You’ve probably heard of Dale Carnegie’s classic work, “How To Win Friends and Influence People,” a classic book for life and business written to teach us how to attract people, sell more stuff and be all around, more likable.  No matter what your business, or what you’re selling, chances are, your bottom line desperately needs you, and whoever represents you, to become more likable.  Likable stuff and likable people, makes more money. Likable, gets shared with friends.  When people like what you have to say, they engage, they buy, and best of all-they share our message with their networks.

So, how do you get your brand to be more likable so people will buy your stuff & talk about you?  Your social media presence, when done right, is your brand’s digital voice, and it’s also the first line of response when a customer has had a negative perception or experience with your brand- allowing you to turn that frown upside down and make a bad situation into a likable interaction.

Being a brand on social media is like attending a big internet party with all of your favorite people, but it’s also a useful metaphor to illustrate how we, as brands, can use real life social etiquette in an online way.

If you want your brand to win friends & influence people on social media, here are the key things to implement before your next Facebook post:

Show Up To The Right Party & Look The Part

Do you know who you’re talking to when you post something on social media? Does your content look the part to perform well on the platform you’ve chosen to garner a responsive audience?  Instagram and Facebook are not the same.  We know this, right?  Yet so many marketers and small businesses will take an image that could crush it on Facebook as a sponsored post image that’s targeted to a specific demographic, and slap it up on Instagram so they can say that they “do,” Instagram too.  Just because you can be everywhere, doesn’t mean you should be everywhere.  You don’t attend every party you’re invited to, and you don’t wear a tuxedo to a friend’s backyard luau.

Be conscious of what you’re posting and where you’re posting- is the approach for you content appropriate for the channel you’ve posted it on?  Just as you might research the expected decorum and attire to prepare yourself for an upcoming wedding if you’re new to a culture, make sure you anticipate the ecosystem of platforms you’re posting on.

Case in point- the following image I used on a niche blog post for a site I manage works on the blog itself, and it could work well for the audience on LinkedIn. For the right audience, it could be resized and translate well to followers on Twitter, Facebook & Pinterest.  The image fits the look and feel of what this audience is after, and it also fits within the visual guidelines for best practices on those channels.

That being said, this same image would not work well on Tumblr or Instagram who respond better to animated gifs, videos and more homespun, personalized content.  Simply put, this slick stock image looks fine for the brand’s audience on Facebook, but for Instagram, stock images in all of their bland perfection are a huge turnoff.

For each channel, your content should look the part.  Don’t show up in a business suit to a frat party- know who you’re talking to, and how to participate without looking awkward.

Are You Enchanting People, Or Are You Desperate To Sell?

Conversation is key to winning friends and customers in real life and on social media- but is what you’re saying about your brand adding to the party or simply interrupting?  Conversations cannot be rewarding if you simply give a sales pitch over and over.  A good conversation on social media, just like at a real life party, needs to flow and not be just about you. Going back to our party metaphor- you wouldn’t show up at a party and only talk about yourself- we all sense it’s a very egotistical and unlikable way to engage with people in real life, yet often, this happens on social media.  A healthy approach to marketing on social media would be to combine information about yourself, but also fun references to pop culture, industry news, or the ability to highlight and talk about things other than yourself.

If you feel that a person is following your brand because they want to buy from you and simply want to hear about what you’re selling, you are rudely mistaken.  People don’t buy products, they buy lifestyles and aspirations.  People are not following you on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook to be sold to.  Just as nobody gets a magazine to get 50 pages of ads, you will find that your desired buyer will tune out (or Facebook’s algorithym will do it for you) if you constantly post unengaging, salesy content.

Along these lines, while people may follow your brand on Facebook because they love your products, if you constantly try to sell them those products, they quickly get disenfranchized with you.  People don’t follow your brand simply to be told what to buy- they want to be convinced that your product affords them a feeling, a lifestyle, an aspiration.

A tactic for success on social media should be a good mix of sales-driven offerings such as new products, sales and company news but paired along with updates that are not so blatantly sales focused like storytelling, fun pictures and sometimes, straight up click-bait distractions.

Kate Spade has plenty of eye catching products to highlight, which they do in creative ways- but their Facebook page is also filled with fun, inspirational images that will aren’t for sales but simply to enchant followers and get them to click “like.”  While products are a highlight, their sales are always keyed into the aspirational lifestyle brand they’ve built up and are only part of a mix of content.

All posts highlight the business with consistent branding on their imagery and social voice, but they don’t hit you over the head with an ask to buy- you always know it’s Kate Spade and you aren’t annoyed by a sales pitch.

[Kate Spade Social Media]

Kate Spade isn’t all product shots- they offer branded, content that emits the lifestyle, not the sale. It’s geared to enchant.

Are You Just Talking, Or Are You Listening?

One of my biggest gripes with brands on social media is that they simply talk, and never listen.  It’s push, push, push- and often brands make a serious misstep in focusing  on quantity, not quality.

Listening, true listening has two prongs:  First, you should incorporate customer feedback into the talking points and content messaging. If customers liked, commented or responded better to one type of ad, take that data and create more content that follows a winning formula (which surprisingly, many brands are so bogged down in the pressure to push content on all channels so frequently that they rarely get around to monthly strategizing).  Take feedback and pivot, you have to listen or you’re wasting your time and resources.

Second, listening involves real time responses to customer care issues and user feedback.  If you were to look at some of your competitor’s Facebook pages or Twitter feeds- are they simply pushing their own content, or are they taking time to reply to comments left on their latest posts?  Often, I have seen brand pages that push their latest blog post, or a picture of a brand new product, only to leave potential buyers hearing crickets when they post a question or voice a complaint.

If your customers are talking to you, TALK BACK.  Otherwise, it’s the party equivalent of getting into a good conversation with someone, only to stop talking completely when they respond to you- which is just as weird in social as it is in real life.  When people talk to you at the party that is your social media posts, don’t simply turn around and stop talking, engage.  Get a dedicated community manager or team member to respond, in real-time to customer questions, feedback and complaints.

Social media, when done right and your marketing is built around the social part that it’s intended for, can be a powerful way to converse with customers without interrupting their user experience, and enchant them to engage with your brand even further.  Since none of us want to truly be marketed to, the art of social media is to simply talk with people and get them talking- the marketing, when social is at its core, comes naturally…not the other way around.

So, the next time you post on Facebook- make sure that your approach your marketing the way you approach a party, and get people to really like you on social media by treating it like a personalized, social gathering, not a sales pitch.