Would You Grab A Bite With Your Brand?

January 8, 2014

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The new year is underway and we’re already off to the races! Resolutions are being set, marketing plans and budgets established, and we’re all taking to heart the insights we have gleaned from the countless blog posts detailing the “best of 2013” examples and “what’s to come for 2014” trends.

One of the trends I am most excited about is the movement towards more personality, or in other words more human connection between brands and their audiences. There are brands that have nailed it, and then there are brands that could use some help when it comes to the emotions department. You’re not quite trapped in a glass case (cue Ron Burgundy), but you might feel lost on a deserted island when it comes to "humanizing your brand."

Introducing social media -- the Great Equalizer. Any business, large or small, can create a feeling among customers that invokes thoughts of a trusted neighbor, a helpful colleague, or a friend you’d invite to lunch.

So let’s make a friend today. Here are nine ideas that can help you show your company's human side and make your brand more approachable. Follow these LinkedIn marketing tips -- and you just may get invited to dinner.

 

9 Tips to Showcase the Human Side of Your Brand

[caption id="attachment_2616" align="alignright" width="270"]LinkedIn employees rocking the brand at a recent InDay. LinkedIn employees rocking the brand at a recent InDay.[/caption]

Tip #1: Give your company a face.

“While many organizations are trying desperately to humanize their brand, they are failing to understand that they need to humanize their business first, “ says Michael Brito, author of Smart Business, Social Business. Communicating the inner workings of your business through your employees is a great way to share your company culture authentically. People like hearing from people, so put face(s) to your brand.

Tip #2: Build and optimize a blog.

Blogs are still the number one way to establish thought leadership. Choose someone in your organization who is passionate about your business, even if he or she isn’t a great writer. You can always outsource the editing; but you can’t fake enthusiasm. (And if you CAN find a few great writers in your org, you’re golden!) Regular blogging will get the search engines to notice you and will give your customers and prospects a reason to engage with your brand on an ongoing basis.

Tip #3: Use rich media – and humor in it – to convey your story.

Let your audience see you by putting some video into the mix. Create videos featuring customers talking your product, your brand, your industry. Encourage them to engage, laugh, be funny, be human. Consumers like to hear validation from others (think of how you read Yelp reviews when selecting a place to eat in a new city). Allowing these other faces to tell your story can be incredibly powerful. Plus, with the added star power, these types of videos often earn some of the highest engagement numbers thanks to social love from those involved. Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer for MarketingProfs and author of Content Rules, regularly shares great content on her blog with advice on how B2B brands can effectively leverage humor and storytelling.

Tip #4: Create a few excellent presentations and upload them to SlideShare. 

[caption id="attachment_2623" align="alignright" width="250"]A SlideShare year-in-review. A look at 2013 trends on SlideShare.[/caption]

Getting prospects and customers to view your presentations has never been easier thanks to SlideShare. SlideShare allows your audience to engage with your content on their own time, at their own pace. Plus, your content can be embedded just about anywhere. For B2B marketers, SlideShare has become a vital source for lead generation. Its Pro version allows you to insert a form into your content and import the viewer’s profile information into SalesForce. For some great insights on SlideShare trends and tips, check out this presentation from our SlideShare team.

Tip #5: Use webinars to connect with your audience.

Webinars are a great way to create a sense of community among like-minded individuals. You’ve invited them to the table and now’s your chance to deliver. You can connect individually by choosing a few names from the attendee list and open up a Q&A during the event. By leveraging social media, you can give attendees a way to connect during the event with a hashtag or offline through continued dialog. A Twitter chat series is also a good way to engage a group around a particular topic of interest. The Content Marketing Institute hosts a great series that I’d recommend checking out.

Tip #6: Let your personality shine through all channels.

Social media is no place for corporate speak. Your audience wants to be inspired. On LinkedIn, fans and followers want you to help them achieve their professional goals. The only way you’ll earn the trust of potential brand evangelists is to be yourself.

Tip #7: Be available for your audience.

This sounds obvious because the point of social media is to be social and a big part of social media is showing up. Show up with a goal of connecting with your audience and an underlying belief that you can help them meet their objectives, and you will see them show up to help you achieve yours.

Tip #8: Focus on the long-term relationship.  

Every industry has its thought leaders and key influencers. Using social listening, you can identify who is giving your company good reviews and who is helping others learn more about your products through their own content. Follow them, share with them, and add a personal touch to your social outreach. Find meaningful ways to continue the conversation, say thank you, and don’t forget one of my favorite parts of a relationship, surprise and delight. People go nuts over even the littlest things – a t-shirt, a free download, even a RT. Embrace the opportunity to create an advocate for life. You don’t need a massive budget to have an impact on someone.

Tip #9: Let your fans participate.

Just as the feeling of giving delights you, your customers also love the joy giving brings them – we are all human, remember! Leverage their passion and knowledge; crowdsource content from advocates who, again, can help tell your story for you. Sometimes the eyes your customers and prospects see your world with may open up a new view that you hadn’t seen before --- and a view others may not have seen either. This could present opportunities to rethink the positioning you use to reach an untapped audience, or to turn detractors into brand ambassadors.

Technology is changing every day. Social networks will continue to evolve as well. But it’s the relationships you build that will last. If you focus on your audience, they will follow you regardless of how the social landscape changes.

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For more social media tips and insights, check out our Social Media Marketing resource page.

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