How to interact with your audience like a real live human
and build genuine relationships with the people who want to buy what you're selling
by Brittany Taylor
published August 4, 2016
updated July 6, 2018
¶ Awkward bosses, introverted bosses, socially anxious bosses, hear this: It’s time to tamp down on those rising panic levels, swallow the fear, ditch the robo-voice, and learn to interact with your audience like the fascinating human you are beneath that layer of cold sweat.
If you’re pffting as you read this and shouting, “I’m not awkward!” at your computer screen, this is not for you.
If your M.O. is social media automation and you have nary a 10-minute window to spare for idle conversations, this isn’t for you, either.
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This is for business owners who want to build community, for bosses who want to be friends with their customers, for entrepreneurs who want to learn from the people they serve. If you’re that person and you’re just not sure how to do that, exactly, you’re in the right place.
And if you’re on the fence, not certain whether or not you should be interacting with your peeps as a normal person holding normal-person conversations, I’m here to tell you that yes, you should. This is why.
How to deal with anxiety, introversion, and shyness as a creative entrepreneur
Why interacting with your audience like a regular person is one of the best things you can do for your brand
Slick. Rehearsed. One-note. Those words haunt big, corporate brands (uh, and politicians). Like bad reviews, this is a ship-sinking triumvirate that’s hard to counter once it becomes your reputation. The best way to beat it is to get ahead of it. And to do that, you need to go beyond your 9-to-5 realm. You need to get personal.
But wait just a sec. When I say “get personal,” I don’t mean that you need to share snaps of your two-egg breakfast or details of your last doctor appointment. What I mean by “get personal” is that you need to show your audience that you are, in fact, a person, rather than a shill who’s only got business on the brain.
I mean nothing more and nothing less than giving your people what they want: proof that you’re a multi-dimensional human being with interests and opinions and experiences beyond the scope of your money-making venture.
When you show your audience a glimpse of the person behind the business, you give them one more element they can form an emotional bond with, one more reason for them to read your blog and check your Instagram.
And guys? That reason isn’t so that they can learn about a new full-body detox or snag a discount for your upcoming product release. That reason is so that they can deepen the connection they feel with you.
Simply put, your audience wants to get to know you. The real you, not the pretty white-background-with-rose-gold-accents you.
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How conversations take personal sharing to the next level
If level one of personal sharing is the behind-the-scenes blog post or video, then level two is posting un-retouched, imperfect snaps of your life on social media. And if that’s level two, the next level up is initiating real-time, candid conversations about topics that aren’t directly related to your business. That third level of personal sharing is what this post is all about.
I want you to think about your favorite Instagrammer. Got that person’s feed etched into your brain? OK. Now, you love this person’s ‘grams. You double tap, you leave comments, you even tag your friends and DM them the stuff they’ve gotta see.
How would you feel if your favorite Instagrammer liked one of your posts? Or replied to one of your comments? Or followed you? Freaking awesome, right? Durr.
That’s the feeling your audience members get when you chat ‘em up about something out of the blue. They are thrilled that you noticed them. They are eager to keep the conversation going. And they are even more pumped to tell their friends to follow you, because you’re a real person who gets them and their Gilmore Girls obsession.
How to interact with your audience like a real-live human (without passing out, peeing your pants, or looking like a moron)
Breathe in, breathe out. Feel up to multitasking? OK, keep breathing while you read through my tips to start hanging with your audience like a total natural.
Tip #1: Lower the stakes
First dates and job interviews turn most people to jelly because there’s a lot riding on that hour or so of interaction. When you begin to casually interact with your audience, though, you shouldn’t feel the pressure to get shit right.
Will there be moments when the stakes are really high while you chat up your crowd? Totally. But when you’re trying to get comfortable talking with Internet strangers, it’s best to keep the pressure as non-existent as possible.
There are three ways to do that:
Tip #2: Stick with a safe zone
We all have scary places (video is mine). Don’t pick a scary place to start having conversations with your audience. For me, hopping onto Periscope in hopes of chatting up my peeps for the very first time is akin to high school me asking my crush out in the middle of the cafeteria.
Guys? Pairing one scary thing with another scary thing is not a recipe for success.
The stress of a new platform—or even an old platform that you’re trying to become more strategic about using—is not what you need right now. Instead, stick with a conversation location you’re comfortable with. For me, that place is Instagram. For you, it could be Periscope or Facebook or Twitter. Pick a place where you feel safe branching out so that you have something comfy to cling to as you try new tactics.
Tip #3: Pick a topic that you don’t have to think about
I love my business. I love what I do here, I love teaching people about it, and I love helping people though my process.
But when I relaunched SeeBrittWrite.com and revised my processes and services, I found myself locking up a bit when it came time to talk about them. Suddenly, I, a word person, was having trouble finding the words. I was second-guessing myself constantly—and because of that, I was feeling vulnerable and a little bit stilted when it came to communicating my business message.
If that’s how you’re feeling about your business (now or ever), try engaging your audience in a conversation that has nothing to do with business. Talk about The Bachelorette or Harry Potter or Black Panther.
Start a conversation that you could carry by yourself without a second thought precisely so that you don’t have to deliberate over every single word you say.
The next move is yours, bosses. If you’re ready to take a baby step, come on over to Instagram and chat me up! You can find me 24/7 @seebrittwrite.
P.S. Hint hint: I love talking about Harry Potter, fall clothes, and baking. I have a Goldendoodle and I heart office supplies. I live in Charleston. You pick the topic, I’ll talk to you about it 😉
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My name is Brittany, but my friends and clients call me "Britt." Online small business owners hire me to create content strategies and write their blog posts, email newsletters, and social media updates. I work with bosses around the world from the marshes of Charleston, S.C.
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