With the upcoming release of the new Matrix film, The Matrix Resurrections, I took a bit of time to indulge in some classic ninety’s nostalgia and rewatch the original movie. It really is timeless, and those special FX still kick ass but what’s that got to do with social media?

Well…the basic premise of the movie (if you somehow haven’t seen it) is that humanity is unknowingly trapped inside a simulated reality, The Matrix, which intelligent machines have created to distract humans while using their bodies as an energy source. Ok, so a tad dramatic for comparison but I fear those pesky, complicated, ever-changing algorithms have us distracted us from what really matters in social media. The human element. Connecting on a personal level…and that’s one job a machine can’t do… yet.

So, here’s my top tips for connecting with an audience and crucially, as a result, keeping engagement as high as possible:

Know your audience

If you don’t know them, how can you connect with them? Getting to know your audience is integral to being able to connect with them on a personal level. Age, location and gender is just the tip of the iceberg. We really need to dig deeper into their hobbies and interests, what their daily schedule might look like, where they like to hang out (online and offline) and crucially, what motivates and demotivates them. Drawing up a persona is great start and a perfect way to audience test your content.

Audience value

Are you posting just to ‘beat the algorithm’ without really taking audience value into account? We’ve all heard how many times a day, week or month you should be posting to get the best engagement. I get it and it’s true but to really see and feel the benefit of those posts you need engagement and that will only happen when you provide your audience with value. Think knowledge, news, problem solving, entertainment, special offers and opportunities.

Stand out

In a crowded space, it’s easy to be missed. So, what are you doing differently to stand out? Like a person with a crazy alternative style, a booming voice, a naughty sense of humor or a loud cackling laugh, we can use lots of different tactics to be noticed. Don’t be tempted to copy your competitors, have opinions, be yourself, be different and be seen.

Emotional connection

Just like in real life, on social media, we will be at our most successful in engaging with people by building an emotional connection. Knowing and understanding the problems that our audience face is a great place to start. Empathy is the most powerful emotion in building a personal relationship, so show empathy for the issues your audience might have and if you’re business can provide the solution, remind them. Be excited for the same things your audience get excited for and be sad about the same things they are sad about. As an emotional connection grows, so does trust and when an audience trusts a brand, they continue to use it.

Just like The Matrix, social media can be a little bit confusing, but my advice is to keep it simple, keep it social and be human.

Here’s a great example, from Heineken (below), that I feel really checks all the boxes for the points above.