Social networks were meant for real humans. Websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were intended for real people—for real-life conversations about real-life things.

But, of course, it wasn't long until we marketers saw an opportunity. And off we went: fan pages, corporate Twitter accounts, people trying to sell stuff on social networks...

Well, if done wisely, social media can become a powerful medium for driving traffic to your site, engaging with clients, and managing your brand's reputation. The trick is to preserve a human face while acting on behalf of your company. But how?

Different Styles of Social Management

Of course, each social media promoter has his/her own style of managing social media marketing (SMM) campaigns. Yet I'd single out four social management styles that differ according to the degree of their aggressiveness, productivity, and the amount of manual labor involved.

1. Manual posting

Nearly all social management newbies begin by handling their accounts, well, by hand. This method surely has its advantages, but it works best at the initial stage of one's social media career, when one is still learning the ropes.

2. Scheduled posting

I bet any SMM newbie soon discovers that it's not worth working weekends to engage with your Facebook followers (the weekend is the best time to post on Facebook). One can just stay at home and have preselected posts publish themselves with a nifty tool such as Buffer, for instance.

3. Using advanced SMM tools

Besides just scheduling social posts, you could use more advanced social management software that helps you manage multiple accounts, store all your logins and passwords in one place, post announcements to several sites at once, etc. Such SMM tools simply spare you the need to switch between multiple networks, substantially speeding up your work.

Managing multiple social accounts with the BuzzBundle SMM tool

4. 100% automated SMM

Some folks opt to use SMM gear such as TweetAdder and the like to automate their social media campaigns to an extreme degree. Sure, you can get tons of followers in one night, automatically dispatch hundreds of DMs, but, in the end, you end up with poor engagement, since your followers quickly discover there is no real human behind your social accounts.

And that leads us to the question: How do you keep it human, without having to stay late hours and weekends tweeting and posting to Facebook (or any other social network)?

Keeping It Human in Seven Steps

Here's my own social media promotion strategy, in seven steps, which I use to engage with the customers and connect to people in my niche.

Let me start by saying that, in my social media campaigns, I religiously follow two rules:

  1. A brand's social accounts should be human-managed at least to some extent.
  2. People should feel that there is a real person behind corporate accounts.

For example, we at Link-Assistant.Com are a member of a popular German-speaking Web marketing community. So, whenever people send us private messages, I'd normally answer them and sign...

Mit freundlichen Grüßen,
Alesia Krusch

as opposed to...

Mit freundlichen Grüßen,

1. Know your audience

Another important aspect of any successful SMM campaign is to actually know beforehand what kind of people you're targeting. As a marketing tools developer, before going social we decided that we're looking to attract the following:

  • Bloggers who write for fun or money
  • Website owners who promote their own websites
  • In-house SEOs, SMM managers, and other types of in-house Web promoters
  • People working for Internet marketing firms (more of a B2B model)
  • Industry influencers

As you see, one should try to not only get more followers and attract new clients but also connect with the industry's big names, since the latter are the people who (A) you can learn from, (B) usually stay on top of industry news and, hence, can help you with newsjacking, (C) could write about your company/product, or (D) could partner with you for various common projects.

And, I'd like to share some of my own secrets of meeting great people to connect with via different social networks.

2. Click though links in people's profiles

Many people (especially those worth following) normally add links to third-party sites in their social media profiles, such as links to their Google+ page, their blog, their employer's site, etc. So, I'd normally click those links to find out more about the person, and that's mostly how I decide who to follow.

3. Mention the author when tweeting a post

You'd be surprised how many websites are not set up to automatically mention a post's author when you tweet that post. At the same time, giving the author credit works well in   establishing a relationship with that author (who will most likely see that you tweeted the post); plus, it's sheer politeness.

For example, this is what happens when I try to tweet a post on Search Engine Land:

As the author of the post is Bryson Meunier, I'd like to give him credit by mentioning his Twitter handle when tweeting the post. Some websites insert that author handle automatically. If they don't, you should just do it by hand.

4. Connect with authority commenters

Some blog posts get comments that could themselves be treated as separate posts—so well thought-out and informative they are. That is what I often see at Hugo Guzman's blog, for example. So, if I find someone's comment interesting, I'd normally go ahead and look up the commenter on Google (unless there's a link to their profile in the comment itself). Then, if I find the commenter's profiles interesting as well, I'd follow the person on Twitter, G+, or wherever.

5. Post a quote a day

Why do people post quotes? It's simple: We're all human, and every now and then we need some inspiration and a break from business talk. If you share a great quote, it may go viral, get you followers, or catch some important person's attention.

6. Spark online discussion

Another way to grab people's attention is to ask questions or to express unconventional points of view, sparking discussion and involving people you haven't met before. Doing so also brings fun into your social media posts and helps you establish yourself as someone with unique perspectives.

7. Show your human side

And, finally, what I truly love about social media is that it lets you show your human side. Well, if you think about it, all companies are made of humans, and showing that you're human, too, helps you connect with people on various levels—and that kind of bond may be stronger than a simple business connection.

So, do show what you're passionate about, or take part in a cause, like this:

And the best part is…

Being human doesn't mean you have to do it all by hand. After all, if you look at these two posts, can you tell which one had been scheduled and posted via a tool?

So, to save yourself time, you can safely use SMM software to speed up the tedious part of the process—and leave the human part up to yourself.

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image of Alesia Krush

Alesia Krush is a digital marketer at software provider Link-Assistant.Com, which offers SEO PowerSuite, a professional toolset for all-round SEO, and BuzzBundle, a social marketing app launched in 2012.

Twitter: @AlesiaKrush