I am often asked “How do I build my brand, sell my product, and grow my audience simultaneously?” Aside from shamelessly plugging my hardworking team, my advice is usually to start with trust. In a sea of options, you need to give your target market a reason to choose you over the other guy. I realize this may sound like an extraordinarily difficult task, but, it can be quiet easy – and fun! The secret is adding a personal touch to your marketing message by humanizing your brand. The more transparent you are around your brand, the more the product will sell itself and in-turn create brand advocates who will translate their experience through reviews, referrals, and word of mouth, all of which will grow your audience.
One of the easiest ways to humanize your brand is through social media. This effective method is where you can engage with your target market and allow customers to get a closer look at your brand. The following are a few methods for you to implement when utilizing social media to humanize your brand.
Share Valuable Content and Engage with Your Audience
If people are following you it’s because they want to hear what you have to say. Be sure whatever you’re posting, be it curated content, original content, or some sort of combination of both, it is relevant to your audience. Your posts should engage them, inspire them, and encourage them to share with their own followers.
Respond to your followers - Interaction will add a human touch that will pull them towards your brand.
@Wendys has #nailed this concept - tell me you follow them on Twitter!
Add outside value - Listen and learn to discover what your followers are interested in, then follow their lead.
They want to be heard - Encourage them to share their own fan stories about your brand or product.
Connect with them emotionally - Through excitement, heart warming, sadness, or tasteful humor.
What it boils down to is this, let them know you hear them, it will go a long way toward building positive rapport on social media platforms.
Be Transparent in Sharing Your Story
Your brand has a story. Whether it’s the company name, the product, or the adventure that got you to where you are today, sharing this story is a great way to humanize your brand. And, if you recently made a mistake, consider sharing that too. Acknowledging it and being transparent enough to do so helps build trust with your customers. Letting them know what you’re doing to a fix a problem and owning up to it will keep your followers loyal. After all, making mistakes is human. Take KFC for example, they ran out of chicken and they owned it! This type of transparency creates a sense of likability and gives people a reason why they should follow and support you, even if you have to wait a few days for some chicken.
Remember to always come back to the “why” behind what you do and the reason or reasons that fuel you to keep going.
Stay True to Your Brand “Self”
Everyone tries to be too cool for school on social media, but staying true to yourself is the best way to go. This is even true when it comes to your brand. Though it may sound a bit cliché, just be yourself and people will like you. Open up and be willing to allow others to connect with you by letting them be part of your journey.
Be humble enough to share everything – even the mistakes you’ve made along the way. This will not only create interesting content, but hearing your struggles will help your audience see just how big your “wins” really are at this part of your journey.
Focus on Building Relationships by Utilizing Social Media
Social media is constantly evolving. Trends and even lingo changes from one platform to the next (and even one day to the next!) so do your best to keep up. There are definitely things that can be annoying to your followers and they wish you would stop doing, but if your focus is on relationship building, you can easily avoid those things.
Encourage your followers to follow you on all your accounts as some platforms are better for certain types of storytelling. A video post might work better on Facebook than Instagram, but a picture may resonate more with your followers on Instagram. Play around with it and focus on what works best. When in doubt, simply connect with your audience in the same way as you would connect with your family or friends.
Social media is a highly beneficial and essential tool to interact with your audience, so it’s worth putting in the time to get to know what works best while staying on a personal level as much as possible.
Take Your Followers Behind the Scenes
You know the importance of sharing your story, but sharing what happens behind the scenes is another great opportunity to highlight everything from production, strategy planning, and team members. Share stories that help your audience get a deeper look into where your products or ingredients come from. You could also share stories that speak to team members’ recent accomplishments or volunteer services. Adobe does this will on their, Adobe Life blog page, where they give a glimpse into their team members careers with the company.
Giving a behind the scenes look is a surprisingly fun way to engage your audience and there’s no doubt they will be interested in seeing this other side, the human side, of your brand.
Show Your Gratitude
Your brand is largely what it is today thanks to your customers. They are the ones buying your product or service and loving everything about it. Share the love and show your gratitude by regularly and consistently saying thanks for their support. Whether they know it or not, your audience is subconsciously invested in your success, so seeing their own role in where you stand is much treasured. And besides, who doesn’t like to feel appreciated? Offer discounts, deals or simply just say, “Thanks.”
Once in a while surprise customers. Everybody loves surprises – especially from people we like. You can make your audience happy by treating them to something special or getting them excited about something coming up in the future. Just like your living, breathing followers, they want to know your brand has a human side too.
There are so many ways to utilize social media to humanize your brand. Social media marketing in and of itself is all about engaging with your target audience, connecting at a personal level, and building trust. If you do this effectively, you’ll see just how quickly and smoothly your audience will grow and how your loyal customers will find their voice as brand advocates.