Digital Marketing, Social Media Strategy, PR 20

9 Ways to Humanize Your Brand (with real humans)

themichelinman 9 Ways to Humanize Your Brand (with real humans)Many companies are reluctant to fully dive in to social media, either because they are afraid of losing control, or because they believe their customers aren’t using social media. The latter is especially prevalent among B2B companies, and when viewed from a purely numerical perspective they may be right. (photo by The Dana Files)

An agency client of mine – Bliss PR – works with many large financial services companies whose customers are established CFOs. Are there 50-something CFOs using social media? Of course. Do most of them congregate in typical social media outposts? Probably not.

Consequently, my advice in these circumstances is to abandon an outpost strategy in favor of a humanization strategy. Find a thought leader in the organization, and make them the star, instead of the company itself. Chris Brogan calls these folks Trust Agents, and cites Frank Eliason from Comcast, Scott Monty from Ford and others as examples.

Related: Twitter interview of Scott Monty about social media at Ford.

I mostly concur, and I think for many brands it’s smart marketing (even beyond the huge potential customer service benefits).

9 Ingredients of a Humanization Campaign

For agencies, your role in a humanization campaign is almost like a publicist. Find ways to make the designated star a thought leader:

  • 1. Build and optimize a blog
  • 2. Reach out to other bloggers in the category for guest posts
  • 3. Syndicate content to vertical aggregation sites
  • 4. Publish white papers and ebooks, and/or conduct Webinars
  • 5. Create a few killer presentations and get them on SlideShare
  • 6. Do at least a little video blogging to make him/her three dimensional
  • 7. Hustle for speaking engagements
  • 8. Get on Twitter and make sure he/she sets aside time to really engage people
  • 9. Make sure current company customers know all about the initiative and are invited to partipate

By making a real person in a company the social media outreach vehicle, you can at times bypass potentially thorny legal and corporate confidence hurdles, and give the organization plausible deniability if it for some reason goes horribly wrong. “He went rogue!” they can cry.

Simultaneously, you get almost all of the benefits of a corporate-branded social media program. Honesty. Transparency. Engagement with customers.

Forrester is the king of this strategy. When was the last time you went to the Forrester Web site? Contrast that with the last time you went to Jeremiah Owyang’s site (or Peter Kim or Charlene Li before they left). See what I mean?

Does this humanization strategy work? Do you have other examples? 

Related
  • Chris Book

    Couldn’t agree more. While we find ourselves in this age where successful companies are those with a humanized approach, it seems that the large resistance to this is in those companies that A. are too apprehensive to appoint a star or someone to speak on behalf of their brand, or B. are too afraid to let customers see who they really are. Either can be fatal. And that’s a good thing.

  • Chris Book

    Couldn’t agree more. While we find ourselves in this age where successful companies are those with a humanized approach, it seems that the large resistance to this is in those companies that A. are too apprehensive to appoint a star or someone to speak on behalf of their brand, or B. are too afraid to let customers see who they really are. Either can be fatal. And that’s a good thing.

  • http://www.bizcoachdeb.com/blog Deb Kolaras

    Without a doubt a terrific roadmap for any business to follow. While some will never understand that social media doesn’t mean the cash register rings with each “touch” the ones that understand the lasting impact of these points will grab this and run. And isn’t that what separates the chaff from the wheat?

  • http://www.bizcoachdeb.com/blog Deb Kolaras

    Without a doubt a terrific roadmap for any business to follow. While some will never understand that social media doesn’t mean the cash register rings with each “touch” the ones that understand the lasting impact of these points will grab this and run. And isn’t that what separates the chaff from the wheat?

  • http://socialmediavision.com/ JustinSMV

    Social Media is a waste if you don’t add any human engagement with it. I like your tips list here especially #7 hustle for speaking engagements. Most people expect if they do social media success will pour in, they forget to read the fine print that they must also work for it like in the real world. good post.

    JustinSMV’s last blog post..Iphone Takes On Wii With Social Gaming Ifun Games

  • http://socialmediavision.com JustinSMV

    Social Media is a waste if you don’t add any human engagement with it. I like your tips list here especially #7 hustle for speaking engagements. Most people expect if they do social media success will pour in, they forget to read the fine print that they must also work for it like in the real world. good post.

    JustinSMV’s last blog post..Iphone Takes On Wii With Social Gaming Ifun Games

  • http://blog.catchyourlimit.com/ jeff

    A lot of your points are great tips for tactics but I think some organizations really need to go back to strategy. The strategy has to allow for personality. If you’re brand is all about the attributes and there is no personality I think any organization that goes out and tries to be human will fail no matter what they say or post or present. The brand has to have human components before you can go out and execute on those tactics. So I’m not saying those tips are bad in any way, they’re great ideas but I think a lot of organizations need to first look internally and determine what the personality components of their brand.

    jeff’s last blog post..For a Human Press 1

  • http://blog.catchyourlimit.com jeff

    A lot of your points are great tips for tactics but I think some organizations really need to go back to strategy. The strategy has to allow for personality. If you’re brand is all about the attributes and there is no personality I think any organization that goes out and tries to be human will fail no matter what they say or post or present. The brand has to have human components before you can go out and execute on those tactics. So I’m not saying those tips are bad in any way, they’re great ideas but I think a lot of organizations need to first look internally and determine what the personality components of their brand.

    jeff’s last blog post..For a Human Press 1

  • http://blogs.sun.com/socialfx Lou Ordorica

    This is a great post, and I’m reminded that “stars are born, not made.” A missing first step should be to search for the passionate individuals who are natural communicators, and who are already active in the social Web. Support these folks, give them latitude to take risks on behalf of the company, and expect to be surprised.

    Lou Ordorica’s last blog post..Top 10 Social Media Takeaways – 2008 Thin Air Summit

  • http://blogs.sun.com/socialfx Lou Ordorica

    This is a great post, and I’m reminded that “stars are born, not made.” A missing first step should be to search for the passionate individuals who are natural communicators, and who are already active in the social Web. Support these folks, give them latitude to take risks on behalf of the company, and expect to be surprised.

    Lou Ordorica’s last blog post..Top 10 Social Media Takeaways – 2008 Thin Air Summit

  • http://twitter.com/lordorica/status/1015431112 Lou Ordorica

    9 Ways to Humanize Your Brand (with real humans) http://is.gd/8l6M

  • http://twitter.com/greyvisual/statuses/2448970930 greyvisual (Bill Grey)

    Twitter Comment


    9 WAYS TO HUMANIZE YOUR BRAND: Find a thought leader in your company to write, make them the star: [link to post] – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/greyvisual/statuses/2448970930 greyvisual (Bill Grey)

    Twitter Comment


    9 WAYS TO HUMANIZE YOUR BRAND: Find a thought leader in your company to write, make them the star: [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/greyvisual/status/2448970930 Bill Grey

    9 WAYS TO HUMANIZE YOUR BRAND: Find a thought leader in your company to write, make them the star: http://bit.ly/EP2xI

  • http://www.air-jordan-3.com/ air jordan 3

    The idea of friend upstairs is reasonable, maintaining a healthy body is very important, I bought a few pieces of XX particularly recently,it can help keep our body healthy, let us feel fit as a fiddle every day, I was alight it in this store!!http://www.canno-tmake.com/

  • letstalkandchat

    I just found a great company that builds websites for info products. To keep your costs low, they’ll mentor you on how to create your site, design a marketing funnel (one of the guys works in Hollywood and makes really slick videos), and the other guy programmed Myspace. If you’re looking to have professional web design for your small business and not waste any time or money then check their site out. Check them out: http://www.mikelmurphy.com/easy-info-product-site-system/