At Statement, we feel that it’s important to be approachable and friendly, and we’ve definitely incorporated those values into our #ThinkHappy brand. We want our clients to be happy with the service that we are providing. Not only does this mean that we aim to be welcoming in our office and our offline services, but that we work hard to humanise our posts online and via social media.
Having a humanised brand is important, because if you do a lot of work towards being active in social media, your posts can be a first port of call for a lot of prospective clients and customers. You want to appear approachable, and that’s a huge benefit that social networking can give you. If you post corporate-style announcements that sound as if they are being read out by a legal attorney, you can risk seeming as if you don’t care about your customers, leaving them with the perception that your company is impersonal and that you only care about numbers and sales.
Now, if you are a smaller business, this is where you have can benefit, because you will naturally be used to dealing with a lot of your clients or customers on a personal, perhaps even first-name, basis. So use this small-town aspect to your advantage!
If you’re struggling, we are here to give you a handy guide on how to let your human tone shine through your social accounts and to also give you a few suggestions about how to minimise the risks that come along with it.
#1 Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Casually
This is more of a tip for your mind-set rather than something you can include in a plan. The first step to appearing more human is to lower the amount of formal, business-specific jargon. Sometimes it can really alienate your customer base - after all, they probably come to you because they’re not an expert in the field. They might not always be comfortable with the tech-speak or overly formal language. So a good tip is to tone it down.
However, there is another side to this! You also want your follower base to think of you as an industry thought leader. So you’ll need to use industry-specific talk to cement yourself as an expert - but use it sparingly! It’s hard to get a balance, but the general idea is to speak in a friendlier manner that will make you more approachable.
#2 Show Your Team
A great way of appearing more human is to show your humans, i.e. your team. Encourage your team to be proactive on social media and to interact with your audience. Have a Twitter conversation. Obviously don’t fill it with inside jokes or clog up your feed, but make people aware that your rest of your team is just as accessible as your client-facing members of staff.
If you have more than one team member operating your social feeds, then encourage them to sign their tweets with their name or initials. This reinforces the idea that your followers are speaking to real people and not just a machine.
Depending on how casual or fun your office is, you could also share insider photos and videos of your team hard at work. Instagram is a great tool for this!
#3 Be Available
Maybe your company has a policy where you schedule your Tweets a week in advance, but there’s nothing stopping you having a mix of automated posts and a live post now and again. One of the big attractions of Twitter and Facebook is that they feel very here-and-now and have a great ‘live’ factor.
Be online as often as you can. Even if your Twitter tab is open and you check it every hour. It takes 5 seconds to check your Twitter replies (if you have the willpower to resist checking your favourite celebrities too!).
Now, not all businesses can afford the time to be on Twitter 24/7 (although it’s great if you can be regularly available!). Most of the time, this is not a reasonable expectation for companies with low marketing budgets or a busy schedule. Maybe you only have the resources to check your messages once a day.
If this is the case, the important thing is to be transparent. Let your followers know if your team is available on Twitter from 9-5 or let them know that you check messages regularly but encourage more pressing enquiries by email instead. There’s nothing worse than your followers having the impression that you’re always available but then when a customer wants a real question answered, they’re left waiting two days for a response. If you’re honest and friendly about it, most users won’t have a problem with directing their enquiry to you via email.
#4 Care about Relationships, not Follower Counts
Follower counts and fan counts can be a major focus on a lot of companies’ analytic reports. That’s okay. But when you’re actually posting and responding to followers, you need to keep in mind that your followers are also people and that you’re creating an honest relationship with an honest conversation. They’re not just a number.
Have a focus on creating relationships and don’t focus on ‘how many people engaged this week’. If somebody sends you a tweet or posts on your wall, the first thing you should think is ‘how can I respond to this person’ or ‘is it worth a reply or shall I just like the post’. Don’t immediately think ‘great, our company has engagement’ because when you do respond, you risk not showing a genuine care for the follower. And subsequently, they will react by caring less about your brand.
#5 Listen As Much As You Talk
A lot of businesses just use platforms like Twitter and Facebook to post company announcements. They want to tell everybody that they have just won an award or have just moved location. That’s fantastic, they’re using social media to let people know what’s going on.
Now a lot of companies stop there. What they should be doing is using Twitter to initiate conversation as well. Don’t let yourself use social media as a one-way street. Listen as much as you talk.
What we mean by this is that you should get involved with other people.
- Share interesting blog articles that your followers post.
- Retweet and share announcements from similar companies.
- Like and favourite mentions.
- Respond to mentions!
Interacting with people will remind your followers that you are a team of people and will help humanise your brand presence online.
#6 Have a Digital Crisis Management Plan
Now here is where you need to think about minimising risk. There are many risks that can occur when you want to use social media casually and when you frequently interact with customers. This is what a lot of businesses are afraid of and is why they might stick to rigid, uninteresting posts.
Here are a few links to help you create a social media policy or a digital crisis risk plan.
#7 Handle Mistakes Honestly
Following on from the previous point, respond quickly and positively to any mistakes that you do make. The worst thing you could do is have a wrongly interpreted post, have serious backlash and then disappear offline for a few days.
If the mistake was as simple error, such as posting an incorrect link, you could also poke fun of yourself. If you do this, you appear humorous, modest and most importantly, you appear human! Use it as an opportunity to turn a bad situation into a positive experience for customers. We all make mistakes – it’s what we do about them that counts.
#8 Take Online Conversations Offline
As a last point - online doesn’t have to stay online. If you have a positive conversation with a user online, encourage them to drop in to the office if they want to discuss something further. Or encourage a friendly phone call.
The best thing to do when wanting to appear human is to do little things that remind your followers that they are talking to people. Real people with real opinions and challenges. Just be nice and friendly. It really is that simple.
At Statement, one of our main values is our service - we look after our clients and are always honest. This is the main cornerstone of appearing friendly and human online, and we encourage you to take this approach to your social media!