It kills me to call myself average, but I am the average social media user — a 20-something with a thirst for keeping up-to-date with the world, but without the time to do it. I don’t “follow” or “like” a company just because I have bought something from them. I only engage with companies that I benefit from connecting with, and if I don’t see that benefit, I am not afraid to terminate my social media relationship with that company. Here are a few tips on how to be a company people want to connect with.

Use visuals

Text can easily be overlooked as people scroll through their newsfeeds, but even if they want to, they can’t ignore pictures – the brain always registers images. Infographics are the easiest way to use images – either share some or make your own. Coca-Cola does an excellent job at employing visuals – they even use pictures to ask engaging questions:

Keep it short

Twitter got this right – limiting chatty companies, or people in general, was a great idea. I want to be able to scroll quickly through my feeds and not have to expand a post to get the whole story. My suggestion is to get your pitch out in as few words as possible and then link to your website for all the details. This approach assures that people are aware of what you are offering and can choose to learn more.

Write back

Social media is not a one-way street, you need to respond to comments and questions as much as possible. Social media users expect to hear back from everyone they write to and will be disappointed if they don’t. Zoos and aquariums have mastered this. I have asked the Shedd Aquarium a question via Facebook twice and both times I have received a response within a day. The Minnesota Zoo recently posted an update and kept up with all the questions that were left in the comment box. Afterwards, people commented on how much they appreciated and respected the zoo for responding:

Weekly update

I want to be knowledgeable on as much as possible, but I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of information that exists. One of the best things a company can do is sum up what has happened in its field during the week. A great example of this is Mashable.com. Each week they post on Facebook the top social media related stories of the week. This saves me from having to figure out what stories are important for me to read. I would love to see more companies doing this; especially in the fields that are hard to keep up with, such as money and politics. [See Example]

Remember that your posts are for your audience, not for you; try to put yourself in the mindset of the average social media user or your typical consumer and ask what they would want to see. Most of all, remember to be fun, engaging, informative and brief.

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