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Top 5 Reasons People Follow Brands on Social Media

24 Aug 2015

Grow your Social Media Followers by Learning What your Audience Wants.

Guest Blog by: Priyanka Biswas, founder and owner of Social Media with Priyanka

At first glance, it seems rather odd that someone might even want to follow a brand on social media!

I mean, take a look at the behavior of common folks like you and me around us.

The minute we come across an ad on YouTube we skip it. (Unless, of course, you’re the kind of person who loves to watch a 3 minute ad before you get to watch the actual 2 minute video :)).

We detest websites which throw pop up ads at us from all four corners. We literally just wait for the “x” to show up so that we can close it promptly and get to reading what we intended to read in the first place. (Sometimes it doesn’t come up until you’ve watched a considerable portion of the ad, sneaky right? :)).

So why would we be willing to voluntarily follow a brand on social media and have their content show up in our social feeds for free? Something to think about, right?

Especially as a brand, because if we can understand the underlying reasons as to why people chose to digress from what they would normally do, when they chance upon other types of branded content (ads and the likes), it would make the process of gathering (and eventually retaining) those followers on social media, a much simpler process.

So without further adieu, let’s get into the specifics.

I dug up these stats from a recent survey conducted by BuzzStream and Fractl where they questioned more than 900 people to better understand why they follow brands on social media. Here are the top 5 answers from the survey.

Let’s explore at them one by one.

1. They “like” the brand

The topmost reason why people chose to follow brands on social media? Because they like them.

Now you’re thinking, really, thats it? Of course people like to follow stuff they really “like”!

On the contrary, spend some time thinking about the word “like”. It is very relative. Because “like” can mean different things to different people, right?

So what does it actually mean, then? How do you make your brand more likeable?

Here is my answer.

Tim Sanders, business guru and author of the book, The Likeability Factor, says that a person’s likeability can be determined based on these 4 factors.

  1. Friendliness – The ability to communicate liking and openness to others.
  2. RelevanceThe capacity to connect with others’ interests, wants, and needs.
  3. EmpathyThe ability to recognize, acknowledge, and experience other people’s feelings.
  4. RealnessThe ability to be authentic.

Let’s extend these factors to try and boost the likeability factor for a brand. Here is how I would broaden the definitions to make a brand more likeable.

1. FriendlinessThe ability to communicate liking and openness to your followers (current and target audience) with a human voice – also known as humanizing your brand.

The very first step towards becoming likeable? Be human and talk to your audience just like you would with a friend. Which translates to – don’t always try to sell your products/services on social.

Consider this. You don’t walk into your friend’s party and greet people by saying,

“Hey, you have only 30 minutes to buy my video or you lose out on the huge discount!”

Obviously, not very friendly right? Drawing the analogy between your friend’s party and your brand’s social space – what you wouldn’t do at the party, you don’t want to do on social. You can’t build a relationship that way.

2. Relevance – The ability to provide practical value to your audience.

People like things when they bring value to their lives and consequently to the lives of those around them. If your brand shares information your audience can use and pass it on to their loved ones, they are going to find you more likeable.

3. Empathy – The ability to connect with your audience emotionally, and intimately.

Emotions play a huge part in determining a brand’s/branded content’s likeability factor. People like to buy and use products which make them feel good (positive and aspirational) about themselves – an image they also want to portray to the world around them.

If your brand/branded content is able to strike your audience’s emotional chord (particularly the positive one), people will find you more likeable.

4. Realness – Pretty much translates to the same thing in a brand. People don’t like fakes, they like those who are real. The same logic applies when they want to connect with a brand.

People will find your brand more likeable if you remain honest and authentic.

Therefore, there would be nothing wrong if you shared anecdotes of your life on social media from time to time. For example, it would be absolutely okay to share some snapshots of your favorite travel destination or that delectable meal you recently ate at your favorite restaurant or even photos of your pet.

2. To be notified of special offers and promos

The very next reason? So that they don’t miss out on special offers and promotions.

Pretty simple and straightforward.

Impress your followers by sharing special offers and promos on your social pages from time to time. Bonus tip – offer the promotion only to your social fans so that it makes them feel exclusive!

A word of caution though. Posting offers and promos frequently can make you look salesy so exercise a certain amount of limit when resorting to such types of posts. Don’t forget that you need to become “likeable” before you can start sharing coupons and discounts on your page.

3. To learn about new products and services

A considerable portion of the people surveyed said that they followed brands on social media to learn about new product and service launches.

Quite understandable.

Considering many of us turn to our social feeds for news related updates. In fact, there are many who actually, probably receive most of their daily intake of news from social media.

So whenever you have a new product/service to launch, make sure you share the piece of info on your social pages and, maybe even, provide a teaser of what they can expect. For example, a short video or image snapshots.

4. To get free stuff

Everyone loves freebies! This is especially true when it comes to following a brand on social media because people expect you to offer free stuff from time to time.

You may ask, why?

I think it is because they have made the effort to like and engage with your social page. They have formed an emotional connection with your brand and they would like to recommend it to their friends and family members.

A free gift is just the boost they need to like you even better because it shows that you really care about them. Even if it is something as simple as a digital download.

5. To remain up to date with brand news

If people are loyal towards your brand, there is a high chance that they wish to remain updated with the things that are going on in your world.

Things such as events, launches, milestones etc.

Make sure you are mixing in brand news with your shared content so that your followers can remain updated.

Again, this makes your audience feel that your brand is sensitive enough to share important milestones and events with them, that you consider them to be an important part of your journey as you grow and achieve more success.

So the next time you are about to plan out your social media schedule, pause for a moment and think about these 5 answers. Make sure you mix and match all the relevant post types (friendly, relevant, special offers, product launches etc.) to provide your audience with a healthy mix.

ParadigmNEXT Guest Blog by Social Media with Priyanka


Priyanka Biswas is the founder and owner of Social Media with Priyanka. Her website teaches small to medium sized business owners, bloggers and solopreneurs about social media and content marketing in very terms to grow their presence online. Follow her on the social networks below for free marketing tips and advice.

Social Media with Priyanka on Facebook and Twitter.