From multinational corporations (MNC) to small-medium enterprises (SMEs), brands have been using social media platforms as tools to stay connected with their audiences. Social media has also become an avenue for sharing brand updates and establishing personal relationships with prospective customers.
For companies to thrive in today’s highly digital world, they need to bring their brand to life. Having a “humanized” online voice can help your brand become more relatable, which is critical to be engaging.
Brands often feel like conceptualized entities, inhuman and incapable of two-way relationships. People like to be talked to, not talked at, so it should come as no surprise to learn that “authentic” conversations are always preferred over being force-fed yet another value proposition.
Research shows that consumers trust online reviews more than product information relayed by sales personnel. The same goes for branded messaging, which is also considered sale-sy, so you can just about imagine how skeptical people can be any product-related content you post.
That’s why brands need to be more “human” and embrace two-way interactions to increase audience engagement. To help you achieve this, here are ten tips to humanize your brand:
1) Have a good sense of humor:
If you want to engage your audience in a meaningful way and leave a positive impression, it helps to give them something they can relate to. Sometimes, this can be as easy as telling a well-timed joke or injecting some humor into your content.
Who can forget that Old Spice advertising campaign? It’s undoubtedly one of the most successful uses of humor to increase audience engagement. In week one, the campaign received over 20 million views, increased Facebook fan interaction by 800%, and brand website traffic by 300%. This led to a 27% increase in sales over the first 6 months and helped Old Spice become the #1 body wash brand for men.
The reason humor works so well is because it gets people to let their guard down, making them less apprehensive and more open to hearing what you have to say next. The positive nature of humor also helps establish rapport, trigger affirmative memorability and create brand alignment. Above all, it just makes consumers feel good, as long as it’s relatable and not overly-controversial or offensive.
2) Provide valuable and shareable content:
A lot of brands want their posts to go viral, but that’s not really an effective strategy. Content producers generally have no control over the virality of their posts. All they can do is implement the best distribution methods and promotional tactics in an effort to reach the maximum number of users.
Having said that, there are specific attributes common to all viral content that trigger emotional responses and increase our propensity to share. It’s all about the value of your post, which can be created with entertainment, practical value, or aesthetics. As long as the topic is interesting and resonates with your audience, you can bet that it’ll shared among those with related beliefs, encouraging social validation.
Your content doesn’t always have to be about your brand or products. Sometimes it’s good to include a variety of posts that spark your audience’s interests. Try to follow the 80/20 rule whereby 80% of the content you share is about creating conversations with your audience and 20% is promotional. You can include seasonal messages as well as interesting industry stories to complement your branded messages. You can even opt to take the socially responsible path and create community content or public service announcements. The true value lies in creating conversations that encourage engagement.
3) Learn about what makes your audience tick:
In every area of social marketing, it’s important to know who your target audience is. With so many other brands and individual accounts competing for audience attention, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. Research your customer profile and make sure you’re choosing the right tone and voice that resonates well with them. Speak their language, using slang terms can make your brand more relatable.
There are a number of ways to learn about your audience on social media. Most importantly, brands need to listen to what their audiences are saying to uncover what their interests are, where their pain points lie, and what motivates them to engage with content. It’s also a good idea to track brand mentions to reveal predispositions and how they feel about your brand and its products.
4) Compliment online branding with in-store experience:
Brands today are doing their best to build integrated marketing communications strategies. This means aligning every channel to maintain a consistent tone, theme and message. Almost every brand is already using online platforms to enhance their in-store experience.
Take for instance the apparel company, Nordstrom. They use Pinterest to bridge the gap between their brick and mortar and their website. They frequently analyze products or items that receive high “pins” online and feature them in their physical stores.
What this does is create an effective omni-channel experience whereby customers see the same products online as they do in-store. What’s more is the ability to contribute to what gets featured based on where users’ interests lie and what they pin, making it easier for the company to make inventory management decisions.
5) Engage in conversation:
One of the best things about having a social media channel is the ability to connect with your consumers on a personal level. Gone are the days when brands had no way to communicate with their customers. Before, you would need to dial a customer hotline. But the internet and social media have brought about endless ways to communicate and an open dialogue between brands and their audience.
Engaging in “real” conversation with your audience can help your brand become more human and relatable. Steer clear of generic or automated messages whenever possible. Interactions with a real person are far more effective at building trust and increasing customer satisfaction levels.
6) Get some influencers:
Having great content is just one part of the marketing equation. It’s also important to think about who’s doing all the talking. It’s safe to say that some people’s words carry more weight than others. That’s why we call them industry influencers. The fact of the matter is, consumers trust influential individuals far more than they trust brands themselves, being relatively impartial and all.
Influencer marketing has been around for as long as anyone can remember, but marketers still consider it as an effective tactic to build trust and authority. And for good reason – because it works.
The best way to reach out to influencers is to build long-lasting relationships with them. The other way is to simply provide some incentive, whether it’s financial or not. My advice would be to find influential people within your industry and start interesting conversations with them or share their content to get on their radar. Once you’ve made several introductions, asking for help becomes much easier.
7) Leverage social advertising:
Although everyone is on social media, not everyone is guaranteed to see your content. There’s just too much other content competing for your audience’s attention. This means it’s time to make use of other distribution tactics.
Paid advertising is available on pretty much every social media platform. Tools like Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, and LinkedIn Ads can really give your reach a boost, making sure you get exposure in the right circles. A good practice is to be specific with your targeting. Most social platforms allow for very specific advertising and you should make use of them to optimize your campaign, reduce costs and increasing click-through rates.
8) Sign off with your name:
One of the easiest ways to make your posts more human is to sign off with your name, or better yet, feature your staff. This can help consumers put a face behind a name. Take a cue from Mexican restaurant, Chipotle:
Have you ever tried our green-tomatillo medium? I really love that flavor. -Shane
— Chipotle (@ChipotleTweets) November 3, 2016
9) Choose your platforms wisely:
It might be tempting to create your own Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Google+, and all the other social media platforms emerging, but you have to take into consideration your audience. Are these the platforms where you can find them?
For example, Facebook might be the most popular social media platform with the largest user base, but LinkedIn is far more effective for driving B2B leads and interacting with relevant users. So do a bit of research and figure out what platforms your audience is predominantly using. This way, you’ll have a much higher chance of reaching your target audience and your efforts won’t go to waste.
10) Provide solutions:
Nothing makes a brand more relatable than understanding the problems their consumers face. You can try posting content that can help customers answer a particular problem. It doesn’t even have to be content that your brand produced. People appreciate it when you share other brands’ content as long as it helps them solve a relevant problem.
That’s another thing that makes social media a great platform for brands to connect with their audiences. Even if you don’t have the capacity to solve a particular problem, you’re bound to find someone else that does. And when you share that solution with your audience, some of the credit inevitably rubs off on your brand for finding and sharing the content.
Being social is not just about being active, but more about creating meaningful interactions and speaking to your audience as a human entity. Social media is a great tool to stay connected with your audience and with a healthy online following, you can expand your brand’s reach in the market.
Having a community of online followers can help you build offline an army of brand advocates. So, do not take for granted the influence you can have online simply by enhancing your social media presence.