Social media content has to impact its audience personally, with nuanced information that matters to them. People do not connect with social media that is random, inconsistent or tone-deaf. If you can talk to your audience in a manner they relate to, you’ll have a window onto your customers’ needs even before they’re able to articulate them.

Where those needs intersect with the services or products your business provides, you are not, from their point of view, making a sale: instead, you are addressing a pain point, fulfilling a need, providing a real solution to a real problem.

Know Thy Audience

Make your social media truly engaging, and your followers will tell you who they are and what they want, directly or passively. To the extent that your business model is flexible, you can respond in kind with new or modified products or services or new ways to present them.

Social is nimble. When something isn’t working, you don’t have to wait out a cycle of print material before you change your offer.

Get Personal, Get Creative

Social media is the proper place to show the personal side of your business. There are real people on both sides of the equation. Especially when working with a small business, customers want professionalism and security, but they also want human understanding, shared values and a sense of community. That’s part of what you are building through your social streams. A little personality is the equivalent of the handshake or warm smile they get when they walk through the door of a bricks-and-mortar store or office.

Show them who you are with whimsy, personality and graphics. Show them your employee of the month, your casual Friday, your charitable side. Bring them into the heart of your home office, or behind the scenes into the shipping or production departments. Make it fun for them to follow you. Be you and you will be loved.

Gain Trust Through Truly Personal and Immediate Response

Your public face online must be as courteous and reasonable as it is person. There’s no excuse for a customer to have to sit on proverbial hold waiting for a response. When they ask, you answer. When they comment, you like. If they post negative but constructive criticism, reply with appreciation, understanding, and a promise to address the issue, right there in public. You can always move the conversation to a private message to follow up and have a more in depth discussion.

Remember that everything is public to a point, and you are demonstrating customer care not just to that one person but to everyone in your audience. Show them that you are paying attention, that you care, that their voice matters to you, and you will be heard.