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Five Ways to Humanize Your Brand In Social Media

By: Guest | August 4, 2011 | 
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Today’s guest post is written by Tammy Kahn Fennell.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to get real. In order to maintain relevance in the social world, brands have to interact with their community in a way that is organic and unquestioningly human.

This is not easy for everyone, and many brands still don’t get it. Customers are savvy about your “realness” and they know when you are trying too hard.

So what does it mean exactly to humanize your brand, and how can you do it a real and natural way?

Five Ways to Humanize Your Brand

  1. Understand the brand. Understand the vision, and the culture. You’ve been hired to handle the social media, so hopefully you are already a cultural fit. Get in the heads of the company leadership. Start by observing; watch the online community and gauge the public perception. The better and more intimate your grasp of these things, the better you can communicate its message in a natural way. Be the personal extension of the brand personality.
  2. Be short and sweet. Your job is to figure out how to turn a corporate announcement into interesting content. You are competing for attention and time. Honor that and tell your story in a meaningful, but pointed way. Each social media channel has its unique constraints and requires different execution. Translate that story into a variety of digestible points for the various outlets.
  3. Don’t be afraid to get playful. Consistency of messaging is important, but don’t let that stand in the way of being conversational. It’s easy to fall into the “corporate messaging” trap. Social media offers a unique way to get a little playful with a brand. Make sure you know your audience so you can judge the appropriateness. Do this with caution. Remember the sarcastic quip from the disssatisfied customer of a major airlines that received an inappropriately playful response from the staff. Know the context. Pay attention, and if appropriate, have fun.
  4. A picture is worth a thousand words. Show your message. Posting relevant photos adds a nice human element to the brand. The Next Web has found that their Facebook updates with photos receive 300 percent more engagement than text-only updates. Photos can range from employees in action at work to showing events, conferences, or anything the brand may be involved in. You may want to let the community do the “shooting” for you by encouraging fans and followers to submit their own pictures of the brand in use. St. Helen’s Farm, a milk brand in the UK encourages customers to submit photos of themselves drinking their milk along with their own story. The company publishes many of these photos on the back of the milk carton.
  5. Start conversations. It’s Twitter’s mantra: “Join the Conversation,” yet so many ignore it. Social media is called social for a reason. Get in the trenches and talk with the people who you are trying to target. You’d be surprised how responsive someone is to a simple @reply on twitter, or a comment on a Facebook post, and how many brands allow mentions of their company to go without response. Don’t miss an opportunity to engage when someone is already talking to you. Go beyond that and also engage with potential customers.
    • Ask questions: Can you resist a question? It’s almost human nature to want to answer a question. Especially when you give your audience the opportunity to talk about themselves.
    • Be useful: People are on social media to find answers. If you monitor properly, and you solve someone’s problem, they will forever be endeared to you and your brand.

A final note: Before you hit the publish button, read it out loud and ask yourself if it sounds natural: “Would I say this in real life?”

The more you can get in there and interact (humanize your brand), the further you can spread your message. Social media is inherently viral. Plant enough seeds out there, be helpful, fun, entertaining and real, and your efforts will grow exponentially over time.

Tammy Kahn Fennell is the  co-founder of the social media marketing dashboard, MarketMeSuite.com. She also runs WeAreSocialPeople.com, the community driven blog, by MarketMeSuite users, for the world.

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85 Comments on "Five Ways to Humanize Your Brand In Social Media"

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leaderswest
leaderswest
5 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich Awesome share Gini, thank you!

paigeworthy
5 years 1 month ago

FABULOUS.

TammyKFennell
TammyKFennell
5 years 1 month ago

Thanks so much for posting! Happy to contribute!

-Tammy, CEO marketmesuite

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 1 month ago

@leaderswest Of course!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 1 month ago

@leaderswest Of course!

darkrishabh
darkrishabh
5 years 1 month ago

@AskAaronLee check out wallhood.com, might be of some interest

darkrishabh
darkrishabh
5 years 1 month ago

@AskAaronLee check out wallhood.com, might be of some interest

KenMueller
5 years 1 month ago

I love point #3. so many times we approach Social Media with the seriousness of some kind of major ad copy or an editorial. I think the key to “being playful” is to be yourself. And hopefully, there is a bit of playful in there. People will recognize what is genuine and will appreciate that.

KenMueller
5 years 1 month ago

I love point #3. so many times we approach Social Media with the seriousness of some kind of major ad copy or an editorial. I think the key to “being playful” is to be yourself. And hopefully, there is a bit of playful in there. People will recognize what is genuine and will appreciate that.

