Consumers flock to brands that relate and feel human, rather than robotic and stiff. As humans, we want to identify with the brands we have something in common with. We want to imagine a person on the other side of any interaction, and, ultimately, we want to feel good about the brands with which we do business.
In a study conducted by Forrester Consulting, more than 3,000 people took surveys regarding brand humanity and its role on their engagement with a company and their purchase behavior. Results revealed that participants would be nearly twice as likely to feel satisfied and recommend a product or service when they had a brand experience that felt human.
At the same time, marketing strategies and initial touchpoints have become increasingly digital. This can make it difficult for businesses to navigate the fine line between offering the convenience of a digital experience without fully losing the human touch.
From chatbots to virtual sales, how do you retain the human side of your business while marching forward with the technology of the times?
This guide will walk you through how the right marketing strategy should involve a human touch, with examples of how transitioning to digital strategy does not have to result in a loss of humanization for your brand.
One of the best ways to humanize your business while engaging in the digital sphere involves building an active and engaged online social community. Far more than just posting promotions on your brand’s social media platforms, building a community involves engaging with followers and creating a relatable persona.
Do not shy away from allowing your company’s personality to shine through. Rather than creating robotic-type posts with cut-and-dry content, focus on creating a relevant, authentic, and unique brand.
Wendy’s represents a great example of a company that embodied this humanized brand through social media. Their pithy remarks, comical responses, and personality shine through on their Twitter account.
For example, remember when a Wendy’s follower won a year’s worth of free chicken nuggets? Carter Wilkerson asked Wendy’s Twitter account for free nuggets, and Wendy’s responded by throwing down the gauntlet, asking Wilkerson to gather at least 18 million retweets.
While Wilkerson’s tweet didn’t quite hit the 18 million mark, he managed to gain 3.4 million retweets, making this the highest number of retweets in Twitter’s history. In the end, Wendy’s recognized this incredible feat, and Wilkerson still got his year’s supply of free chicken nuggets.
However, Wendy’s remained the real winner in this exchange. Not only because of the attention this post garnered, but because it landed Wendy’s on the top of the list as a relatable business.
Wendy’s didn’t simply signify a place or a robotic Twitter handle operated by a machine, but rather, people started to associate the smiling redhead with real personality.
Another great example is Peloton. They’ve created an Official Peloton Member private group on Facebook where anyone who owns one of their products can join, connect and network with other members. Not only does the group strengthen Peloton’s brand and sense of community but it provides value to its members because they share exercise plans, techniques, schedules, and training methods with each other.
Everyone wants to be on ‘the list” and Peloton created a private community, meaning members need to request access. This is a good tactic when you're trying to create an exclusive experience for customers or members who are invested in your product. The exclusive community adds an element of value to their experience.
While your business might not gain a 3.4 million-retweet frenzy, or you may not have customers looking to engage with your product or services daily - you can still apply the same principles to your business. Decide who you represent as a company and allow that personality to shine through.
Keep in mind that while important to post authentically, you do need to avoid a few don’ts of humanizing your social media channels. Don’t post about religion, politics, or other highly controversial topics that might do more damage to your online reputation than good.
At the same time, if your business lives in a space where taking a stand is important to your audience, you might have to cross those lines. This is where knowing your audience and knowing your brand’s voice is task critical.
Social media — not just a location for your business to share your thoughts and personality — also promotes building a humanized brand by engaging with your followers’ content. The beauty of this tactic remains quite simple.
Take note of your followers and curate content from their posts. A few key rules of curating content from followers include the following:
- Focus on quality content. Sharing your followers’ content involves more than just retweeting and clicking a fast share button. You need to find meaningful content in your specific industry from which your followers will also benefit.
- Always give credit where credit is due. Remember, curating content does not involve stealing content. When you share followers’ content, always give them credit for the work.
- Use curation to fill gaps. Curating content from your followers should not be the bulk of what you post. Instead, use this to fill in gaps in your content calendar.
Content curation helps to create a more robust social media presence while also allowing you to interact with followers in a meaningful way. Showing followers that you pay attention to what they share goes a long way in establishing the human side of your online brand.
One of the easiest ways to remind your customers that your business promotes human values involves sharing the real faces behind your company. Showcase employee photos through your website, through your social media platforms, and throughout your communications.
Additionally, consider sharing video segments on your website and social channels showcasing employees. Employee spotlights reflect a great way to build empathy between your customers and your business.
For example, a quick five-minute interview with your employees covering the following points can add an incredibly authentic and real human element to your business:
- What is your name?
- How long have you worked for this business?
- What is your favorite part about working here?
- If you could tell our customers one thing, what would it be?
Let the personality of your employees shine through. Customers will be able to identify more closely with your brand if they first identify with your staff.
For small business owners, creating a local community connection remains key to adding humanization to your brand. Something as simple as hosting a local high school’s car wash for a weekend or taking your staff for a volunteer day at the local humane society can go a long way in creating a connection between your brand and your community.
However, don’t stop there. Rather than simply getting involved with your community, don’t forget to showcase the relationship you build as well. During your staff volunteer day, snap photos to share on your website. Create social media posts that remind your customers that your business comprises real people.
According to an article by Forbes, 86% of consumers prefer to interact with a human agent and 71% said they would be less likely to use a brand if it didn’t have human customer service representatives available. So what does this mean for the future of chatbots and other Artificial Intelligence (AI) options?
First, it doesn’t mean that you throw away the idea of using a chatbot or implementing AI into your sales flow. But you have to be careful to use AI the right way. A chatbot, for example, can be equipped with the right information to help guide users to what they need. In some cases, that might be a simple resource. In other cases, you must ensure that the chatbot connects your customers to a real person.
The interaction with a chatbot should remain short, seamless, and not the focus of the customer service experience.
When you misuse AI, you can damage the human factor of your business. Before implementing chatbots and other AI solutions, be sure to do it with a detailed strategy backed by strong data and analytics.
Consider how your customers will flow through the system — ensuring they do not feel stuck interacting with a machine. Always ensure the option to reach a real, live person remains available.
Tying all channels together, make sure your overarching marketing strategy includes a focus on humanizing your business. From the way you run your social media accounts, to building your website, to how you market your business locally, look for opportunities to enhance the human side of your brand in all you do.
Ultimately, adding a human element to your marketing strategy and your brand helps improve trust. People inherently will trust a business they personalize with more so than a business they view as stiff and impersonal.
Not only that, but over time, people will start to identify their personality traits with your company. This, in turn, makes choosing your brand become a natural and intuitive action.
From companies such as Wendy’s that use Twitter to build a national persona, to small businesses that showcase their employees, it remains critical for businesses in our digital era to add a human element to their brand — even while embracing a digital presence.
At J&L Marketing, we can assist you as you build out a targeted marketing strategy. Using the right data, we can help you humanize your business as you market your products and/or services. After all, at J&L Marketing, we too, represent a business with real live faces behind everything we do.
We understand just how difficult it can be to remain personable and humanized in an increasingly digital and remote world. We will work with you to showcase the best of your brand while driving the highest marketing reach possible.
Reach out to us today to talk about building a human-driven marketing strategy.