Humanizing Your Brand: What It Means and How to Do It

Often, when discussing the benefits of social media, pundits say things like, “Social media allows you to humanize your brand.”

All of us begin to shake our collective heads in agreement, but we should probably stop and ask, what  it even means to “humanize” your brand?

Intuitively, we all know that customers want to know your company, or organization, or brand has real living people making it go.  But what does it take to in fact, to pass the social media equivalent of the Turing test and make a brand seem truly human?

1.    Be Funny. Not, “like OMG funny, LOL.” Actually like their seriously funny friend.

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Humor is one of the most pervasive and powerful ways individuals connect on social media. And it’s a great tool brands can use to develop bonds with consumers. For instance, the first Dollar Shave Club commercial on mass media delivered a metric-$#!t-ton of funny moments. It was great air cover in their bid to launch a brand. But the company didn’t stop there. They continued with a hand-to-hand offensive on their social channels.  And you don’t even have to be Jim-Gaffigan-funny. You just have to be personal, you know, human.

2.    Participating in or  promoting an event? Post during the event!

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This is appears as one of the simplest recommendations, yet it can be maddeningly difficult to execute on a human level.

For any brand, Events present a great opportunity to connect, with customers.  Yet, once many events have begun, participating or sponsoring brands go radio silent. If you are hosting the event,you need to have a plan going in. So, how can you be more human? Share images or video of your team engaging with attendees. If it’s your event, establish and promote a dedicated hashtag. Start or join conversations connected to the event hashtag. Keep attendees aware of time-sensitive information, e.g.: when a keynote is about to start. Give them inside information about the venue or surrounding area. Answer individuals’ questions or respond to their concerns in real-time. Share photos and videos for interested folks who just couldn’t make it there in person.

3.     Empathy. You gotta feel it.

If you haven’t been to Nike’s Support Twitter account, go. It’s an education in customer support all by itself. But that is a post for another day.

This is how you solve an audience member’s issue on Twitter.

The entire exchange is nearly perfect. The timeliness. The request to move it offline to solve it, the real “human” language used. But perhaps most important to note is that the entire discussion begins with Nike admitting how frustrating this user’s experience is. The long conversation afterward displays that Nike customer service’s empathy is true and that some person behind a giant brand helped someone out.

4.     Track your brand (and your competitors’), and join the conversation.

Managing the amount of mentions, DMs, wall posts and other direct lines of messaging is challenging enough. But did you know people don’t have to put an @ in front of your account name to talk about you?

You can use several tools (Hootsuite, HubSpot, SproutSocial, TweetDeck, etc.) and use their column functionality to simply enter your name or shortened version of your name to keep track of people trying to connect with you.

This does two things. First, it allows you to engage with your audience, even if they aren’t directly following you. Second, you get to surprise someone who isn’t expecting a response. And, in the best-case scenario, steal a customer’s loyalty from your competitor.

5.     Actually dedicate a human to run your social.

Often times, brands try to get away with posting occasionally, using social as a push medium, or only responding to certain types of mentions. Further, some brands tack social media responsibilities onto another related position and hope it will be good enough. It can be. But it won’t really succeed in the way that drives the business. Devoting a person or a team to managing, responding and creating content for social channels optimizes the potential of successfully humanizing your brand, and making a positive impact on your business.

So, feel free to tweet at @Magnani_Dot_Com. We promise there is a person waiting to respond.