When it comes to marketing, it’s a tough world out there. There are so many brands competing for the attention of consumers on multiple platforms that it’s very hard to get your voice heard. And the rise of social media as a marketing tool has added a significant new dimension. With so much content on social media being user-generated, it’s time for brands to rethink their approach to marketing. It’s time for brands to stop preaching to consumers and instead develop genuine two-way conversations. In short, it’s time for brands to get real.

It’s all about building trust. According to research from Nielsen up to 92 percent of consumers globally say they trust personal recommendations from family and friends above all other forms of advertising. Now that’s a very powerful medium. So how can companies go about building trust, developing connections and nurturing advocates for their brand? Well, here are three ways in which brands can keep their brand marketing real.

Make it fun

If you want your customers to like, share or retweet your content then make it fun and you stand a good chance. Your customers are humans after all and content that resonates with them is engaging, relevant and fun. Just look at your own Facebook feed and you’ll see that most of what people share that isn’t personal stuff, is interesting, perhaps quirky and at the very least adds value. So rather than going on about your latest product or value proposition, keep it real for your audience by making your messages fun and engaging. That way your posts will receive more likes and shares and, therefore, will have a much wider reach.

Play on consumers’ emotions

Nowadays marketing is all about making real emotional connections with customers. And these emotional and impactful connections are what leads to genuine brand loyalty. Your clients want to know that they’re dealing with real people and not just some faceless corporation. They want to feel excited, hopeful, sad, elated by your brand – in fact, any emotion other than boredom or complete indifference. If you can get these emotional connections right then you’ll be setting yourself apart from the competition and will secure that all-important top-of-mind awareness with your target market.

Involve your customers

It’s customers that will ultimately make a brand successful and so any branding exercise really ought to involve your customers if you want to get it right. We’ve already seen how important word-of-mouth referrals and personal recommendations are and the power of sharing on social media. The truth is nothing has more impact on consumers than the authentic voices of customers who love your brand. So be sure to find ways to let those voices be heard, and the louder the better. Whether it’s regular consumer focus group, competitions and contests, or a blog on your website for consumers to interact and engage in conversations with you and each other, make sure you have plenty of ways to involve your customers.

And so the key takeaway message here is to keep your brand marketing real: involve your customers, make emotional connections and above all keep it fun and relevant.