As more and more businesses use social media to market their brands, it can be difficult to differentiate yourself from the rest, especially since there are a lot of social media platforms that you need to be present on. However, much of this could be solved by humanizing your business brand and showing the real people behind the scenes.
In recent years there has been an emphasis on interacting with human beings. People complain about automated phone calls, customer service lines, and other non-human interactions, even as we spend most of our time in front of computer screens. The human element is missing in a lot of modern business communication, which is why presenting the human face behind the social media facade is important.
1. Create a Brand Personality and Voice
The best way to begin showing your company’s human face is to create, or deliver, a brand personality. One of my favorite brands is New York Mouth, a food company that outsources gourmet, local food and ships it across the country, and their brand personality is the eccentric foodie. They create advertisements that use puns, display images of their employees taste-testing products, and talk about the social aspect of their business.
They utilize Twitter and Facebook to show their eccentricities, and brand themselves as an indie company which belies their targeted audience. It’s important that you understand your audience and customers and create a brand personality that fits with your demographic. New York Mouth’s eccentric curated items (bacon jam and chocolate kumquat spread) are not going to appeal to everyone and neither are their tweets and updates, but that’s part of their appeal. Find your audience and create a brand voice that suits them.
2. Ask Your Audience Questions
Trying to create tweets and updates that involve a specific voice but also engage the customer is really important. The Cheesecake Factory gets a lot of interaction on social media because it posts appealing pictures of food, but also because it asks its audience questions. Asking your audience a question shows that you are interested in them personally, and responding to feedback helps your brand seem like it values customer input.
3. Relate to Your Customers
Another way to connect with customers is to relate your products to things the customers may be experiencing. For example, New York Mouth will use relevant personal situations to appeal to their customer: “Is your favorite high school/college kid elbow-deep in finals? Send them a little love with our Cram Session Taster.” By using “we” and “us” it helps customers to feel like there are actual people behind their computer screens, and relating their products to situations their customers may be experiencing shows that they care about what’s happening in the customer’s life.
4. Address Customer Concerns
Having a social media strategy for public complaints and concerns is really important, and you can help mediate social media backlash by setting accounts as a first point of customer service interaction. LivingSocial uses Twitter to address customer concerns, and at the beginning of the day, the LivingSocial Twitter customer service representative for that day will introduce themselves and state their hours, again helping clients to feel like there is a human face behind the Twitter.
Responding to customer complaints and concerns also shows that you are concerned about their problems. Using your social media platforms as a way to address customer concerns can feel like a scary thing to do, but if you respond promptly and effectively, it also gives you the opportunity to show potential customers how great your service is. Addressing customers by name and giving the names of the employees helping them can remove some of the anonymity of the Internet and make things feels more personal and comfortable.
5. Acknowledge Customer Compliments
It is not only important that you respond to customer complaints, but acknowledging when people say good things is a really important way to connect too, because it shows that you value the customers’ good input. Saying “thank you” when a customer compliments your services will again make you seem more human and appreciative of their business, so take the time to respond to customers when they are both positive and negative.
There are a number of businesses that use social media really well, and they do this by giving it a human face. You don’t have to appear anonymous on the Internet, and since there are people behind your logo, you should show them. Customers are interested in behind the scenes information, and they want to feel like they are interacting with other humans, not machines. So, don’t forget to add that human touch to your Facebook or Twitter.
Lee, John. “Why Brands Should Be Human on Social Media.” http://mashable.com/2013/04/16/humanize-brand-social/. (10 May, 2013).
Moore, Pam. “20 Tips to Humanize Your Brand.” http://socialmediatoday.com/pammoore/1242011/talk-human-me-20-tips-humanize-your-brand. (10 May, 2013).