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4 Easy ways to increase content engagement

Can’t Relate? How Digital Marketers Can Better Prioritise Authenticity in Social Media Content with 4 Effective Techniques.

person holding media page smile
Image by Jimmy Foulds

Can you relate to not being relatable?

Why can’t I connect to my followers? Why won’t they engage? What am I doing wrong? Yeah, that’s what I thought. It’s 2022 and social media users’ fake-detectors are as advanced as Facebook’s algorithms. The polished, commercial social media presence just won’t cut it with consumers anymore. Getting your audience to engage is all about being authentic and letting some rawness come through that carefully cultivated image. Luckily for you, I’ve got the answers to why you should ditch the Intsa-perfect and how to up that relatability on your next post with 4 easy techniques.

Why is relatability important?

Relatable content is preferred by customers.

News flash: Social media users are more likely to pay attention to content that looks like it was actually made by a real person and not some soulless corporate machine.

mechanical mask person
Source: Odgers Berndtson

With all of the ‘noise’ cluttering up the social feeds of consumers, it’s important to create content that won’t be immediately dismissed as inauthentic marketing. Competition is high, with ad spending alone in the Social Media Advertising segment being projected to reach US$226.00bn in 2022 according to Statista. Current statistics estimate that the average American is exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 ads every day. It’s harder than ever to stand out, and consumers are better than ever at ignoring unwanted ads. Breaking through this is all about creating a personal experience by generating content that speaks directly to each segment of your market.

But wait, creating authenticity is impossible!

Doesn’t trying to produce digital marketing authenticity make it fake by default? Not necessarily – it’s all about perception. Being authentic doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice deliberation. It’s about being earnest in your message and thinking about how it feels to be the consumer decoding the message and not just what you, the sender, want to say.

1. Game the system by playing

Social media algorithms favour relevant and original content.

Search and social algorithms seek new, quality content, and will place these ahead of tired, unoriginal posts. Optimising consumer feeds through pleasing social media algorithms is essential in reaching your customers – they need to see you to be able to relate to you!

Use formats native to the social media channel.

Sometimes being relatable is just about fitting in. Glossy, high-production videos will stand out like a sore thumb and be dismissed by viewers. It’s best to stick to the style of visuals used by the social media platform, because consumers will pay more attention to content that looks like it belongs on their feeds. Make sure you adjust your layout and message accordingly!

Most platforms encourage users to create native content and discourages offsite linking. They do this because it reduces distractions from the feed and helps users spend more time on the platform. The benefit? More opportunities to show ads to users and to engage with them.

inksplash social media apps
Source: Social Media Buzz Plan

2. Create original content

Warning: Avoid stock photos (unless it’s for humorous purposes).

chick looking at toy chick

Look, stock photos serve a purpose and are good for convenient basic imagery, but their proliferative nature is their downfall. Most social media users are able to immediately identify stock imagery and it will have a dissociative effect on your brand. Their inauthenticity comes from lack of personalisation, with a disconnect from both the brand and the customer. An eye-tracking study even found that consumers are highly likely to ignore stock imagery, and that if your audience is skimming your advertisements, you’ll struggle to connect and engage their attention. There’s also the concern of the image being used by a competitor or becoming negatively associated with another brand to boot.

However, don’t shy away from using images in general – it can help to break up chunky bits of text and a picture tells a thousand words, after all. Instead, use customised images to give your brand a unique and unified look, which is better for consumer association and adds authenticity.

3. Use short, unpolished video content

DIY doesn’t have to mean low-quality; convey spontaneity and sincerity.

The internet is a fast-paced environment, and the attention span of consumers are limited. Facebook has consumers spending, on average, 1.7 seconds with a piece of content on mobile compared to 2.5 seconds on desktop. With such fleeting interest, digital marketers can’t afford to waste their time on ineffective content.

hands holding phones

There is a reason why trends become trends. Leaning into the popular short video format is a perfect way to capture the attention of your audience, and giving a human element through unpolished shorts is a great way to get viewers to relate. This can be achieved through tutorials/demos, behind-the-scenes sneak peeks, real-person testimonials and eye-catching edits. Don’t waste your efforts on over-producing something that will be overlooked by social media users. Keep it real, keep it short – it takes only 0.25 seconds of exposure for people to recall mobile feed content.

4. Promote community engagement by getting personal

Tell a real story and get your word out there.

To appeal to a customers’ emotions, you need to connect with them first. Don’t fall into the trap of focusing too much on the product, and not the people who will be using it. One of the best ways to get your consumers to relate and to come across as authentic is through digital storytelling. This can come from both the brand’s perspective (“Our Story”) and from the consumers’ response to the brand (such as testimonials).

Eliciting an emotional response from the users can convince them that you understand how they feel – that you can relate. This makes your ad both more memorable and will help capture attention and engagement.

Executed well enough, and you can foster a true sense of community, bringing your brand and its followers to life, becoming an authentic and relatable persona.

person emerging from book

Tip for digital marketers: Empathy. Understand your brand’s persona (values, mission, culture) and how consumers respond to it. Pay attention to this relationship to keep content authentic for the brand’s personality.

Key takeaways

Authenticity is king in being able to get your customers to relate to your social media content. Generating original content with short videos, testimonials and engaging behind-the-scenes posts are necessary tools to cut through cluttered feeds.

Putting the effort into your digital marketing relatability is definitely worth it, and with these techniques it won’t be long before you start to see results in your community engagement.

key relatability ideas circles

Go forth digital marketers and conquer relatability in 2023!

Sarah MacKinnon

Sarah MacKinnon is a recent Bachelor of Commerce Graduate from The University of Melbourne, majoring in Marketing and Management. Sarah now works in Melbourne as a management consultant and is dedicated to helping businesses grow and improve.