When social media first became a business thing, marketers became obsessed with humanizing your brand. Now, instead of corporate speak and polished advertising copy, brands could now converse with individuals as if they were having small talk on their morning train commute.
Is anyone fooled by that? Do brands want to be our friends?
We've seen political speeches and Supreme Court cases in the last couple of years argue about whether or not corporations were people. Most of the (online) public argued that corporations were indeed NOT people. So why would we believe different online?
I argue that we don't. I'm all for humanizing a brand, but I think we have been looking at it the wrong way.
How could we humanize brands? Use real humans.
It's easy to talk about influencer marketing. We like to give presentations on how certain brands have "personality." However, I believe the greatest untapped social influencers are a company's employees. Adding a face to a brand makes us feel an emotional connection (or at least increases the odds of that happening).
Brands like Southwest use their employees in commercials all the time. It makes us feel like we aren't flying with a faceless corporate logo, but with the fun flight attendants or luggage handlers we see on TV. Other brands even do "Day in the life" content on Instagram, following an employee around for a day.
I think efforts like this are a great start, but I believe they could be taken a step further.
What about empowering employee ambassadors? Instead of viewing your workers as potential liabilities, what if you turned them into assets? I've helped some organizations lead training with their staff on social media use. Sure, we covered some of the pitfalls and watch-outs that come with social use. But we also talk about ways that they could talk about their job online. Ways they could show the cool things they were working on and be digital mouthpieces for the brand that signs their paycheck.
If your employees are talking about your brand, what ways could the actual corporate account interact with those posts? Things like retweeting posts from one employee about a cool project or another sharing a day in their life as a _________ would put a human face to the brand.
I recognize that this may not work for every company. Using employee advocates online, in a risk-reduced way, would require an investment and training. However, I think the rewards could be great...unless your company is a terrible place work (then you may not like any of the posts...but they're probably happening anyway).
Humanizing a brand is much more than a brand posting something in a conversational tone that elicits some emotional response. That's just good ad copywriting.
Humanizing a brand requires...you know...humans.
What other ways could you attempt to humanize a brand? What good examples could you share?