Encouraging strangers to talk to one another can be difficult. Not many people find it easy to share information about themselves with people they just met, even on social media. This is where icebreakers come in handy. 

Breaking the ice in a group usually helps people feel more comfortable to join in a group discussion. Many of my recent experiences have revolved around perfecting icebreaking skills. I was an orientation leader, tour guide, and a mentor to freshmen students through a first-year seminar program. You could say I’m a pro at starting the conversation in a group, encouraging people to share their thoughts, and building communities. But things get a little trickier on social media.

When you’re online, you can’t force people to join in the conversation, but you can make them want to. Here are my tips for improving your social media presence by breaking the ice online.

1. Have a purpose

Ask yourself this: What is the reason for my social media account? Think about what makes your account special and why it’s necessary. Once you’re able to answer that, start setting goals. Goals are important to measure your success and hold you accountable. Think about how many fans or followers you want (and when you want them by), the direction for your social conversations and how you want them to impact followers.

2. Develop a voice

You can only make one first impression, so make it a good one. The voice you use on your social media platforms should be your brand, personified. Make sure the language you’re using to connect with fans and followers is reflective of your organization and connects with them in an authentic way. Once the voice is developed, be consistent. This is an opportunity to expand your brand and its personality, so take advantage of that.

3. Know (and grow) your audience

Now that you’ve established why you’re here and who you are, it’s time to grow your audience. Find followers by searching through hashtags that reflect your brand and mission and interact with them. Like, favorite, retweet, and reply to posts and conversations that others are having. Eavesdropping is welcome on social media and totally encouraged. By interacting with other people and brands, you’ll begin to gain followers and build credibility, just remember to stay true to your brand. You may also want to consider paid social media, boosted posts, and like ads to attract some bees to your honey.

4. Create impactful content

At this point, your social ice should be cracked but not completely broken. Here’s where the good stuff happens. Creating meaningful content that resonates with your followers and remains consistent with your message should be next on your to-do list. This is where knowing your audience is crucial and will allow you to tailor your posts to their specific needs. Use images and videos, ask questions, or be funny if it makes sense for your brand. Make sure you’re active by posting a few times per day and replying to any messages, comments, or posts.

Social media is tricky! But you’ll be on the right track if you have a purpose, develop your voice, grow (and know) your audience and always make sure to create relevant content. Hopefully this information helps you chisel away at your social ice, but if you hit an iceberg, we’re always here to help!