Recall the advertisement we often saw in our childhood, where a toothpaste danced with a toothbrush. Also, one cannot forget the 7 Up mascot, Fido Dido, who melted our hearts with his next-door-guy look. What about the Amul advertisements featuring the Amul girl who is more of a human being with an amalgam of emotions rather than a mere lifeless mascot? Well, these brands stuck to our memories because they appealed to our hearts rather than just to our minds.
In other words, the brands that stay longer with us are the ones that help us perceive that they are connected to us in some or the other way, i.e., as having human-like personality characteristics, forms, and minds.
The concept of humanizing brands, giving non-human entities human-like qualities, in consumers’ minds has gained popularity over the passing years.
One of the major aims of humanizing brands is to provide consumers with a reason to select a particular brand from among several others. There is a need to humanize brands because the consumer being a social being responds better to other beings rather than robotic marketing tactics.
The consumer wants to know the brand itself and the people behind it besides the “why” behind what the brand is doing. The more relatable a brand is, the better are its chances of success. For example, McDonald, the fast-food restaurant chain, is well-identified for its relatable mascots Ronald and Wendy. The Walt Disney mascot, one of the world’s most recognizable characters, is lovable and adorable.
In the past, advertisements existed solely to promote or sell brands.
These advertisements lacked genuineness, emotions, and were not very engaging.
In the present scenario, technology has become an important part of our lives. Human beings love to interact and crave attention. Social media fulfils both these purposes. There is hardly a person who does not check his/her social media newsfeed first thing in the morning.
Brand owners can make a place for themselves in the eCommerce space by advertising through social media.
Here is a quick peek into some of the well-known brands that have carved a niche for themselves and won on social media by humanizing themselves.
Domino’s has captured the fast-food market through its innovative mobile experience. The brand introduced “tweet-to-order” and “DOM The Pizza Bot” in 2016, a Messenger bot that lets customers order with few clicks in their favourite chat app.
The brand Nike’s partnership with inspirational athletes such as Serena Williams and Eliud Kipchoge, who completed a running marathon under two hours wearing Nike’s Zoom Superfly Elite shoes, is well-accepted on social media. The latter’s performance was live-streamed on Twitter and Facebook. The brand swayed the social media users through its “30th anniversary Just Do It” campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick.
Lego is the world’s most powerful brand as per Brand Finance’s Global 500 list for 2017 and has over 6.5 million subscribers on its YouTube channel. The brand owes its global success to its concept of “Lego Ideas” whereby makers can submit their unique product development ideas online. The company may use the selected ideas to create an official set later.
General Electric, an American multinational conglomerate, attained notable success on social media by releasing hashtag “6secondscience Vine Videos” and related photographs on Instagram. In 2016, the company collaborated with filmmaker Sam Cossman who with his team installed sensors in the Masaya volcano in Nicaragua. This was a brilliant and inspirational effort by the brand to focus on science and engineering as well as to promote itself. The entire activity was shared on Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram.
L’Oreal maintains its transparency by encouraging its staff to use the hashtag “lifeatloreal” to share the organizational culture online. Other brands such as Deloitte, Google, Oracle, and the like have followed L’Oreal’s footsteps.
Dove, a beauty product brand, has gained a steady fan base both online and offline. The brand has undertaken various campaigns such as “Self Esteem Project” and in 2016 the hashtag used “mybeautymysay” that have created quite a stir on social media.
Another brand that has truly reaped the benefit of social media to promote and establish itself is Airbnb. It uses Instagram to create an authentic quality feed.
Taco Bell, an American chain of fast-food restaurant, created amazing brand engagement through its taco emoji engine. Here, the users tweeting the taco emoji receive a custom piece of video content as reply.
Let’s focus on brands that are leading the social media marketing game in India by adopting humanizing approaches.
Zomato picks happening topics and relevant images and regular posts to evoke interest on social media. It released “Daya, Darwaza khol do!” post when the popular serial CID went off-air after 20 years.
Netflix owns the throne when it comes to using catchy memes to start conversations and make impressions and engagements on social media.
The Parle-G biscuit brand used the Sholay fame Jai-Veeru duo tagging post in one of its highly engaging social media advertisements.
Pizza Hut, a leading pizza-making chain, uses social media influencers to discuss its products in form of challenges.
The above-mentioned brands are well accepted and are successful on social media because of a number of factors.
Build rapport with consumers and give personality to brands: The brand owners successfully established relationships with influencers, shared interesting content and quality images, gave their brands unique personalities
Understand the needs and preferences of your consumers: Able to understand their consumers better than other brand owners. According to Korena Keys, founder and CEO of KeyMedia Solutions, one should be human as social media is all about establishing relationships and creating dialogue.
Try unconventional means to interact with consumers: Third-party language, industry slang, and formal sentences should be avoided. “You” and “me” phrases should be a part of conversational posts.
Employed individuals who are enthusiast about the company brand: The social pages created for brands should be managed by individuals who have knowledge of brand ethos and brand characteristics.
Respond and interact personally with consumers: The posts shared by consumers should be responded to personally rather than generated digitally.
Share behind-the-brand stories with consumers: Consistency and authenticity are keys to humanize a brand successfully on social media. According to David Harrison, EVINS, consumers dislike reading boring, sales-heavy content posted by their favourite brands. Sharing stories with consumers on social media or a brand’s official page helps them feel close to their favoured brands.
Brand owners need to maintain a balance between their lifestyle and brand culture: Brand owners should learn the right way to balance their professional lives with their personal lives. Combining staged images with lifestyle shots and a brand’s culture is a great way of humanizing the brand.
Provide insight about the organization as well as of the brand: Sharing company news and press releases, including employee interview and get-to-know-your-employee segments on blog posts, creating event listings and inviting consumers to these events are great ways to increase consumer understanding of a brand.
Show the human side of brand personality: A basic way to humanize one’s brand on social media is to make use of emojis as well as acknowledging one’s mistakes, if and when, committed.
Find out the issues yours consumers are facing and try to find a solution: Another way of putting a human face to your brand is by signing social posts to lend a personal touch. Recognizing consumer problems and suggesting a remedy to the problems make a brand consumer-friendly.
These gestures let consumers know that they are being listened to and are valued.
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. Similarly, keeping things too sterile, failing to be frank and open when needed, not adding the element of humour as and when required do not help a brand connect to its target customers on social media.
Consumers should be made to feel they are connecting with a friend rather than a lifeless brand online. A brand with a consistent voice is instrumental in conveying the right image to consumers.
Nicole Mahoney, Break the Ice Media, emphasizes the importance of sharing videos of team outings and activities, behind-the-scene-fun, official celebrations etc. with consumers to connect with them. Successful brands should attach loyalty to the products as well as to the team.
All said and done, it is easy to preach than to practice. However, with the right mixture of attitude and effort, a brand can be successfully humanized on social media.
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