FUcK__0_0__YoU
FUcK__0_0__YoU
5 years 1 month ago

Whats your favorite position?? @AskAaronLee

FUcK__0_0__YoU
FUcK__0_0__YoU
5 years 1 month ago

Whats your favorite position?? @AskAaronLee

NancyD68
5 years 1 month ago

I am not allowed to be playful at all, which misses the point of social media I think. We do need to be serious about certain things, but when we are so serious all the time, it becomes just broadcasting. At that rate, you don’t need to be on social media, you just need to crank out press releases.

NancyD68
5 years 1 month ago

I am not allowed to be playful at all, which misses the point of social media I think. We do need to be serious about certain things, but when we are so serious all the time, it becomes just broadcasting. At that rate, you don’t need to be on social media, you just need to crank out press releases.

SusanGilbert
SusanGilbert
5 years 1 month ago

@PamMktgNut Thanks for sharing this, Pam :}.

SusanGilbert
SusanGilbert
5 years 1 month ago

@PamMktgNut Thanks for sharing this, Pam :}.

Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence)

@NancyD68 You don’t need to be playful to be human. If it’s not in your nature to do it then don’t. Similarly, you are so right that if there is no place for playfulness then trying it can look really tacky and distasteful.

Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence)
Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence)
5 years 1 month ago

#3 and #5 – I struggle talking to a logo in all honesty – it annoys the hell out of me. HOW do I start a conversation with a brand name and a logo? As a consumer you CAN’T. You don’t feel like you are being taken seriously which is why many brands email you from X person. Humanising a brand goes beyond these 5 points – giving a face on social media to the person who can held accountable is priceless – it’s too hard to hold a corp accountable.

Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence)
Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence)
5 years 1 month ago

#3 and #5 – I struggle talking to a logo in all honesty – it annoys the hell out of me. HOW do I start a conversation with a brand name and a logo? As a consumer you CAN’T. You don’t feel like you are being taken seriously which is why many brands email you from X person. Humanising a brand goes beyond these 5 points – giving a face on social media to the person who can held accountable is priceless – it’s too hard to hold a corp accountable.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 1 month ago

Tammy, thank you so much for a much-needed blog post! One of my favorite thing to say to clients is, “When you go to a cocktail party, do you walk up to someone and say, ‘I sell widgets. You should buy my widgets.’?” They start to get it at that point. Or they just roll their eyes at me.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 1 month ago

@NancyD68 But I’ve never seen you serious! 🙂

SpinSucks
SpinSucks
5 years 1 month ago

@JWeekz yep. @marketmesuite did a great job.

Lisa Gerber
5 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich @NancyD68 I’ve never seen you serious either but @ameena is right. If it’s not in your nature, don’t do it. That goes against the very grain of this post, in fact.

Lisa Gerber
5 years 1 month ago

@Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence) I agree. The avatar is something that merits discussion. For larger corporations it may make sense to have the logo especially when a variety of people may be manning the account. I like when they include that in the bio and when someone “comes on duty” and sort of introduces themselves or announces their arrival. That can be a good workaround.

Lisa Gerber
5 years 1 month ago

@Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence) I agree. The avatar is something that merits discussion. For larger corporations it may make sense to have the logo especially when a variety of people may be manning the account. I like when they include that in the bio and when someone “comes on duty” and sort of introduces themselves or announces their arrival. That can be a good workaround.

Lisa Gerber
5 years 1 month ago

@Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence) I agree. The avatar is something that merits discussion. For larger corporations it may make sense to have the logo especially when a variety of people may be manning the account. I like when they include that in the bio and when someone “comes on duty” and sort of introduces themselves or announces their arrival. That can be a good workaround.

HowieSPM
HowieSPM
5 years 1 month ago
Hi Tammy love this post. But @ginidietrich didn’t warn you that I am a data hound. I will elaborate on number 4. The data from Netweb is bad. It gives no numbers just a Percentage increase. Typical marketer smoke and mirrors. Did it go from 1 click to 4 clicks? Of from 1000 to 4000? Big difference and they purposefully omitted that stuff from the graph. That said I run a page for a client and I post photos/fliers on the Facebook page then use the link to the photos on Twitter. We get exponential traffic from twitter to the… Read more »
HowieSPM
HowieSPM
5 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich how come you haven’t bought any widgets from me in months?

HowieSPM
HowieSPM
5 years 1 month ago
@Lisa Gerber@ameena Funny you bring this up. @markwschaefer convinced me to get rid of my Alien Avatar and be my face. I will always be in debt to him and dragging him into blog comments because of this. But there are times this is incorrect. One reason I loathe Mashable is the Pete Cashmore mugshot that won’t go away on the Twitter. Yes I hate them. Yes I was banned from commenting under SkyPulseMedia’s twitter handle for always slamming their poor reporting. But that mug is not mashable. everyone knows their logo and they are a faceless entity in my… Read more »
HowieSPM
HowieSPM
5 years 1 month ago

@Lisa Gerber@ginidietrich@NancyD68@ameena Nancy I suggest you stand on your desk and yell YAHTZEE! or JENGA! at the top of your lungs while doing a VLOG. It works! How do you think bdorman264 got his start in VLOGing

bdorman264
bdorman264
5 years 1 month ago

@skypulsemedia Cool beans

bdorman264
5 years 1 month ago

@HowieSPM@Lisa Gerber@ginidietrich@NancyD68@ameena But I was serious when I got started in Vlogging; there is a time and place for everything and sometimes there is just too much frivolity going on and it’s best to save that for FB. Twitter is serious and strictly business…….

