Humanizing Your Brand

Social media has done more than just change the way friends and family communicate with each other.

Social media has changed the way businesses communicate with their customers. It no longer is enough to simply provide an exceptional product or service. In today’s social media as word-of-mouth society, businesses have to – if they haven’t already – get on board and online in order to attract, retain, and grow customer relationships.

Dubbed the “Thank You” economy by Gary Vaynerchuk, marketers are quickly realizing that business is coming full circle. What this means is that, with the rise of the Internet and social media sites, consumers’ virtual voices are becoming increasingly more influential and businesses are listening to their comments, complaints, and suggestions. Now, more than ever, it is imperative to think of how you can humanize your company – your brand – in a way that shows your customers you are more than just a brick and mortar storefront.

Do you know your customers? Where do they hang out? What do they like to do when they’re not at work? Moreover, what do you like to do when you’re not at work? What do your employees do outside of work? What are their hobbies? In what types of events and nonprofits are you and/or your employees involved? Humanizing your brand is about creating a relationship. And it’s about creating more than just a business relationship. Think about your favorite restaurant or your favorite local hang-out. What is it about that place that you like? Is it the comfortable chairs or the aesthetics? Is it the convenience and proximity to your home? Chances are, it is your favorite place because of the relationships you have with the people who work there, right? As we are learning with the increasing use of social media, your business also has the ability to be your customers’ favorite place to hang out via its use of social media. As a matter of fact, a recent study shows that 50% of consumers believe a company’s Facebook page is more valuable and useful than its website.

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As a marketer, how do you convey the importance of implementing social media into your company’s marketing strategy? While social media is something in which most of us engage everyday, many businesses still do not perceive a value in establishing and maintaining a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or LinkedIn page. In presenting a marketing strategy to your company that encompasses social media, try utilizing a variety of social media sites and marketing tactics, such as:

  • Use Twitter to more quickly respond to customer complaints, questions, and issues.
  • Build brand loyalty, such as Coca-Cola has done with Facebook, encouraging fans to share their stories from around the world.
  • Instead of press releases, utilize Twitter and blog posts to announce a new product release or new addition to your team.
  • Don’t re-invent the wheel – simply re-purpose your existing content, and thus enlarge your audience, such as Holland-Mark does with SlideShare.
  • Wikipedia is a hidden gem when it comes to managing your online reputation like Barnes & Noble does with its Wikipedia page.
  • Create and maintain a blog on your company’s website to conduct crisis communication.
  • Create advertising opportunities via video posts on YouTube.
  • Showcase your wares, as Amazon does with its Pinterest page, and use Twitter to boost your sales.
  • Use LinkedIn and Twitter to recruit employees and advertise job postings.

Here’s the bottom line: your customers – current and future – are using social media. Your marketing strategy should consist of, at minimum, two social media vehicles to enhance your company’s presence in our ever-growing virtual world. Social media has put the term “instant gratification” on steroids in terms of what people want when they want it.

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And what people want is to feel like they are communicating with more than just a storefront. They want to know that they are dealing with humans who have more than a monetary interest in their lives. People want to know that their comments, complaints, and suggestions are being heard. If you do not provide a social media vehicle for them to communicate with you, they will find an avenue where they can talk about you.

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