Even if you’ve never seen 1984’s Places in the Heart, you’re probably familiar with Sally Field’s Academy Award acceptance speech – “You like me… you really like me”.

Jump onto Facebook any day of the week, and you will be bombarded by click-bait ads, creative articles and other ways that companies are vying for your like. Companies seem addicted to getting you to like them… The like is modern digital’s ambrosia.

Smarter companies see likes as something else altogether. They see it not as the end-point, but rather a powerful connection through which they can build relationships with customers over time.

Be smart, and avoid some of the common mistakes that stand in your way from converting likes into sales

Mistake 1: Setting unrealistic expectations

Posting once a month and expecting the world to come to you, is like being at a party with all of your friends and spending the whole time in the bathroom. In order to build quality connections through social, you need to vary your posting frequency (monitor various timings to see which generate the greater responses), mix up your content type (i.e. not all of your ads / posts need to be about a product launch) to see what resonates best, and don’t be afraid to experiment a little with your tone / voice. The most successful social campaigns have been born out of a high-degree of test and learn.

Mistake 2: Being unresponsive

One of the worst things you can do is to not respond to your audience when they truly want to connect with you. Monitor incoming posts, comments and likes – and engage in return with those who engage with you. The surest way to build a relationship with your audience is to reward their interest with your focused attention.

Mistake 3: Forcing the sale

Imagine you are minding your own business in a store, and all of a sudden some pushy salesperson rolls up and tries to sell you something you’re not really interested in. Engaging your audience with pushy sales conversations are obvious and intrusive, and social users are growing increasingly jaded by brands that try to quick-sell. Instead of leading with the sale, start a dialogue with your audience, find out what they like / dislike – and then together start a conversation about a solution. It might not necessarily end in a sale if you simply provide them with some information / content, but it will certainly build greater levels of trust (and be reflected in your returning audience rates!).

Mistake 4: Trying to be someone else

If you are an agriculture machinery manufacturer, don’t try to talk like Apple. Yes, their ads are great and the kids love them… but your brand should speak in a way that matches its actual identity. Make sure you’ve got a clearly defined brand voice, and use this when you interact with your audience. You don’t always need to be formal (in fact, social forgives a generally informal tone) or ultimately professional, you just need to be yourself. Social consumers will quickly see through a façade you are presenting and head for the door. Or the unfollow.

Mistake 5: Being a poor listener

Learn to take feedback. Find people in your industry that are playing the game well – and then learn from them. Have conversations with experts, your customers and pretty much anyone that is willing to share, and then learn some more. Park your pride at the door, listen to what is being said about how to do things better and take stock. The most successful social brands have taken a long time to get where they are, and are usually happy to share. All you have to do is listen.

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