What switches people off when it comes to social media? According to a new online report published by Sprout, in which more than 1,000 Facebook and Instagram followers were surveyed, the answer is as follows: users will unfollow brands if they’re overly promotional (46%), irrelevant (41%), quiet (18%) or unresponsive (15%). In a nutshell, these are four rules for how ‘not’ to grow your social media following.

Your audience is craving connection; they want to see you being real, open and empathetic. Consumers expect a lot from the brands they’re following, largely because their time is so limited. No where is this more apparent than on their social channels, where they’re scrolling through post after post with less than a few seconds glanced over each one.

Consumers want social content that educates (59%), entertains (56%) and inspires them (49%). Ultimately, they’re looking for connection.

So what do they want? If Sprout’s report is anything to go by, consumers want social content that educates (59%), entertains (56%) and inspires them (49%). Ultimately, they’re looking for connection – but the genuine kind, which currently feels so sparse in our digitally-networked world.

82% of consumers who feel they have an emotional connection with a brand will remain loyal – and as such, the customer truly sits in the driving seat. While it can be tempting to see social media as a fantastic platform simply for promoting products, running sponsored content and utilising influencers, the number one focus for anyone managing a social account should be on building one-to-one relationships with users. Forget the sales and ROI. It’s all about networking. In doing this, the rest will follow. But without these connections, people will switch off.

71% of consumers say they would recommend a brand after a positive social interaction, while 94% percent of consumers are more likely to stay loyal to brands that provide complete transparency.

71% of consumers say they would recommend a brand after a positive social interaction, while 94% percent of consumers are more likely to stay loyal to brands that provide complete transparency. 86% look for authenticity when deciding which brands they want to champion, and 80% are more likely to purchase from brands who provide them with a personalised experience. Brands can no longer simply show up and simply post generic content. They need to actively engage, and then foster the relationships that follow. It’s not just about head count or followers anymore.

Every brand has a story; followed by a clear idea of their target market (and if they don’t, they shouldn’t be in business!). It’s this messaging that should be singing through the social channels, rather than cluttered and noisy promotions or adverts. People can now spot a sponsored post a mile off, even with all the #ad, #spon and ‘Sponsored Post’ captions tucked away at the bottom.

People can now spot a sponsored post a mile off, even with all the #ad, #spon and ‘Sponsored Post’ captions tucked away at the bottom.

It’s not to say that people aren’t interested in this kind of content. 72% want social content related to discounts and sales, while 60% want to see new products and services. However, what the research suggests is that this should be mixed in with educational, entertaining and inspirational content that seeks to build long-term relationships and interactions with an audience who care and trust.

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