All of us have a list of our favourite brands – they can be the clothes you wear, the food you eat, or even the celebrities you gawk at on your Instagram feed (yes, they're a brand too).
But how have these brands earned their special places in our hearts? How have they managed to not just maintain, but also reinforce our love and loyalty with each interaction?
Digital marketing has since replaced traditional marketing (billboards, television, print) as the de facto marketing strategy for almost all brands out there. Any company would have, at the very least, a website, Facebook page and some experience with digital ads in one way or another.
While this may offer an unprecedented level of engagement and interactivity between brands and consumers, most businesses actually end up missing out on the opportunity to do so – big time.
That person-to-person connection is achieved through more than just a series of Facebook posts, targeted ads and giveaway contests. These may garner you a decent following and couple hundreds of ‘likes’ on your Facebook feed – but do they really mean anything?
What matters here is being Human.
Even for traditionally unengaging brands, such as complicated science-y stuff to the branding of entire countries, the biggest successes (in terms of engagement) in recent memory are those that adopted befitting personas. Not only that, but they’ve also invested time and resources to interact with their fans (consumers or otherwise) on a personal level. Gone are the days of mega-behemoths talking about how great they are. Brands of today need our help to spread the word on how great they are.
Naturally, consumers’ expectations have also since been raised, and interactions between brand and consumer are quickly becoming (and are expected to be) even more personal and genuine now. These days, simply having opinions on recent events, empathy towards tragedies, and fluency in emoji is not enough.
There’s no better or important time than now to embrace being human – but how? Here are 7 quick tips for your brand to start being humanised!
Be that crazy stalker friend ... who's not too creepy.
We’d want to understand our fans, but in ways much deeper than just their age, gender and geographical location. We need to understand their motivations, interests, activities, opinions, preferences, behaviours – basically an idea of who they are and how they are in real life. We must know, at the back of our hands, the time they browse the web, the things that makes them laugh, the videos that they’d share on their timeline, and the promotions that would get them all fired up.
The better we understand our consumer, the more natural our interactions will be with them.
When Mike McCready, a social media professional, Instagrammed a picture of the ugly view from his hotel room during his #PSEWEB conference in Vancouver, he did not tag the hotel, nor was he asking for anything in particular. Yet within the next hour, Delta, the hotel in question, reached out to him via Twitter and offered to switch rooms for him. When responding that he was checking out the next day and did not want to go through the trouble of switching room, Delta instead, sent him some snacks as a nice gesture.
The takeaway: Listen to the conversations going on about your brand, especially those that do not tag you!
Be a good host ... and entertain your fans.
Consumers these days have little to no reason, or obligation to stay around if there isn’t anything that they fancy. Coupled with shortening attention spans and a thousand and one things grabbing for their attention, we’d want to provide as much value as possible during their stay, however short it may be. The main actionable here is to provide value – make them feel at home and entertain them.
With evolving content types and preferences, videos have been proven to be a great way to keep their attention captive, especially with the exceptional growth seen on platforms such as Facebook (EIGHT billion views a day!) and Instagram. The average user of today is exposed to an average of 32.3 videos in a month, and almost a third of all online activity is spent watching videos. With staggering statistics like that, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be on video yet!
In 2010, liquid paper brand Tipp-Ex launched an interactive, out-of-the-box Youtube campaign that features a video called ‘A hunter shoots a bear’. In the video, the hunter yells “Hey! I don’t wanna shoot this bear!” and reaches out of the screen, grabs a Tipp-Ex Whiteout Pocket Mouse and whites out the word “shoots” from the title. Viewers are then invited to write whatever they want into the whited-out area of the web interface and they will be sent to another video where the hunter does EXACTLY what the user wrote. That's entertainment right there (trust us, we spent lots of time on this video...).
Live in the moment ... literally.
With the maturation of social media, many have commented that the distance between consumer and brand is as close as it gets. These days, new toys such as Live Videos and VR narrow the gap even further, allowing brands to engage in real-time, up-close engagement. Here's a stat to back that up - people spend three times as long watching Live videos compared to pre-shot ones. Gone are the days of pre-scheduled posts and carefully-etched copy – consumers appreciate a brand genuine in wanting to engage its consumers.
