In the endless search for more follows, likes, comments and shares, it’s easy to forget what social media truly fosters and why we use it: human interactions.

Each of your followers, whether you have 26 or 26,000, are individuals who need to find meaning in your posts in order to remain engaged.

So how do you find and share your meaning? By treating your followers as the people they are.

Be authentic, really

We know, authenticity is a buzzword in social media.

People and businesses talk about being authentic with their posts, but what does it really mean?

Well, think about people you may know who seem inauthententic…what are some of their key qualities? Are they pushing their own agendas? Do they flip-flop on messages they send? Are they trustworthy?

Sometimes it’s helpful to think about not only what authenticity is, but also what it isn’t.

Remember, you’re engaging with humans, not the platforms you’re using.

Don’t send your message to Facebook – send your message to the people who find value in your connection on Facebook. Engage with them as you would a group standing in right front of you.

Evoke emotions

You’ll find articles all over marketing blogs rapping on this key to engaging your customers…because it makes sense.

When you post content that makes people feel something, whether is nostalgia, excitement, joy or pride, people are more likely to share their feelings with their own followers. Why? That’s what being social is.

We engage with each other in an online community in much the same way we do in-person.

We share stories, disclose info, empathize…You’d want to share stories that make your closest friends feel happy, surprised, or joyful, so why not your page followers, too?

Ask what your followers can gain from reading your content

In return for their engagement, you’ve got to give your followers something back. Relationships grow around reciprocation.

Value comes in endless shapes and forms…are you offering behind-the-scenes news they can’t find anywhere else? Do you provide useful tips that apply specifically to your audience? Do you post deals exclusive to your social media network?

Research your followers, take their demographics to heart, and then give them what they want – useful information about the topics they care about.

And have fun

Social media is, by definition, social! Your followers (they’re people, remember) are using social media because it’s fun.

Social media streams can be entertaining, surprising, humorous, sentimental…be one of the feeds your followers enjoy when they see.

Build relationships like you would at a social gathering – tell stories, listen well to others, and maybe have a good joke or two in your back pocket.

Having fun helps bring your authentic side to the table, and remember that you can absolutely be effective and personable at the same time.