Everyone in marketing knows that social media can be a powerful tool for reaching a wide audience.

But social media isn’t just for broadcasting messages to your followers. It can be a platform to develop authentic relationships. Here are some things I’ve found helpful for creating personal connections through digital engagement:

First, avoid sales talk.

There’s a place for sales-oriented content – targeted Facebook advertising, for example. But generally, sales is not a good organic strategy for social media. Millennials, especially, desire authenticity. They’re put off when you’re only posting content that is trying to sell them something.

Instead, show off your behind-the-scenes office culture.

I’ve found that unplanned, in-the-moment content gets the most engagement. For example, instead of scheduling a generic post for National Donut Day, I might film the O’Neill team walking to the local bakery for donuts. If someone brings their pet into the office, I put it on our agency’s Instagram story.

This approach is less efficient than scheduled posts, but it makes our agency more relatable to people in our community.

Use social media to follow up on connections.

In-person events are a great jumping off point for connecting digitally. O’Neill is active in our community, so someone might stop by our table at an event and take a picture at our photo booth and tag us. I’ll follow up with a direct message (DM) video to them on Instagram to say, “Thanks for stopping by, it was great to meet you!”

This gives them a personal connection with our agency and has led to new opportunities. Plus, this approach can be more effective than other channels – while emails, for me, get about a 43 percent open rate and minimal response rates, I have a 93 percent seen rate on DM’s that I send, and an 89 percent response rate.

Building trust through social media engagement requires creativity. How can you best tell your agency’s story and invite people in your community to be part of that story?

Read more about how to engage your customers online in our new research report