Also, brands do not operate in a silo. Current events, local or global, have ripples on your brand no matter how far away they may seem. Acknowledging these events help your consumers make sense of that – that they exist in the same realm as you do. This further positions your brand as a fellow human being, one that has its own opinions, and is interested in the same topics as them.
Benefit Cosmetics streams a Live Video on Facebook each Thursday where they run a show called "Tipsy Tricks with Benefit!". There will be a fresh topic each week, and the hosts would answer their live viewers' questions and dispense advice. All while sitting back and sipping some wine. “It is utility-meets-fun-meets-banter,” said Claudia Allwood, senior director of U.S. digital marketing at Benefit cosmetics. “We have a talk-show vibe, but we’re not talking to you, not at you"
Don't be afraid to show your personality ... there's nothing to hide.
Having a personality is more than just defining the tonality of the copy or the types of visuals you post up. Show your human side by sharing more about your day – embracing emotions such as happiness, excitement and even frustrations.
Social media is full of noise, and it’s only going to get noisier. While most brands might opt for the safer side, adopting a cheery, bubbly personality, the way to stand out from all the chatter is to embrace a full spectrum of emotions. Sulk a little when Mondays arrive, and let your frustrations be felt when Team Singapore doesn’t get a medal. Always remember – you’re human too!
Mr Taco Bell here is definitely the cool, funny guy you'd want to hang out with. Just look at their Twitter conversations!
@OldSpice Is your deodorant made with really old spices?— Taco Bell (@tacobell) July 9, 2012
@RadioMoBounce Only 1 point? We'll try harder next time.— Taco Bell (@tacobell) July 11, 2012
The takeaway: It's not what you say, it's how you see it.
Use social media for its intended purpose ... not as a bulletin board.
Digital platforms are geared for interactions – comment boxes, feeds, personal messages – yet brands often use them as mere publishing tools instead. Users go onto social media for one purpose; to connect with people they know, and not with businesses and brands.
Facebook was designed for us to showcase our digital personality, with profile pictures showing how fun we are, and funny cat videos adorned on our timelines. But how are your brands using it? As a medium to simply post about your latest promotions three times a week?
Social media has spawned certain terms that have since become common speech – such as #tbt, #flashbackfridays. Speak the speak of your target audience, even if it means going out of your way to get your copy game on point!
Create conversations ... talk about anything under the sun.
While conversations about your company and industry are important, it shouldn’t just be about me, myself and I. Talk about the topics your brand persona would at the office watercooler – the latest news, TV shows, or last night’s game. Give a little wink and a nod to your fans by incorporating references, and form up your own little insider’s circle.
It shouldn’t just be between you and your consumers, though – create conversations with other brands too! It’s a great way to create connections, engagement and let loose with a little banter.
By having your brand be yourself, you’ll help people feel comfortable and have them let loose! You shouldn’t just be sharing about your day to them – you’d want them to be at ease sharing about theirs to you too.
Don't take everything so seriously ... let go and just laugh.
Humour is programmed into each and every one of us – and it works great as a means to connect people quickly. Laughing together breaks down boundaries, bringing your brand from being a corporation to a regular guy who finds humour in dad jokes.
Even for you guys in B2B industries – while jargon-laden copy can get your points across in a concise manner, there’s no way technical babble can get your messages to stick. Find ways to infuse humour into your content once in a while, and do your research to find out what makes your audience laugh (Puns? Slapstick? A particular presidential candidate?). It’ll certainly capture your consumers' attention, get them talking, and make your brand stand out more.
Ever bring your own Oreo cookies to the movie theater? #slicksnacker— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) September 25, 2012
@sleeeping ha! how'd you do that?— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) September 26, 2012
While these are just some quick tips, there are, of course, deeper ways for your brand to embrace its human side.
It’s tough identifying where your brand falls short exactly, especially when you’re in too deep (and trying to keep). That’s why we’ve come up with this simple quiz to help get you started!
In just under five minutes, you’ll be able to get a better understanding on where your brand currently stands, and how you can further humanise your touch points with your consumers!