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In today's marketing world, traditional methods are rapidly fading into the background. Think about it: when was the last time a standard advertisement compelled you to make a purchase? Now contrast that with the influence of a recommendation from a friend or an online influencer.

It’s time for brands to wake up to this reality.

Here’s the core idea: In the era of social media, the old ways of marketing are becoming obsolete.

Imagine you’re trying to sell a new line of eco-friendly water bottles. The traditional approach would be to flood the market with ads, urging people to “Buy Now!” But let’s face it, that aggressive tactic is more likely to turn potential customers away.

Enter Alex Turner, a fictional but illustrative example of modern marketing done right. Alex isn’t your typical marketer blasting out impersonal ads. Instead, he engages with potential customers across various social media platforms, building relationships, understanding their needs, and becoming a part of their daily digital experience.

For instance, if someone in his network posts about looking for eco-friendly products, that’s when Alex shares information about his water bottles – not in an intrusive ad, but in a friendly, helpful response. This approach feels natural, coming from someone within their digital circle, making the suggestion far more compelling.

Social media marketing, as demonstrated by Alex, is all about that personal touch and genuine human connection. It’s not about how many followers you have. On platforms like Facebook, a tiny fraction of followers actually see a business’s posts organically. It’s about meaningful engagement – sparking conversations, understanding your audience, and building real relationships.

Traditional marketing is a monologue, constantly talking at potential customers. Social media, by contrast, is a dialogue. It’s flexible, personal, and true to its name – social. This shift from a broadcast style to an interactive, relationship-focused approach is what marks the end of traditional marketing and the rise of something far more impactful and resonant in today’s digital world.

Stand Out by being human

In the world of social media, standing out is all about being human and fostering genuine engagement. Ever seen “Cast Away” with Tom Hanks and his volleyball friend Wilson? Sometimes, bad social media feels like that – shouting into the void, hoping for a response, any response. But here’s the thing: you’re not alone. People are there; you just need to figure out how to connect with them.

So, how do you make your social media voice stand out and avoid the lonely echo of talking to a volleyball? Here’s the key: Be human and drive engagement.

Start by asking questions. Simple stuff like, “What’s the best thing you’ve bought recently?” or “What’s your favorite emoji?” These might seem trivial, but they’re conversation starters, and that’s what matters. Share interesting facts or tips related to your product. It’s about educating and entertaining simultaneously.

But don’t just drop a post and disappear. Social media is, well, social. Stick around after posting. Engage with the responses, thank people for their comments, and answer their questions. It’s about building a community, not just broadcasting messages.

Go beyond just posting publicly. Utilize direct messages (DMs) to spread the word about your new posts. Consider forming engagement pods with people who genuinely appreciate your content. These groups can help amplify your posts early on, which in turn, can trick social networks’ algorithms into giving your content a wider reach. This is particularly crucial on platforms like Facebook.

And be analytical. Don’t just measure the success of individual posts. Think strategically about which platforms are right for your content. Where does your target demographic hang out online? Focus your efforts there. If your audience isn’t on a platform, you might as well be talking to Wilson.

In summary, making your social media voice heard is about being authentically human and strategically engaged. It’s not just about what you say; it’s about how you interact, respond, and analyze. Do this right, and you’ll be far from stranded on a social media island.

Be a personality.

The digital era has rewritten the rules of branding, and personality is now at the forefront. Take the 2018 rebranding of IHOP to IHOB, focusing on burgers. This bold move sparked a social media frenzy, but it was Wendy’s witty response that stole the show. Their tweet, “Can’t wait to try a burger from the place that decided pancakes were too hard,” perfectly encapsulates how a dash of personality can make a brand stand out.

This brings us to a crucial point: To thrive online, your brand needs a personality.

Social media is a goldmine for expressing your brand’s unique character. You’ve got to be proactive – search for mentions of your brand across platforms, even those where you’re not directly tagged. It’s about understanding the conversation surrounding your brand, and yes, even keeping an eye on your competitors, just like Wendy’s did.

However, not every brand can, or should, emulate Wendy’s cheeky style. Imagine an insurance company trying that – it just wouldn’t fit. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make an impact. The key is creating content that’s fresh, relatable, and tailored to your audience. If your brand is more on the serious side, focus on educating. What do people want to know about your industry? Find a way to deliver that information in an engaging, approachable manner.

