You cannot read a marketing or social media blog today without stumbling across the advice: “humanize your brand.” The advice is certainly not a new concept to marketing, but one that has had new importance breathed into it in the face of the ever-evolving digital relationships businesses have with their customers.
It’s the grand paradox of digital and social communications; we’re racing to connect through inanimate computers and mobile phones in order to build stronger relationships with people.
Messages are often misconstrued by our inability to effectively translate our intent to the written word. Doing so is a task that requires tremendous training and skill and very few of us are either so trained or skilled. Yet, with social networks and blog content management tools in hand, we’ve all become active brand publishers attempting to fabricate relationships through social channels.
Some argue that the real problem lies in the consumer’s inability to interpret our intent because each views the same message with his or her own personal filters. The emotional, financial and social states of each member of a business’ community impact how they process the communications received. Businesses using social channels to sell products and services often create content without understanding where the customer is in the decision making or purchase cycle, thus decreasing the likelihood that their efforts will contribute to any form of relationship-building.
Regardless of which theory you subscribe to, digital communications have distanced us from our customers as much as they’ve embedded us in their lives. As a result, the need to “humanize our brand” has become a more urgent priority for marketers. Nuances, colors or even a headline could make the difference between your digital handshake being perceived as firm and strong or limp and weak.
The Relationship Gap
Business leaders are being trained to do more with less, generate more profit with less investment, and sell more with fewer sales people. The very ethos of our capitalist-based civilization moves us towards this goal, so it’s no wonder that social media’s appeal of mass communications with less effort and expertise has captured the imagination of marketers and business executives everywhere. Sadly, the push to communicate digitally has decreased our ability to truly connect with people, build strong personal relationships and create truly outstanding customer experiences. The connections we are making are fickle and tenuous.
Now don’t mistake my intent, I’m not advocating we remove social or digital communications from our vocabulary but I am sounding the alarm for those who have become singularly focused on the social channel to humanize the brand. Social media has become a black hole of sorts, sucking us in and forcing us to create strategies and tactics to counter the impersonal nature of the technology that drives conversations today.
“Humanizing your brand” is certainly an important tactic of modern content marketing strategies, but social content does not humanize your brand. Social content, generated by your marketing team or your customers, is a testament to how human and relatable your brand is; it’s a time-capsule tchotchke that future generations will use to better understand what you were. It does not create what you are. Humanizing your brand requires a culture change that embodies everything a business, its staff and the products and services they produce represent. It’s a way of doing business, not a content marketing strategy.
Do you agree? Can you humanize your business through social media and content marketing strategies? Or is it what I’ve argued, just a testament to the humanity of your brand (or lack thereof)? Share your thoughts below.
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego