The novelty of interacting with brands on social media hasn’t really worn off yet. It’s still kind of a big deal, so take advantage of the attention by leveraging it for your brand.
One of the best ways to take advantage of social media for your business is by using it to humanize your brand. Communicate and connect with consumers in the fun, casual structure of your social media channels where it’s relatively safe to let your brand relax a bit.
Use these guidelines to start maximizing your social media participation and putting the human element back into your brand.
Put Some Faces to Your Name
Your brand doesn’t actually have a face, but the people who represent it do. Show the real, diverse faces of your brand to help the world identify and connect with your company. Think about who your consumers are and the kind of people they’d respect or care about. Show that.
Don’t focus on showing only employees that seem identical to your main buyer personas. That strategy can backfire fast. After all, if you’re offering a service that your buyers can’t do themselves, why would they expect a carbon copy of themselves to do it? That doesn’t mean you should stick to stereotypes, just be diverse, real and mindful of the image you’re projecting.
Shoot Lots of Video
What’s better than seeing the real faces of your brand? Seeing them in a video. An amateur video shot around your office using real people will show the mannerisms, flaws and quirks that combine to represent your humanity. There’s no more popular medium for humanizing brands than simple video shot on your iPhone, webcam or other readily-available equipment.
Talk Like a Real Person
We all know a real person is typing your brand’s tweets and status updates. So you don’t have anything to lose by actually sounding like a real person. Use the same language, pacing, emojis and little extras that you would as a real human.
Again, you still have to consider who you’re talking to. For instance, don’t use a million emojis and the vernacular of a recent college grad if your main buyer persona is elderly retirees. But in general, just being a down-to-earth human is enough to appeal to everyone.
Take a Side
It doesn’t have to be a controversial issue, but give your brand some opinions. Stir up a little controversy and start a conversation by standing up for something your brand believes in. How far you want to venture this rabbit hole is up to you, just make sure everyone is on board before you tackle a serious issue like politics.
Better yet, share the causes your brand supports like animal welfare, disease research and human services. It’s unlikely you’ll receive anything but support for taking the sides of sick people, kids or puppies in cages.
If you’re still too shy to show your support for a real cause, start the kind of silly side-taking brawl the internet is famous for, such as: ketchup versus mustard, morning versus night, dogs versus cats, summer versus winter, different pronunciations of common words– you get it.
Have fun shaking things up. Not only do opinions help to shape your brand’s personality, they can strike up an awesome opportunity to converse with your audience.
Show Real Emotion and Humor
Once you’ve gotten comfortable as a more humanized brand on social media, start digging deeper into humor, empathy, sympathy, humor, sarcasm, joy or even snark. By showcasing a range of complex reactions and emotions, you’re being more human, more relatable and more vulnerable.
Brands don’t really feel anything, but people do. So it’s easier for your consumers to see you as a trusted friend than just another company when they’re watching you experience emotions.
Answer every single post and as many comments as possible. People won’t take the time to engage with your brand or even pay attention to your social channels if they think you aren’t listening. Show them you’re invested by being a part of every conversation.
Every comment, every reply and every private message reflects on the quality of your customer service. Gone are the days of confining customer issues to a toll free number. Today, you’re publicly held accountable for everything you do right, everything you do wrong and most importantly, how you react.
Be in the Moment
Don’t rely too heavily on your social media scheduling tools, you’ll lose the authenticity that comes with really being in the moment. Instead of scheduling all of your posts, try setting notifications to remind yourself to post at ideal times.
When you’re choosing which posts to make in real time, try to see your social posts on a spectrum of importance. On one end you have really important posts that you expect to generate a lot of attention. On the other end, you have insignificant small-talk like “Have a good weekend!” posts. Both of these post types benefit from your genuine in-the-moment context, confidence and details. Save your automated posts for middle-of-the-spectrum banter.
People have the luxury of a childhood and adolescence to figure out who they are. Your brand doesn’t get that opportunity, so in order to have any depth of a personality, it helps to personify your brand.
Sit down and make a list of traits your brand would have if it was a person. Include likes, dislikes, gender, age, education level, favorite entertainment types, style, temperament, favorite phrases, etc. Any little personality trait you can think of will help you to imagine your brand as a fictional person. Use that “personality” to craft realistic responses that seem to fit it’s natural demeanor.
Start talking and not just on your own page. Get around on your social media channels and interact. When a major brand likes the post of an average consumer, that person gets an instant brand evangelist boost, telling everyone who will listen about that interaction.
Social media users pride themselves on the ability to get attention with their original content. Use that to your advantage by giving them the attention they’re looking for.
Show Us the Why
If you’re going to talk about your products or services on social, don’t delve into technical specs or features and functions. On social media, our attention spans are shorter than ever. So don’t waste space talking about your products. Instead, give us a reason to care about them. Show us the “why” of your products and services. What’s the awesome end result? Social media is a great place to post real customer results and stories in any form.
Restaurants should post mouthwatering pics of their dinner specials alongside pics or videos of their customers and ambiance. Contractors should post their finished products, professional crew and how-to videos. Auto dealerships should show the pictures of excited customers posing with their new cars.
Think about the essence of why consumers should choose you, whatever that may be, then show them that on your social media channel.
Plan for Disaster
Just like in real life, situations are going to arise on social media that you don’t want to deal with. But don’t ignore them. You’ve got to stand up against trolls, respond to hard criticism, talk directly to competitors and deal with the controversy that shows up on your social media doorstep. The best way to do all of that is by having a plan. Be prepared to handle your brand with grace under fire in this Impulse Creative blog that takes a deeper dive into creating a social media crisis plan.
Now Go Forth, and Be a Person (or at least personable)
Experiment, try things on, screw up, hit delete and try to replicate what other brands are doing. The only wrong answer on social media is to be boring and not try at all. Even if you majorly screw up, no one will care by next week.
So start creating a humanized personality for your brand the same way you created a personality for yourself, by awkwardly growing into it.