Times change. Things evolve. And business is certainly not exempt from this. In fact, sometimes it’s at the very forefront of change. One of the key shifts in the way we interact with companies and brands now, compared to ten or twenty years ago, is how much of the brand we want to see. I’m not talking products and data here; I am talking real, human, emotional connections. In the digitally-connected world we are living in, it has never been of greater importance to show your brand’s human qualities. Who are you, beyond what you sell or the service you offer?
Human connection is key
In not-so-distant times, companies were all about appearing corporate, somewhat unattainable, and unflawed. Flash-forward to the present day, and customers want to strip away any barriers, they want to connect with brands, trust them, and know them on a much deeper level. So how is this achieved? From a company’s perspective, you need to outwardly promote the human elements of your business: what is day-to-day life like in your offices, who are your employees, and what are their interests? What passions drive your work-ethic, as a company?
Of course, people still want to see professionalism, but the definition of what this means exactly is also evolving. More than anything, consumers are responding to companies whose values and ethics align with their own. Transparency and a human edge are key to drawing in customers in this plugged-in era, that is growing ever more ‘switched on’ by the day.
Following the social trend
When it comes to tools for personalisation, social media is the top dog. As we live our lives much more in the social domain, so too are brands attracted to these platforms, and simply being professional in these social spheres just won’t cut it. Social media is all about individuality, style, and connecting with people. And so brands have to adapt to meet their audience on their social level.
Take, for instance, the largely millennial domain of image-driven Instagram. Any brand churning out product images on a white screen backdrop are not going to do very well on this site, dedicated to exciting and engaging images. The brands that have had the biggest impact and most success on Instagram are those engaging their audience, and putting out stylised, attractive images, funny boomerangs, and building a brand image consistently.
Every brand, large and small
Companies large and small can effectively utilise social media platforms, as well as their own websites, in order to present the most human attributes of their business, and this can be done in a variety of ways. Naturally, young entrepreneurs and emerging startups will take to this style of marketing like a duck to water. Growing up in the digital age, and being a generation engaged in digital media, their company’s use of social media will be a natural progression from their own deep engagement with these same platforms.
For larger, more ‘traditional’ companies, the move might not be quite so seamless, but there is no reason why it can’t be just as easy. Whether social engagement has been an aspect of your business plan from the start, or you are implementing a strategy into a well-established, but not hugely socially engaged brand, the importance of this medium can not, and must not, be overlooked.
Let your personality shine
So, now we have established the importance of personalisation to a brand, the question becomes, “how do we effectively portray this?”. There are a many number of ways but, here, we will go through some of the most effective, and those that have shown positive results for us as a brand as well.
One easy, and key, way to show the human side to your business is to, literally, show the humans integral to your business. Share images and videos from the people who actually make up your company. By introducing your audience to your employees or fellow team mates, you establish a human connection and emotional bond reminiscent of face to face interaction. This can be done in a whole host of ways: take, for instance, our own website, where we have a ‘Meet Us’ page, dedicated to showing the personalities of the people who make Curated what it is. As well as this, sharing behind-the-scenes photos and videos, on your social networks, from your day-to-day routines or special company events works towards the same end goal: exhibiting the human faces that make up your business.
Play the name game
As important as images, sharing a personal touch can be as simple as referring to individual employees by name in communications with your audience. Having certain posts signed off by a specific member of the team creates a connection that your audience may not have otherwise felt towards your brand, with more general company posts. One way in which we do this is through our weekly #CuratedBookClub, where, each week, a member of our team will share their thoughts on the book they are reading that week. Each post for this series names the individual providing their thoughts, introduces them to our followers, and encourages deeper connections throughout our social spheres.
We have previously discussed the merits of planning and scheduling social posts in advance, combined with the insight to know when real-time updates are appropriate. With the hectic schedules that many entrepreneurs and business owners have today, scheduling social media posts in advance can be a much more time-efficient way of regularly keeping your audience’s appetite for content whet. However, it is important to strike the balance between convenience and originality. At a time when consumers are craving transparency in every detail of a business’s activities, engaging on social media in real-time is hugely effective. Whether that is joining in on conversations that are taking place live, or even just Instagramming the happenings in the office at that moment, implementing in-the-moment social engagement shows your audience that you are as human as them.
Watch your tone
Your tone of voice and the way you structure your posts will depend largely on the social site you are posting on, and consistency in your own company’s tone of voice should run through every message. However, using chatty, more informal language on social platforms will give a nice personal touch and fit in much more seamlessly with surrounding social content. Using language that is too business-like may well turn off potential customers, so engage on a level that is in-line with the platform, and the audience you are targeting.
Showing your brand’s personality, and engaging with your audience on a human level will ultimately build trust, emotional engagement, and a deeper connection between you and your customers. In today’s business and social climates, a key part of success and sales, over and above simple product quality, is a strong bond with your customers, word-of-mouth marketing, authenticity, and common values between you and your audience.
If you would like to find out more about how you can connect with your customers on a more human level, or need help implementing any other social strategies, give us a shout.