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This article was published on December 10, 2010

Wake up! 7 tips on how to be a human in social media

Wake up! 7 tips on how to be a human in social media

I am not a marketer. But I am marketed at every day in more ways than it is humanly possible to realize.  But I do read and write a lot about social media marketing. There are a myriad of elements in the social media movement that get under my skin. In fact, the terms “social media guru” or “social media ninja” make me cringe. And I believe I’m not alone. So many “gurus” and “ninjas” completely turn us off because they’re not only cheesy and superficial sounding but they’re jumping on the bandwagon without knowing where they’re going.

There’s no doubt in my mind that using social media in the right way is a powerful tool to advancing your brand and can be a powerful weapon to come out on top of competitors. But if you’re using these tools to connect with your audience, don’t be just a faceless, nameless corporation. I believe one of the most important elements in a successful social media campaign is to keep it human in social media.

Here’s how:

1. Create a social media presence that differs from your home website. Don’t rehash information across all of your outlets or else there is no point in having a social media presence. Use your Facebook profile to display more detailed information that loyal customers would appreciate. An easy example of this is a restaurant or bar, such as Brooklyn’s Whiskey Brooklyn. They use their Facebook page to announce special changes to the menu, special events and interact with customers.

2. Give your brand a face. Give consumers someone or something accountable for the brand. Jupiter Hotel in Portland Oregon has chosen “Mannequin Lily,” as their popular mascot. This “on-the-go girl” has 4,000 Facebook friends and promotes hotel events with her own comic strip, model’s the hotel’s clothing line, and is going to be inducted as one of Portland’s Road City Roller girls. A rather unique approach to informing guests about activities at the hotel, Mannequin Lily symbolizes the Jupiter Hotel’s spirit of fun, and sets this hotel apart from others.

3. Embrace Intimacy. Brands should use social media to talk with customers in an intimate fashion. Use Facebook and Twitter to create a dialogue. And most importantly, be there for your customers. This morning I stumbled upon VitaCoco’s Facebook page and was touched by an interaction they had with a customer. (I’m literally sipping the deliciously addictive water as I type.)

4. Incentive. Give consumers a reason to visit your social media sites. An easy way to do this is by giving away prizes, freebies or discounts to your products. In fact, some Twitter pages are just about that and nothing more. And who doesn’t like seeing photos of themselves after a night out? WET PAINT, a NYC events photographer uses his Facebook page to encourage event attendees to “Like” the site first before they can tag their friends in photos.

5. Relevancy: Make sure that your content is relevant to your audience and is not just a sales brochure. Ensure you have a strategy in place that it ties back to brand objectives. For example, I’m really confused about what’s going on here.

6. Personalization: Train employees on how to use a human voice in social media. Using sign-offs in social media is really important or else you’re just another faceless corporation using social media. Virgin America is a great example of a brand that always uses sign-offs when reaching out to a customer. Don’t hire an agency to speak for your brand on your social media page. Talk like a friend, not a corporate entity. Speak in simple, casual language.

7. Vulnerability. Open up your wall on Facebook to comments. Expect to fail but learn as you move forward. Give consumers some control and be comfortable with the fact that you can’t dictate the message any more. Build trust by being open and honest. Transparency is key. Answer questions, comments and complaints as soon as possible. If you wait too long you risk getting consumers upset.

So this was almost a rant, but I hope it was more of a wake up call for social media “gurus” and “ninjas” to cut the crap.

What are other ways brands can keep it human in social media?

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