Be human: crucial for effective social media interactions

With the constant changes and upsets happening in social media land many of you could be thinking of turning your back on it all and finding a new way to reach your community. But all is not lost, there are still opportunities and advantages to using different social media channels, we just have to rethink our approach to it all.

Remembering to be human may come as a surprise to some, but it’s worth remembering social media channels have given everyone a voice, the clue is in the word used. But it became more relevant since Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced changes to the algorithm the company was using.

On January 11 Zuckerberg said: “I’m changing the goal… from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”

Zuckerberg was concerned that there were fewer ‘meaningful interactions’ between our friends and family and too much content from marketers and he was keen to redefine this. Which has meant that since January we’ve seen fewer posts from brands and organisations, more updates from friends and family and more sponsored ads from companies keen to keep their voices heard.

But what is a meaningful interaction? According to Facebook’s Journalism Project these are what constitute a meaningful interaction:

  1. a person commenting on or liking another person’s photo or status update
  2. a person reacting to a post from a publisher shared by a friend
  3. multiple people replying to each other’s comments on videos watched or articles read in the news feed
  4. a person sharing a link over Messenger to start a conversation with a group of friends

In addition there were a number of other criteria the algorithm would consider:

  1. long comments would be better than short comments
  2. video will get less watch time
  3. links to external pages will get less visibility
  4. the algorithm targets content everywhere – personal posts, groups, events

And while this is only happening on Facebook, it will over time be introduced to all other products Facebook own, such as Instagram and WhatsApp. Notice that the criteria focuses on the interactions and engagement between people, not pages or organisations.

group people in line at sunset

Are you engaging with your readers or just talking to them?

So the question to ask is: are you producing content that generates this type of engagement? Personally for too long my news feed was bombarded with the constant sales-driven posts which led me to hide a number of people I was linked to. In some respects this move was no bad thing as I’ve always believed that it’s been about creating quality content that is relevant, informative and useful to help your customers or the community you serve than just the hard sell of buy, buy, buy my products. The whole ethos of social media that it is social, there’s that word again, and we engage with one another. Too many businesses and organisations use it as though it is a broadcast medium.

The view from the experts is that it is not a numbers game anymore. Speaking at the Social Media Marketing World expo, founder of Social Media Examiner, Mike Stelzner says: “A smaller, more relevant and engaged audience is more valuable than a larger, less engaged one.” It’s making sure you are targeting the right people who match your target audience rather than trying to reach everybody. And it’s about establishing your knowledge and expertise that can build trust among your community.

“If you’re willing to connect with smaller, more relevant audiences, 
you can survive and thrive in this changing world,” he adds.

Brian Solis, digital analyst, anthropologist and futurist, is another who is passionate about people helping people, calling social media the human network. Speaking at the same event, Solis says: “Influence is not about popularity, it’s about building trust. And once you’ve earned trust among your peers this leads to reciprocity.”

How am I adding value should always be at the forefront of your mind when writing any posts. Guy Kawasaki, marketing specialist, author, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist, says: “Always add value to your customer. This earns you the right to promote your product or service every now and then.”

Promoting your products every and now and then, not all the time.

Solis also believes that every message has to be clear and concise. “A well-made Tweet is an art form. To get a retweet means you have to make a connection. It has to talk to and through someone. To stand out from the crowd we must quietly say only what is important. Briefly and with care.

“Make it the one post that converts and is remembered. This is how you get heard.”

How many of you can say your posts, using whatever social channel, do that? How are you serving the community you are engaging with?

So what can you do? Remember who your target customer is and talk to them as a human being. Offer up your expertise and knowledge, without expecting anything in return. If you read something that interests and inspires you comment on the post (the longer the text the better) and treat others how you would like to be treated. Share your insights and see where it leads you.

I’ll leave the last words to Brian Solis:




I had a virtual ticket to this year’s Social Media Marketing Expo that takes place in San Diego each year. Over future weeks I’ll be providing information across a broad section of topics, looking at different social media channels as well as blogging, podcasting and content marketing.


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Filed under Blogging, Communication

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