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How to Talk Like a Human on Social Media

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Digital Natives' Amalie Bleackley offers some pointers for engaging your audience the right way

How to Talk Like a Human on Social Media

Do you go on social media to read ads? Didn’t think so. You’re there for connection, inspiration, entertainment and education – content that enriches your life in some way, whether it’s a picture of your friend’s new puppy or a tutorial on Patatas Bravas.

You curate the digital world you want to live in. Unlike a passive observation of a billboard at the station, venturing into the social realm is an emotional, active and interactive pursuit.

The clue’s in the name – social media. Its top use? To keep in touch with friends and family.

Something’s getting lost in translation…

When it comes to organic social, why, then, do so many brands continue to speak in sales spiel only? It’s like going to a dinner party only for the host to spend the evening trying to enlist you in a pyramid scheme – rather than engage you in an exciting conversation, they’ve invaded your downtime.

In 2020, the average user granted 2 hours and 25 minutes of their day to social media. Want a slice of that time pie? You need to talk human. Here are some pointers. 

Would someone actually say it?

It seems so obvious, but it’s a question brands often forget to ask. Your copy might sound smart or pretty, but still, interrogate every line and consider, ‘Would an average human say this?’ If not, you should probably delete it.

As a litmus test, keep a persona in mind when writing. It could be someone real – the visionary behind your company – or imagined – an amalgamation of your brand’s values, identity and your target customer’s traits – this will help guide you.  

Does your content offer value?

Are you serving up content that genuinely adds to a consumer’s day? Even the most beautiful image can’t do all the talking – your copy needs to contextualise and ignite it somehow, inhabiting a voice people enjoy hearing.

Rather than obsess over the end goal – someone buying your product – focus on being interesting and credible. You could approach the crafting of each organic post like a micro-story – it needs a great opening, compelling hook and satisfying ending.

When you deal in genuinely valuable communications, you build a brand people deem worthy of discussion, sharing it with their peers the way they would a brilliant TV show or restaurant. And that’s what drives purchases.

Does it speak to your audience?

By this, we don’t mean simply ticking boxes associated with your demographic – 20-35, female, likes dogs. To hold real appeal, you need to understand your audience on a granular level: how they speak, what they’re currently interested in and how they interact with social media as it evolves.

Social listening is a powerful means of keeping your ear to the ground, gaining insights you wouldn’t otherwise come across. You can find everything from colloquialisms to new trends swirling around your audience’s social channels.

Are you joining in the conversation?

This leads us on to the art of conversation – specifically, brand-consumer conversation.

Good social content is a subtle balancing act between what is conversational and what is promotional. Look at brands with the best organic social, and you’ll find them weighing in on relevant topics thoughtfully – sometimes wittily – while staying true to their voice and values.  

They don’t comment on everything and anything, making it more impactful when they do; their contributions don’t feel salesy or scripted: they feel organic and human. By resisting the urge to jump on every bandwagon, their weigh-ins seem purposeful - and genuinely helpful – rather than cynical bids for attention. And so people actually want to hear from them.

Are you putting faces to the name?

Part of talking like a human is providing concrete points of reference – putting a face to the name. While this doesn’t always have to take the form of a literal person, it’s undeniable that people respond to people.

Brand ambassadors can range from a spokesperson to members of staff. While the latter tends to require a bigger spend, the people who live, breathe and drive your company can be just as persuasive.

From your MD to influencers, enlisting people with experience or insights into your sector amplifies voices consumers trust and value. They’ll also likely bring their own social followings to the table – a nice perk.

Parting words

Commercially, it’s easy to forget about the ‘social’ in social media. Excited by the growth possibilities social offers, many brands’ channels become echo chambers of adspeak.

When you interact with your audience like an actual human – without overdoing it or overstaying your welcome – you humanise your brand; this makes way for meaningful, two-way exchanges – and this is the foundation upon which the strongest brands are built. 

Amalie Bleackley is junior copywriter at Digital Natives

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Digital Natives, Mon, 25 Oct 2021 12:07:07 GMT