaborated in one of our earlier articles on the ways to make great first impressions with your website, people are keen on seeing faces behind the machinery that’s running your business. This allows them to make a more personal connection with you, as opposed to the number of businesses and brands hiding behind their logos.

L’Oreal is doing a great job in humanizing their brand by featuring their employees and telling their stories, as we can see from their USA Instagram account.

They include quotes from their employees saying what they like about their job, or presenting their personal fashion style. In addition to showing they care about their staff, they post pictures featuring their office space, allowing their followers to go “behind the scenes”.

For small businesses, social media channels can also be a great way to tell their personal stories and show how their employees are passionate about what they do and committed to making that business a successful one by sharing photos of their day-to-day activities, company events and important milestones. Let your followers be a part of your success story.

Add a little sprinkle of humor if it suits your brand

You can draw people’s attention to your brand by seasoning your posts with a little bit of humor. There are certain brands that have used the humorous tone of voice as a part of their social media strategy, and that has created certain expectations in their followers. Yet, if funny posts are not something that you were keen on so far, you should be careful when including humor in your social media posts so as to avoid fatal mistakes.

However, if done properly and tastefully, your brand might expand their followers circle and spark engagement, even for brands that are not regarded as funny. To be both funny and authentic, it’s crucial not just to follow trends to gain more visibility, but rather to address something in a humorous way only if you have something new to add.

One instance where even brands that use a serious tone of voice can incorporate humor is when addressing negative feedback. As it is important not to run away from negative comments, addressing them in a funny way can be a win-win situation – you’ve shown you are not afraid to confront criticism, and you are doing it in a funny manner that will probably put a smile on people’s faces.

One of the brands that has done a great job in using humor to deal with negative comments is Wendy’s, a fast food restaurant chain. After being accused for using frozen beef, Wendy’s stepped up their game and launched a series of funny tweets and turned this into a trend.

Another brand that is nailing with its social media strategy is Charmin, toilet paper manufacturer. Most of us don’t tend to discuss on the subject matter of toilet papers, but Charmin has made this topic less awkward by crafting posts on these touchy yet everyday situations we can all relate to.

When tweeting about current trends or events, Charmin does it in the unique and authentic way that aligns with their brand’s voice.

It doesn’t matter if you are not a big brand name, you can still use humor to differentiate your small business, but only if it aligns with your values and voice. It can be quite handy if your niche is not something that people are excited about – increase engagement by talking about your business from a humorous perspective.

Create customized content

As 90% of information that is transmitted into our brain is visual, to stand out, your brand needs to create a strong visual identity. In order to build a unique identity for your small business, it is important to have a logo and unique colors that represent your brand. In the same way, you can devise a strategy for creating content that you will customize by using those colors and your logo to stand out and be memorable. There are many types of content that you can make – from quotes and tips to small graphics, infographics and videos. Find a topic that is suitable for your niche and create a series of content around that topic. Your posts will stand out from the pool of stock images we are all familiar with, and soon people will recognize posts from your brand immediately.

Our social media marketing strategy here at Growato includes creating branded tips and quotes by incorporating our logo and brand colors. There are a great number of online tools you can use to create visual content, and the one we prefer to use because of its simplicity and the great number of available options is Canva.

The volume of content is not the key – the emotions it evokes is what matters

Trying to post too many things every day can backfire – many people will be tempted to unfollow you. Imagine you are trying to relax at home and the same person is yelling every few minutes – “Look at this! Look at this!” You would probably get sick of it quickly. Seeing tons of posts every few minutes from your business will not create a positive image in your followers’ minds – they will get annoyed. Instead, try to determine when your followers are most active and post then – and don’t exaggerate. Make sure the content you post is of value, and the type of content that will evoke emotions, inspire people and spark engagement. However, another point has to be made here – don’t share what everybody else is sharing, but rather something original. If you do share something that has been shared many times, do that only if you have another point of view to present.

If we take a look at how often big brand names such as Red Bull post on their social media, it’s not that often. Yet, the content they share is inspirational, presenting people doing extraordinary things. There is no need to constantly shout “Look at me!” but rather to make every post count and present something new.

However creative, being original on social media can be a difficult job, and it takes time to build your online authority. Yet, if you keep pushing new stuff out there and keep exploring your team’s creativity, your followers will appreciate that you are trying to do something in a different way.

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