Creating an online personality that feels human is crucial for brands. For individuals, like myself during a period of unemployment in 2014, it’s about establishing a personal brand. I used platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat to share my unemployment journey – this personal and authentic content resonated with many and eventually cemented my reputation as a social media expert.

Whether you’re a big burger chain or an individual carving out a niche, the message is clear: Cultivate a unique personality. It’s about being known for being authentically you, which in today’s digital world, is more valuable than ever.

Stop Chasing Vanity Metrics

In the world of social media, it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers game. A million Facebook likes, thousands of retweets, or a spot on Instagram’s Explore page – these are the vanity metrics that many chase. But here’s a reality check: these numbers, especially if bought, don’t necessarily translate into real success.

Let’s cut through the noise: The true measure of success in social media isn’t about how many, but about how much – engagement, that is.

Here’s why vanity metrics, like follower count, are a mirage. They look impressive on paper, sure. They might even make your PowerPoint presentation shine in front of colleagues. But when it comes to genuine brand growth, they fall flat. Why? Because those bought followers – many of whom might be bots – aren’t really engaging with your brand. They’re not interacting with your content or becoming customers.

Instead of chasing these empty numbers, focus on engagement. Cultivate an audience that’s not just large but genuinely interested in what you’re offering.

Enter growth hacking – it’s about using creative, non-traditional strategies to increase engagement, without crossing into dishonest tactics. You’re looking for real interaction, not just passive “likes” or follows.

Consider leveraging Facebook Groups. Create a community for superfans of your product or service. Or try Facebook Watch Parties, a feature that encourages simultaneous viewing, boosting your chances of viral content.

Remember, while metrics are important for tracking progress, focus on the right ones. Engagement trumps follower count every time. Even better is what I like to call “ROE” – Return on Engagement. Ultimately, the goal of all your social media efforts should be to grow your business, and engagement is the key driver of that growth. Forget about vanity metrics; it’s time to focus on what truly matters: real connections, real interactions, and real growth.

You have to be a Storyteller. 

Personalities with a knack for storytelling can be a goldmine for brands, but only if they’re authentic and relatable. Take DJ Khaled’s Jet Ski adventure in 2015, for example. Lost at sea, he turned to Snapchat, not just to seek help, but to tell a story. His engaging, real-time narrative captivated millions, turning each Snap into a viral sensation.

Here’s the key: Social media personalities can boost your brand significantly, but they need to be exceptional storytellers.

Consider Kim Kardashian West. Despite her fame and wealth, she manages to portray a relatable, almost everyday persona online. She shares glimpses of her life, building a connection with her audience. When it comes to promoting a product, she incorporates it naturally into her content, often featuring herself or her family, adding a touch of exclusivity with limited-time offers.

DJ Khaled, too, has become an effective brand ambassador. Whether he’s talking about plant-based milk or tax tools, his endorsements feel more like recommendations from a wildly successful friend rather than a celebrity plug.

But let’s be clear: not all influencers are created equal. Many so-called influencers inflate their followings and engagement, creating a façade that might not translate into real sales for your brand. That’s why I’m cautious about the influencer marketing bandwagon.

Instead, think ambassadors – real people who resonate with your target audience and genuinely understand and value your product. These individuals can become the voice of your brand, speaking directly to your customers in a way that’s both authentic and effective.

And who are these potential ambassadors? They could be closer than you think. In many cases, they might already be part of your team, familiar with your brand’s ethos and products. Leveraging their authenticity and relatability can often yield better results than partnering with high-profile influencers.

Remember, in the world of social media marketing, authenticity and storytelling are king. Align with personalities who can genuinely connect with your audience, and you’ll turn your brand into a story that people want to follow.

Your most powerful advocates are the ones you already have. 

The most authentic and compelling advocates for your brand are closer than you think – they’re your employees and customers. While the appeal of celebrity influencers is undeniable, they may lack a deep, genuine connection with your brand. So, why not turn to those who live and breathe your brand every day?

Here’s a thought: To truly humanize your brand, engage those who are already a part of its story.

Consider a large brand with numerous employees, like a supermarket chain or a café. These businesses have a massive, untapped social media presence through their employees, many of whom are active on platforms daily, even using brand-related hashtags.