RyanCritchett
5 years 1 month ago

I really really align with understanding the brand. It’s like.. you’re an extension of the brain of the company. Huge deal. And yep, pictures really bond people. I’m fascinated by that. It’s soooo human.

YasinAkgun
5 years 1 month ago

Couldn’t agree with the 5 ways more. I especially like the question “would I say this in real life”. Very true and I extend it to writing articles or spreading ideas online. And commenting too. In fact, I wish more people would ask themselves that question when commenting.

JayDolan
5 years 1 month ago
I wouldn’t say these tips make a brand more human. This post could be titled as “Five tips to elicit more engagement.” or “FIve tips to increase your comments” and they would still be an appropriate and effective post. These are five tactics to elicit engagement in a manner that is more accessible. As you said, most of it is the performance of turning corporate speak into something that an average human might consider reading and responding to. It’s near impossible to make something that is inhuman (a corporation) into something that resembles a human being. If anything, it is… Read more »
hamlernwoa8
hamlernwoa8
5 years 1 month ago
TammyKFennell
TammyKFennell
5 years 1 month ago
@JayDolan I disagree. I think that if a corporation works hard at connecting more directly, it gives them a distinctly human quality. For example, the other day I realized my credit APR wasn’t comparable to that of mastercard. I tweeted askamex and a person replied back, almost instantly, asking me to DM them with more details. Within a few hours the APR issue was resolved and I was one happy customer. I totally agree with your statement: “When people realize they are talking to human beings not logos or avatars that is when a brand stops being a brand and… Read more »
TammyKFennell
TammyKFennell
5 years 1 month ago

@HowieSPM@ginidietrich Hi Howie! Next time I’ll go into the data more for you 😉

TammyKFennell
TammyKFennell
5 years 1 month ago

@Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence) It’s definitely a hard thing to do for a larger brand. In my comment above, I think American Express does it right by having a special twitter account just for engaging. askamex is a lot less scary than trying to tweet the big juggernaut american express!

TammyKFennell
TammyKFennell
5 years 1 month ago

@Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence) It’s definitely a hard thing to do for a larger brand. In my comment above, I think American Express does it right by having a special twitter account just for engaging. askamex is a lot less scary than trying to tweet the big juggernaut american express!

TammyKFennell
TammyKFennell
5 years 1 month ago

@Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence) It’s definitely a hard thing to do for a larger brand. In my comment above, I think American Express does it right by having a special twitter account just for engaging. askamex is a lot less scary than trying to tweet the big juggernaut american express!

TammyKFennell
TammyKFennell
5 years 1 month ago

@RyanCritchett Totally. At MarketMeSuite we launched http://phto.me for that reason – to encourage our business users to connect with pictures 🙂

churapeszcevq7
churapeszcevq7
5 years 1 month ago

@SheTroublshoots http://tinyurl.com/3nfmlmb

TammyKFennell
TammyKFennell
5 years 1 month ago

@Lisa Gerber@ameena One thing we’ve found works great is to have a logo in the corner of a picture of a human. My tammykfennell twitter account, and our community manager nikki__peters and our CTO wuup all have a little logo next to our pic.

Wuup
Wuup
5 years 1 month ago

@TammyKFennell you did? wow thank you ^AH

seanrieger
seanrieger
5 years 1 month ago

@jenniferwindrum Good article. Many fail to understand that listening is just as important as speaking, when it comes to social media.

TammyKFennell
TammyKFennell
5 years 1 month ago

@Wuup no prob bob ^TKF

TammyKFennell
TammyKFennell
5 years 1 month ago

@Wuup and dont try to convo this i accidentally deleted the original tweet ^TKF

jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem
5 years 1 month ago

@Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence) I have to say, I fought to use a picture at work (instead of a logo) and was shot down. I understand the concern – it’s “who should be the face of CT Health?” additionally, I’ve got another co-worker who likes to tweet (yes!). We both include our initials with every tweet so people know there’s a person there.

TammyKFennell
TammyKFennell
5 years 1 month ago

@jennwhinnem@Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence) Yes, adding a signature is a great way to humanize! http://phto.me/024b5

RyanCritchett
5 years 1 month ago

@TammyKFennell That’s pretty darn awesome.

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