It's easy to get caught up in the day to day tasks and content strategy that faces a community manager when they wake up in the morning. However, despite the content strategy challenges and day to day customer interactions, there is one thing I try to keep in the back of my mind: surprise and delight. It's simple but I believe it's effective. In addition to content strategy, brand voice, consistent messaging etc etc etc I try and look at each response to fans as from a human being and not a task on a checklist. Every person who posts on a client's Facebook wall or sends an @ reply on Twitter is searching for some sort of personal interaction with that brand (some do just want free stuff but that's a post for another day). I look at those people as someone's mom, dad or sibling and not an avatar with text. I know when a brand or some other large persona online responds to my mom on Facebook or Twitter, it totally makes her day. I'm sure that would hold true for many other people. I've seen how jumping in on brand-related chatter on Twitter will catch a lot of people by surprise and bring just a nanosecond of fun to their day (I know this from observing the retweets those responses receive).
My main goal? If I can try and make someone's day online with just one simple piece of engagement or response, I feel like that's a good place to start. As long as I'm staying within the same brand voice and tone while doing so, it's an effective engagement strategy. Making each brand I work on appear as human as possible brings people back to those pages. Even trying to positively respond to negative comments and apologizing for any grievance a fan may have speaks wonders to other fans simply observing the conversation. That constant build up of trust will help empower other fans to borderline manage the community on your behalf and come to your defense when things don't go right.
That's just my two cent ramble for the morning. How important do you think it is to humanize a brand?