The content you publish. The voice you cultivate. The way you respond to customers. On social media, all these elements work in tandem to help you form a better relationship with your followers.

At the end of the day, isn’t what we’re all working towards? We want our customers to feel like they know us and love us.

Social media, which is all about creating and cultivating a community, is one of the best ways for companies to accomplish this.

Research backs this up, too. Customers who engage with companies on social media are more emotionally attached to those brands, resulting in a 15 percent better relationship. That deeper connection also means followers are more satisfied, loyal, and willing to recommend your business.

And, get this. The more customers develop a relationship and emotional connection with a company, the more they humanize you. Customers think of you less like a business that delivers a service and more like a friend who has a distinct personality and identity they connect with.

Jump-start this process by proactively humanizing your company on social. Here’s how.

1. Start with brand personality.

Imagine your business as a person. How would you describe yourself to a stranger?

Write down the three to five words that you would use to personify your brand. Ensure everyone on your social media marketing team has those — and can always see them at their desks.

Before they post any new content or responses, make sure the language they’re using encapsulates those words and brings your personality to life.

2. Know what people want.

As you’re crystallizing your business’s personality, step back and pinpoint how people want you to act.

Sprout Social talked to 1,000 people to define the top characteristics consumers want from companies on social media.

  1. Honest (86 percent)
  2. Friendly (83 percent)
  3. Helpful (78 percent)
  4. Funny (72 percent)

Other research suggests that sincerity, competence, excitement, and sophistication are most important to improve customer satisfaction, with sincerity being at the top of the list.

In essence, it comes down to three things: Tell the truth. Be eager and ready to answer questions. And have fun!

3. Make it real.

As you would guess, the easiest way to personify your brand is to choose an actual person to bring your brand’s personality to life (a spokesperson). Think of how memorable and effective Progressive’s Flo or Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in The World are.

Using a spokesperson can close a significant gap (up to 16 points) between initial brand preferences, according to Elon University research.

Plus, then, you can have that person be the “face” of your social media marketing as well. That will be a huge help for creating person-first content, like on Instagram Stories.

4. Stop talking like a robot.

Do you have a few answers stashed away that you just copy/paste in response to people’s questions?

You’re going to want to stop that! Nothing says, "I’m not your friend. I’m a machine," more than auto-posting canned responses.

If you’re taking the time to reply to your customers’ questions, make it worth it. Respond like a real human. Empathize with their problems. Mirror their language. Do your best to connect — not just reply.