You’ve heard it said upwards of eight billion times: every brand needs to have a social media presence. At this point, it is common knowledge in the business world that social media is, in fact, a marketing tool. So now that we’ve all finally come to an agreement about the necessity of utilizing social media, the conversation is shifting from being present on social media to being successful on social media.

Yes, the first step is to have a brand presence. This doesn’t mean that your brand needs to fall victim to “shiny object syndrome,” creating a handle or username or profile on every social media platform that Mashable discusses. Think about the purpose of each platform, understand what your brand has to offer, and whichever platforms you do choose to utilize, make sure that they are capable of showing the true colors of your brand.

Presence is mandatory and needed, but it’s more than consistent posts or tweets. When customers interact and engage with a brand on social media, they want a two-way conversation. Actually, they want more than that—they want a relationship. Customers want interaction that goes deeper than run-of-the-mill customer service. Customer service robots are expected at the other end of a 1-800 number, not on social media. Customers crave interaction like speaking to their friends, sharing thoughts and ideas, and really just the feeling of belonging to a group. It’s the brands that radiate an authentic personality on social media, the brands that share other users’ content, that aren’t afraid to state their likes and dislikes that customers can relate to and form a relationship with. It is with this authenticity that social media creates new brand enthusiasts for the company, which has infinite value in the real world, not just behind a screen.

Your Facebook fan count isn’t just a number—it’s a group of people who care enough about your brand to want more. Don’t be afraid to give it to them.

Date: June 23, 2014