The key takeaway? The most powerful advocates for your brand are the people already within your circle – your employees and customers.

How to harness this power? Start an employee advocate program. Encourage your staff to participate and share their brand experiences. Provide them with tools and platforms like Dynamic Signal, Sprinklr, or Bambu by Sprout Social to streamline this process. Give them a framework, but let their authenticity shine through. Monitor their progress and reward the most engaging storytellers with opportunities like taking over your main social media account.

Don’t overlook your customers either. Engage with positive brand mentions, fostering a sense of loyalty and community. Recognize and amplify these genuine endorsements.

This shift doesn’t spell the end for social media professionals; rather, it redefines their role. The trend is moving towards bringing key content creators in-house, emphasizing the value of authentic storytelling. Brands are likely to transition from logo-centric to face-centric representation, focusing on real human connections.

Expect organizational changes too. The role of chief marketing officers is evolving into chief digital officers, further cementing the notion that traditional marketing has run its course. In the future, the faces of real people, not just logos, will be the standard bearers of brands, making every interaction more engaging and genuine.

AI with a touch of human. 

The landscape of technology, particularly in the realm of social media, is evolving at an unprecedented pace. Artificial intelligence is already reshaping how social media managers operate, offering automated tools for a variety of tasks. Facebook Messenger bots, for instance, are just the tip of the iceberg in experimenting with this technology.

Yet, amidst this technological whirlwind, one truth remains steadfast: the power of social media is anchored in the human touch.

Here’s the essence: While technology is revolutionizing everything rapidly, the human element is what truly powers social media.

Social media isn’t going anywhere. Despite challenges like the Cambridge Analytica scandal, platforms like Facebook continue to be pivotal, transformative forces in our society. They’ve changed the way we communicate, connect, and even think.

However, these platforms are constantly evolving. Facebook, for example, continually tweaks its algorithms and features, driven by its profit motives. To excel in this environment, social media experts must be agile, ready to adapt quickly to these changes and turn them into opportunities.

As for other social networks, their relevance ebbs and flows. Snapchat, once a major player, has seen a shift in attention. Meanwhile, emerging platforms like TikTok, Twitch, and even the longstanding Reddit are gaining traction, particularly among younger generations.

Each platform demands its unique content strategy and approach for success. But there’s a universal rule that applies across the board: never forget that people turn to social media for entertainment and connection. Your content needs to resonate with this reality.

In your social media practice, prioritize being as human as possible. Yes, traditional marketing methods may be losing their effectiveness, but your brand doesn’t have to. By humanizing your brand, you ensure that, no matter how the digital landscape shifts, your business remains relevant, relatable, and engaged with its audience. Keep the human element at the forefront, and your brand can thrive in the ever-changing world of social media.


Social media has undeniably revolutionized the landscape of marketing. Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Snapchat have bridged the gap between audiences and brands like never before. However, navigating this landscape as a brand is far from straightforward. Remember, most people use these platforms to connect with friends, not companies. The challenge for businesses is to inject humanity into their brands, making them relatable and engaging in a social setting.

Here’s some actionable advice for any marketer looking to make an impact on social media:

Conduct a Social Media Audit for Your Brand

  • Platform Relevance: Every brand has a place on social media, but not necessarily on every platform. Evaluate where your brand is currently active. Are these platforms frequented by your target audience? If you’re investing resources in a platform that your potential customers don’t use, it’s time to rethink your strategy.
  • Content Analysis: Examine the nature of your content. Are you sparking conversations, providing valuable information, or sharing stories that resonate with your audience? Does your brand’s voice sound personal and human, or does it come across as a faceless corporate entity? The goal is to be more like a person and less like a logo.
  • Engagement Over Broadcasting: Shift the focus from merely broadcasting your message to engaging with your audience. Social media is a two-way street; it’s about interaction, not just promotion.
  • Authenticity and Storytelling: People connect with stories and authenticity. Share content that tells your brand’s story in an honest and engaging way. Make your audience feel like they’re part of your journey.

By tailoring your social media strategy to these principles, your brand can become a vibrant, engaging presence online. It’s not just about being on social media; it’s about being social in a way that resonates with your audience. Remember, at the end of the day, it’s about connecting, not just advertising.

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