Today’s question: how are you supposed to sound personal… human even… as a brand?

In 2016, the distinction between “brands” and “people” is fading as an increasing number of brands have gotten so good at social communication, that they practically sound like one of your best friends.

This has lead to our culture’s rapid approach of a tipping point where successful, purposeful, restorative brands must communicate with a distinctly human imprint in order to make it in today’s digital environment. And those who don’t cross over to this way of communicating will soon be perceived as abrasive and out-of-touch as a poorly produced car dealer’s commercial.

Your Digital Presence ≠Means to an End
Your website, your social media, your email blasts… these forms of communication can all be packed up neatly. They can be produced in advance, automated, and directed at a highly targeted audience with specific objectives in mind. So, in order to achieve business goals – whether that’s more sales, product line expansion, or breaking into a new market, many marketing teams decide to stick to “the persona.” They play a conservative game by defining a singular voice that knows one way of communication.

And the audience doesn’t go for it. It’s boring. Fake. Inauthentic. Simply… not human.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have companies who treat their brand’s digital presence as nothing more than a listicle-regurgitator. This oftentimes happens with companies who know just enough to “know they should be on social media,” but don’t know how to behave or what to share on those social media profiles. A common problem with these brands is that they think they don’t have any original content to share (e.g. stories, photos, videos, blogs, etc.). We think they do have something to contribute.

Like the companies who run a tight sales game on social media, these “content regurgitation brands” come off sounding dead and lifeless. Both companies reach the same conclusion by taking opposite routes.

Your Digital Presence Is An Expression of You.
I encourage my clients to see their digital presence as an expression of themselves, whether they’re solopreneurs or managing large corporations. Find the pulse in your organization – the “company culture” – and play with it online. Explore all of its corners, how it’s expressed in good times and bad, how it relates with peers, customers, and competitors.

Do this, and you’ll find that your brand is suddenly much more “human” and real online than you thought. The notion that your company’s online presence must be all-business or all-personal is a myth. Furthermore, it’s a deception that you don’t have enough original content to post. If you can’t find the narrative arc of your company, partner with an influencer or creator who can help you create and unearth content that shows your best side.

In Chapter 4 of my latest book, Finally Human: Using Digital Media to Restore Culture and Better Our World, I look at how Taco Bell, Jon Acuff, Gary Vaynerchuk and other brands have mastered this ability to share their authentic selves on social media. What about you? Have you mastered it yet?