In 2018 consumers are looking for brands that ooze personality, they want companies to be more relatable and less frigid giant corporations of the past. Social media is king and live video is currently queen, and with this change comes an air of authenticity. 

It's no secret that content creation can be time consuming, expensive, and nearly impossible to perfect. What a lot of businesses are doing now, is allowing a small team of their employees to create relatable content that viewers will feel comfortable with.

Gone are the days where models had to be perfectly primped and primed for a photo shoot, with all imperfections erased away before being published. Many online retailers are actually gearing toward a more natural look, with wispy hairs and even a stretchmark or two still visible. Times are changing, so don't get left in the dust. 

Here are three ways to build a relatable online presence:

1. Engage with your audience in a way that's natural.

If you click around a bit and see what the posts of your customers look like, you may notice that they look completely different than what you typically publish. Now, I am not saying that you need to downgrade to an Iphone4 and turn on the gritty filter to achieve cohesion with your fan base.

Perhaps posting in a manner which is less salesy and instead looks more like what their friends would post online might garner more loyal fans. I tried this with my online store, posting more lifestyle imagery where girls weren't overly photoshopped and saw both an increase in engagement and sales. 

2. Stand for something, and allow your followers to join in

There are plenty of fish in the sea, how do you stand out? One great way is to align your brand with a cause that is important to you and relevant to your brand. I know of a jewelry brand that teaches homeless women and those who've faced abuse the trade of jewelry making, and provides these women with living wages to get back onto their feet and support their families.

This is great because they are giving back, and also aligning with a cause that is near and dear to many hearts. Every purchase allows the buyer to support these women, and accomplish their goal of jewelry shopping at the same time. 

3. Speak to your customer base as if you were friends.

Are you struggling to get users to reply via comments to your posts? Perhaps if your captions spoke to people in a way that made them engage, and not so much at them, you'd see better results. Asking open ended questions will allow your followers to feel like a part of something, versus just as a bystander.

Some ideas may be telling them to share their favorite emoji with you, say which state they are from, or even by asking them a question about your brand like what color you should produce a new product in. Most social media users want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, let them in! Also, don't be afraid to reply to them. We all know how bad it feels to be left hanging, shoot back a thank you or reply to their comments (this will also increase your comment count). 

When you begin to make these changes, and also apply them to your live video strategy you will see a more engaged and loyal user base. I'm sure you were comfortable turning your friends into customers, but can you manage to turn your customers into friends? 2018 is the perfect time to test this theory out.