Did you know that the average consumer is bombarded by over 5,000 advertising messages each day? According to Moz, the daily device user “wields more computing power in their hand than NASA” leveraged to land Neil Armstrong on the moon. What’s more, people make split second decisions about your website—literally split second, as in 1/20 of a second. In an age of now, how do you ensure split seconds count in your favor? Ever heard of humanizing your content? Let’s look at how you can use that in your favor.
Humanize Your Content with the Power of You
You, me, we’re all human. And as humans, we have a few fundamentals in common. We love, hate, and procrastinate. We’re drawn to stories. We root for the underdog. Most of us even envision better and strive to achieve it. Does your content reflect the power of you? Is it humanized? Humanizing your content is more important now than ever. In this era of social media and constant contact, you don’t want to portray your brand as a cold, faceless corporate robot. You want your brand to be the warm, smiling face that welcomes people with open arms. You want to hand readers something authentic and genuine, something they can connect to—something human. Humanizing your content is not a one-size-fits-all plan due to the fact that every brand is different. What works for Audi or Volkswagen isn’t going to work for Kraft and Heinz. While they’re relatively comparable in size, the auto giants aren’t going to appeal to your family’s traditional cooking or macaroni and cheese nostalgia to sell the latest Audi R8 model. So just how can you humanize your content to appeal to your readers? What’s the secret? Would you believe me if I said there are five?
Secret #1: Connect on an Emotional Level
It’s nearly impossible to fake being genuine or authentic. Consumers—people in general—are too smart for that. And if you get caught faking it, the backlash could be devastating. For example, imagine the backlash if Dawn was involved in dumping oil or an oil spill Their carefully crafted image of genuine environmental concern, while also showing the power of their dish soap, displayed in videos of cleaning oil covered animals would be decimated. The point is, if consumers realize that your reputation is just a cash grab technique, you will suddenly have a lot to answer for in the court of public opinion. There are several ways to connect to your readers on an emotional level. A great example comes from the brand Always. They recently held a campaign that helped people see their mission to “champion girl’s confidence.” #LikeaGirl became a very successful campaign because it was genuine, and Always succeeded in making their brand seem secondary to the cause. They presented an Always advertisement with Always branding, but the message and the cause of #LikeaGirl remained the primary focus. The gender equality premise created an emotional connection that almost anyone could relate to and understand. You too can use the personality of your brand, your customers, and even your employees to create a genuine, emotional connection. The key is not to do something purely for marketing reasons. It has to be a part of your brand’s culture. For example, it will seem more genuine if you’re making a video of your entire company doing the electric slide if your brand’s personality is already established as a “fun” brand. It’s easier and more genuine for a brand like PlayStation to do a video of their employees having a video game tournament or Nerf war in the office versus a Fortune 500 company like JP Morgan Chase.
Secret #2: Listen to Your Customers and Respond with Action
Social media has given customers more access to your brand than ever before. And while it’s one thing to have an account customers can interact with, it’s something else entirely to show them that you’re listening to them. People love to voice their opinions, especially when they know it will be taken seriously. Showing your customers that you can listen to what they have to say and incorporate it into your brand’s ultimate goal, or your product, is huge. It helps gain their respect and their loyalty. But it’s not just interaction that matters. Allowing your customers to be your market research source is a great way to humanize your content. Your customers get to interact with your brand on a personal level, and they get to see their ideas recognized and possibly implemented. People are more likely to return to your brand, as well as recommend it, when you listen to what they have to say.
Secret #3: Let Your Hair Down
Everyone has a sense of humor. Humor is associated with people, not brands. But what if your brand had a sense of humor about itself? If you’re in a so-called “boring industry” having a sense of brand humor is a good way to distinguish yourself. You don’t have to write copy with a joke in every sentence to have a sense of humor. Posting pictures of your employees doing things naturally is good, too. Hubspot, for example, has a rotating stable of employee pictures on their login screen.
Poking fun at yourself is a good way to let your brand’s hair down. We all make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are just plain humorous. And let’s face it; mistakes are how we learn. It’s human nature! Don’t be afraid of connecting with your audience by letting your hair down. Share your successes while discussing the obstacles, challenges, and mistakes that got you to where you sit today. Nothing humanizes your content and draws readers in more than that ultimate honesty, that power of your true story. Don’t sit on it! Share it.
Secret #4: Just Be Human
I know. It sounds simplistic, but it’s something a lot of brands tend to forget. In order to humanize your content the best thing to do is just be human. There is a time to be formal and all business, and then there is a time to intermingle it all with good old-fashioned normality (whatever your version of it is). Show your personality. Take off the marketer’s or CEO’s hat and use your name, not your title. Interact with your customers as if they were your friends. Don’t always talk business with your customers. Not everything that you tweet has to lead to a landing page, a blog, or anything outwardly associated with your brand. It can be pure engagement, and the act of striking up a conversation with the people who matter—your customers. Tweet something you know your followers will like. The more you get to know them and their personalities, the easier it will be to create humanizing content. Sign your emails or social media exchanges with your name to let customers know that they are talking to a human, not the faceless CEO of a multinational corporation. Be friendly and treat your customers like friends or even family.
Secret #5: Follow Through With Your Promises
Above all else, make sure that you deliver on all your promises. Nothing is worse than someone who welches on their promises. You will singlehandedly lose the trust and respect of your customers if you try to renege. Even if you can’t complete every promise immediately, showing that you are at least working towards completing it is good. According to Moz, there are over 150 million blogs currently on the Internet, and over 500 million tweets go out per day. The choices for people who want content that matches them are virtually endless.
Humanization Is the Future
We’ve practically grown up watching movies and reading books about robotics taking over the world. In today’s technological abundance, we automate a great number of our daily tasks. It saves time. It even saves money. But humanization is the way of the future. High quality content is quickly becoming the new face of SEO. And one element of high quality is humanization. It’s that human connection that reaches out across cyberspace and touches readers, drawing them into our content, no matter its form. Humanizing your content is easy, and it offers a high reward of increased appeal and therefore an ever-expanding audience. The consequences of having poor content can devastate your brand. It’s not enough to have just an online presence these days. If you’re not interacting with your consumers, making them feel welcome, and humanizing your brand to appeal to them, you’re already behind the competition. The secrets we’ve covered are more guidelines than rules, and you should creatively adjust them according to your content and your brand. But there is one last secret to firmly entrench in your audience, and it amounts to two simple words: be genuine. Nothing will humanize your content more than staying true to yourself. And if you’re seeking some ideas, read up on four brands that nail copywriting. Their example just might inspire you. Photo credit: alphaspirit / iStock