When customers interact with a brand, at times, it can seem as if they are interacting with a faceless being. This may have worked in the past, but in a world connected by a slew of digital devices and social media platforms, customers are craving a human connection. According to PwC, 75% of customers still prefer to interact with a real person, even as technology advances.
In the digital world, one way brands can establish this human connection is through social media platforms. We’ve turned to marketing executives to determine if social media is an effective means of establishing the human connection for brands, as well as find ways companies can improve their efforts.
Is Your Brand Active Enough on Social Media?
According to the Content Marketing Institute, a whopping 95% of B2B content marketers use LinkedIn for organic content marketing, and it is a great tool for engaging with an audience. Sharon van Donkelaar, CMO at Expandi, believes it works well whether as a brand or as a person. “I regularly engage with our audience over LinkedIn and social media in general as myself and as the brand. We are more active as a brand on Facebook, whereas I’m more active personally on LinkedIn,” she said.
Having different strategies for different social media platforms is also an excellent way to establish a brand, according to Nell Lanman, Head of Marketing, SquareFoot. “Our company is active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. On each channel, we offer some of the same content, but always with a different slant aimed at appealing to the people who use that platform,” said Lanman.
Related Article: 6 Social Media Best Practices for Brands
Customers Engage With Humans Not Companies
Another thing for companies to note is that engagement can vary with a brand and a person. It’s essential to have both and be committed. “In addition, separately, our CEO has active LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. It helps us humanize the traditional industry of commercial real estate, demonstrating that we are empathetic and responsive to what people are saying and asking about, not just offering quarterly trends reports,” Lanman said.
Engaging as a person and not a company also has a network effect that allows brands to capitalize. “Our CEO’s LinkedIn presence is particularly strong, where he can get many thousands of impressions from people beyond the real estate world; other NYC tech founders like him are supportive and help amplify his messages when they resonate,” Lanman added.
In many cases, engagement rates increase when posting as a person vs posting as a brand. “I would say that our engagement is better when I personally post company news as people tend to actually read it,” said van Donkelaar.
She believes that too much posting as the brand can actually have negative results for important pieces of news. “When you post as the brand, it might get quickly skimmed as people are bombarded every day with “updates” from multiple companies that they follow on social media. This leads to a degree of desensitization to updates that arrive en masse on the newsfeed, whereas personal posts always get at least a second look,” she added.
For Lanman, it ultimately depends on the strategy, “Engagement for the two types of accounts are different because their purposes are, too. We post far more often on the corporate accounts. Measured on the whole, both accounts reach large audiences, with different strategies and approaches behind them,” he pointed out.
How to Improve the Human Connection
If brands are hoping to improve the human connection with their customers, then it’s necessary to know the person or people behind the company. “Always try to add a face to your social media even though it’s a necessity to also post as the “brand” or company page on social media,” says van Donkelaar.
However, merely posting more on social media won’t cut it if you’re not following your own playbook and just copying what everyone else is doing. “If you don’t already have a strong sense of what your company collectively and employees individually wish to accomplish, you won’t find any meaning to using social media. That’s why you find so many social media feeds sounding the same — they’re all copying each other rather than identifying their own voice and vision,” said Lanman.
Systemizing and automating repetitive tasks is one way to make things easier, freeing you up to build a rapport with your customers. According to van Donkelaar, “posts can easily be pre-scheduled to make managing it easier. In other words, automate everything that you can, which will open up more time to engage with your most promising leads personally.”
The key to humanizing your brand and building that connection with your customers is in focusing on their needs and how you can solve them, says Lanman. “To make your company’s feeds sound more human, you must first be more human. Talk to customers, learn about their pain points, and have a strong sense of what solutions your company has in place. Then, craft copy that will make those solutions come alive for outsiders.”