Simply having a social media presence is now like being a C- student. Social media has become such a permanent and vital part of business that the bar is being raised daily. When you consider that 81% of U.S. internet users, age 14+, browsed or researched products online in 2012, it makes sense to spend some time on your social media presence. Humanization of a brand fosters more intimate brand-customer communications, customer loyalty, growth through feedback and increased engagement. Humanizing your brand through social media is a deliberate and thoughtful process that yields some great benefits.
1) Alright, Who’s Got a Plan?
This whole process begins with a clearly defined brand and strategy. This means nailing down an honest assessment of the organization’s culture and values and blending it with how the organization would like to be perceived. Building a brand isn’t simply establishing cultural transparency; it should also be what keeps the organization on target to becoming the organization they wish to be.
In establishing a brand, consider how your competitors are branding themselves; what is working for them and what isn’t; and what makes you different from them. You should also keep in mind how you don’t want to be perceived, and actively combat that image.
2) Find Your Ambassadors
A social media professional isn’t hard to come by, a good social media professional is. The whole point is to steer away from the social media robot who fills up a buffer and let’s the technology do the work. Humanization of a brand is about personalization.
Here’s a tip I found useful from my friend at Media-Minded.co.uk. Look for talent who thrive on creating relationships. That is who you need leading the humanization of your brand. They should be outgoing, pithy, smart and genuine. Hiring the right people and making policies clear is the groundwork for a good team to humanize your brand.
3) Turn the Stage Over to the Audience
Humanization through social media gives organizations a chance to engage in two-way dialogue. Until now, organizations have been talking at their audience. Now it’s time for them to listen. Improvement and growth happen through feedback and communication. Document relevant comments, concerns and praise. There is a lot to be learned from your audience.
4) Fix Things, and Fix them Fast
We’ve all seen humanization of a brand via social media go terribly awry. Regardless of the caliber of ambassador/social media expert you have hired, when the public turns, the situation needs to be handled with kid gloves.
Reputation.com gives us some great guidelines for social media reputation management:
- Document but don’t delete. You’ve signed up for this whole social media thing and whole point is to hear and be heard. Taking away your customer or employee’s right to be heard is almost always met with hostility.
- Respond rapidly and individually. If all of the information isn’t present, let them know that someone is looking into the situation. These people just want to be acknowledged, that’s why they’re posting.
- Never engage in an argument and apologize when necessary. This seems common sense, but engaging in a debate online has lead to the demise of many a brand. It is easy to switch to defense mode when things get heated, but never engage. The world is watching.
- Make it better. It should be made crystal clear to the ambassadors what they can and should be offering in order to rectify the problem. If they aren’t given discretionary authority, they can do little to fix the situation. Additionally, it will slow down the whole rectifying process.
5) You Have to Give if You Want to Take
Again, the whole point is fostering a two-way dialogue. If you want something from them, you have to give them something. Constantly begging for likes and follows is a virtual turn-off. Following back, automatic entrance in a contest or personal recognition of the communication are easy ways to engage customers and employees.
6) Don’t Bore Them!
Give them a reason to be engaged. Posting to post is a waste of keystrokes. According to brand marketer, Anson Sowby, “Brands should only reach out to consumers when there is something meaningful to say, otherwise they’ll tire us out.”
The strategy should always be quality over quantity. It is so easy to block, unfriend and unfollow. Taking up a newsfeed with irrelevant or uninteresting content is the fastest way to make that happen.
Each interaction is a chance get deeper with your audience. Generic posts and responses aren’t cutting it anymore. Some leaders in online humanization of their brand have set the bar for everyone. This two way street is an opportunity for everyone. A more intimate dialogue and instant feedback foster customer loyalty and employee engagement. Social media gives customers and employees a voice, humanization on the organization’s side, makes sure that voice is heard.