Social media must be SOCIAL. I manage to sneak that phrase/idea into most of my blog posts and just general rants about social media. In a society where people are becoming less social in-person, we as social media managers must see that and learn from it. Facebook’s News Feed algorithm changes (like them or not) were based around this ideology. Zuckerberg and crew have seen the effect being social on social media and have decided to move those and posts with more interactions in general higher on the News Feed. While organizations being social on social media with people might not have the same effect as people to people, it is still important. There are three main reasons why:

1. Relate to your followers

People love when organizations sound like people on social media. Whether it’s Wendy’s roasting people (which I also seem to sneak into most of my blog posts), the Cubs responding to people with gifs of their players, or a random organization hopping the new meme trend. Show me an organization who is buttoned up and formal on social media and I’ll show you an organization with a small following (okay, not all the time – obviously there’s a time to be serious, too).

What I’m getting at is that when people can relate to organizations on social media, the organization is viewed in a better light by those people. It’s the same mantra in all of marketing. If you make your product seem relatable, people will favor it. You don’t see the Queen of England driving a Ford F-150 in the commercials. You see regular ol’ Average Joes like you and me. “Hey, I also like to work hard and lug two-by-fours in my truck. Maybe I should look into getting a Ford.” People relating to your organization on social media will lead to them identifying with you and therefore lead to more follows, website visits, and even sales (or whatever your end goal is).

2. Be trusted by your followers

This is the most practical reason to be social on social media. It’s so important to not just get up on a soapbox and shout promotion after promotion, event after event. Social listening is one of the most important aspects of social media. For example, if you sell a product and people mention you on social media about something being wrong with it, reply to them as quickly as possible with a fix. It’s why I constantly monitor our social media during our baseball games. If someone has a cold hot dog, I’m going to do everything in my power to make it right as soon as I can.

What’s equally important is to keep those conversations public if they begin public (obviously don’t take a direct message public). The exception to this is if personal information needs to be shared to fix the problem – then take it into direct messages. If followers see that a problem is being solved quickly and transparently by the organization, they will be more likely to trust you. It’s a blessing and a curse that we can be public about customer service. When handled poorly, followers might develop a negative perspective about your organization. But, when handled how it’s supposed to be, followers can see that you are trying to do everything you can to please them. Building up trust as an organization will, without a doubt, lead to sales.

3. Be discovered

This one is mostly for Instagram, but can also apply to Twitter and Facebook. Within the last couple years, Instagram made a change where verified accounts and accounts you follow who comment on a photo will show up under the photo. Take this photo from LeBron James for example:

In the comments section, there are two comments we can see without expanding all of the comments. These two comments are by “houseofhighlights” and “diddy.” “Houseofhighlights” is an account owned by sports media outlet Bleacher Report. I follow them and they are verified. However, I do not follow “diddy” which is the rapper Diddy’s Instagram account. But, because he is verified, he shows up as the other comment I can see without expanding. Even if your organization is not verified, commenting on posts will still bring attention to you. Users will see your account’s name over and over again and hopefully follow you as a result (or at least click on your username to look at your account). Social listening (browsing hashtags, locations on Instagram, and other search results) will help out greatly when looking for posts with which to engage.

Humanize your organization. It’s as simple as that. If you want people to relate to you, trust you, and discover you, you have to use your organization’s account more like a human uses his/hers and less like a soapbox on which to stand.

Kyle Martin

Kyle is the New Media Engagement and Promotions Manager for the Columbia Fireflies, a Minor League Baseball team affiliated with the New York Mets. Follow him on Twitter @Kyl3Martin.