How to emotionally connect with your audience on social media

Okay, so you’re running a ship-shape schedule — you know when, where and how often to post on social media. You’ve reached out to the Twitter or Insta Sphere, to follow a number of accounts and, in return, your followers list is looking healthy enough, too. Plus, you’ve even done your research! Your brain neurons are firing overtime, with social media stats and insider tips. You are so ready to go.

So why isn’t your engagement soaring?

All too often, marketers get swept away in the strategic side of social media and overlook what these platforms are really for: connecting on a human level. It’s called social media for a reason. And just because businesses and brands can now use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Snapchat as marketing tools — and to great effect! — that doesn’t mean the rules of engagement are any different.

Wanna know the secret to a truly disruptive and worthwhile social media approach? It’s all about emotion. With social media marketing, you don’t want to just get inside your customer’s head… you want a place in their heart.

‍Emotional marketing & social media

Know your target audience

No surprises here: if you don’t truly understand your audience, you won’t be able to reach them on an emotional level.

It’s like trying to become best friends with someone you’ve never even talked to… it just won’t work; you won’t have anything to bond with them over.

Ask yourself: who is my target? What motivates them? What do they like and dislike? What are their aspirations in life?

You may find it useful to draw up a pen portrait of your ideal consumer; something you can always come back to, to double-check your tone of voice is still on track.

Having a crystal clear idea of who your target is allows you to define what emotion looks like in your social media strategy.

What do we mean? Well, think about your friendship group — you’ve likely got one friend who loves a good weep at a romcom, one friend who’s got a devilishly dark sense of humor, and perhaps another who is a dreamer, always with their head in the clouds.

Emotion — the feelings we derive from our circumstances — differs from person to person. And, when it comes to social media, it’s evident in the content each individual likes, shares, and even posts themselves.

So what is it like for your user?‍

Your brand’s tone of voice will drive emotional appeal

Once you know who your ideal audience is, and how they see the world, you need to talk to them, using the right strategic tone of voice for your business.

Tone of voice is the character of your brand. It personifies your vision, ethos, and USP. And — as it can be delivered through written and visual forms of communication — it should be inherent in every marketing move you make.

It’s also a fast, effective, and intuitive way of emotionally connecting to your audience; in the same way we bond, human to human.

If you can’t answer right away what your brand’s tone of voice is, you should hold fire and reevaluate. Pushing through a marketing campaign of any size, without knowing your tone of voice, is like trying to write a novel without a protagonist.

Take a look at these social media examples from brands with very strong, and very different, tone of voice; Pop Tarts and Nike.

For Pop Tarts, nothing is taken too seriously; you can tell their sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek tone from their bio. This stance is then taken all the way through the posts they write and the messages they send. They aren’t afraid to joke around, replying in jest to their following… because that’s how they emotionally connect. Through humor and play.

On the other hand, Nike takes things much more solemnly. Their Instagram bio delivers a punch, and an important social message. Just as Pop Tarts achieves, Nike’s tone of voice trickles all the way down through the curated color scheme of their Instagram, to the copy used in each individual upload.

Tone of voice isn’t hard to get your head around, because — when it’s done well — it should be immediately, implicitly, understood.

Here’s a quick quiz: if you were at the helm of these social media accounts for the day, would you use emoticons in their posts? Do emoticons feel right for Pop Tarts? How about for Nike?

Emoticons might be a small detail, but their use in social media copy can have a big impact. They deliver fun, frivolity, and informality to written communication. This would be appropriate for Pop Tart’s tone of voice. Nike: not so much.

So, yes: tone of voice is about the big stuff — your company vision and values, your target audience, your unique place in the market — but it’s also about getting the little things right, too.

Everyday tips for emotional connection online…

Each and every day you’re active on social media, you should be asking yourself the same questions:

  • Why am I posting this?
  • What do I want my audience to take from it, or what do I want them to do in return?
  • How do I want to make them feel?

Remember: social media is for making connections.

Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for engagement. Use your captions to pose questions, encourage chat and debate in your comments, adopt trending hashtags to spread your message even further; is it appropriate for your brand to show support for #EarthHour, for example?

All of these little things amount to a great amount of emotional engagement with your audience.

You can even connect with other businesses in your industry — some of the most entertaining, and emotionally engaging, social media content has come from two or more brands getting together.

Yes, you may have an ambitious marketing strategy for your brand — and we’d hope you do! But, your audience doesn’t want to be exposed to that on social platforms.

Social media is social, because it’s human to human.

You don’t need to play the joker, like Pop Tarts. You don’t need to take a social or political stand, like Nike.

In fact, your way of emotionally connecting with your audience will be different to any other brand. Because it’s about your brand and your audience, no one else.

Sound like a lot to take on? It can be.

But work out how to emotionally connect with your audience on social media, and your marketing mix will be hugely enriched.

And, don’t forget, you can always drop us a line if you want to chat. Our Scribly writers have a wealth of experience in social media, and we are happy to help.