“Stay human in this digital age.” We’ve all heard it before. Attend a conference on digital marketing, and a good number of speakers are bound to bring it as the central message of their address.
However, there’s a reason why experts keep bringing up this tip; two reasons rather. 1) It truly is a rule of thumb in dealing with digital content and 2) a lot of people may say they’re doing this but aren’t, or not doing it right.
As marketers, we can get so embedded into brands. We end up not hearing the sound of our voice. We write in brand speak, we get used to selling rather than teaching, and end up marketing like automatons rather than humans.
According to PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey 2018, more than one in three ranks “trust in brand” as among their top three reasons why they avail of a product or a service. And the key to achieving this is making a brand feel human, feel authentic.
So where should you start to humanize your brand fully? Here are 5 effective ways.
Practice what you preach. Start internally
This is probably the biggest hurdle most brands fall victim to.
For many brands, being human is a projection rather than a practice. However, sounding human is different from being human. Brand humanization is not a simple task that can be enacted merely by social media managers. It should spread inherently from one’s company culture.
How does one achieve this? For one, establish your brand identity and brand voice. As Clarissa Felts, Corporate Communications VP of Lowe’s put it. “Social [media] didn't transform our culture, it revealed it.” And audiences know when your brand is faking it.
Do away with restrictive social media policies. Many companies think that banning their employees from posting social media or giving them the strictest of guidelines will help protect their brand. Instead, this clouds the creativity and personality of one’s team. How can a brand be good with digital if it stops its people from practicing it?
Instead, invest in your employees so they know the do’s and don’t of social media marketing. Turn them into your in-house amplifiers. Verify their accounts online (checkmarks beside their online handles can be impressive) and let them be associated with your brand.
Remember, culture beats strategy.
Avoid the curse of knowledge
As mentioned earlier, as you get invested in your brand, the higher your tendency to speak in terms alienating to your audience. This is called the “curse of knowledge.”
The “curse of knowledge” is cognitive bias. It is when you know too much about your brand that it is creating gaps between you and your audience. Review your marketing campaigns. Are they anchored on information your audience may be unaware of?
Step back a little. Think of where your audience is coming from, and speak to them as a friend rather than a customer. Use this hand in hand with our next tip.
Share information that enriches, not sells
Your audience is wary of hard sells. Don’t think of them as an ocean you just throw a wide net too, in hopes of snagging some attention. Think of them as individuals you want to speak to.
Make sure that you share content that would be of genuine interest to your audience. Make it interesting, informative, funny, or inspirational. Tie content thematically to your brand instead of explicitly.
According to Digital Marketing Magazine, mentioning a product or a service lessens brand trust in 3 out of 10 readers. Again, your audience doesn’t need a faceless brand; they need people who take the time and effort to provide useful information to them.
Present the people behind-the-scenes to your audience
To strengthen the humanity of your brand, explicitly show the people behind your efforts.
Use videos. For example, when mounting events, take behind-the-scenes footage. Show the effort being made by your team for your brand’s market. Use your social media accounts to post pictures of employees hard at work or having fun at the office.
Put faces to your brand. It is easier for your audience to form a connection with actual people.
Engage with your audience
Lastly, nothing says “we’re human” more than one’s ability to listen.
Don’t be afraid to get customer feedback. Prompt your audience to share stories related to your brand. Ask them what kind of content they want to see. Invest in your relationship with them.
Use social media to your advantage - it is called “social” for a reason. This way, you make your audience feel like they are an integral part of your brand.
“Staying human” online is easier said than done. However, let this advice be your lightning rod. Let it ground you when you are feeling too consumed in the “business side” of things. Remember, by embracing humanity, by flaunting an authentic personality, and by doing them right—that is the way your brand will truly stand out.