Anyone with social media 101 smarts will tell you the first rule of business is to “be human.” Companies are told they should create personas online to interact with their customers – be a human voice rather than the faceless, corporate voice of an organization. The same advice is often given to digital marketers, but rarely is it followed.

If content marketers took a page out of any successful marketing playbook, the content they created would be a direct reflection of the person on the other side of the screen. Your content should speak to the audience as if it’s a conversation between two people. Your blog post isn’t being read by a group of people who’ve come together in book club – you’re talking to individual readers.

So what exactly does it mean to be more “human?”

Add value and give first.

Do your friends constantly try to sell you things? If they did, would you still be friends with them? Our guess is no. Treat your audience like your friends. Give them value first. Give them a reason to keep coming back to your content.

Find the right emotion.

How do you want people to feel when they read your blog? Your writing should spark some kind of emotion in the reader. Pick one and target it as you write! Here at SHIFT, we want you to feel smarter just by checking out our content. We want to inspire you to think about things differently; to be ballsy in how you approach perceived problems. You should walk away inspired, with an action plan (or at least a spark) of how to accomplish your next big idea.

Keep your voice focused.

Even if your content has multiple contributors, your tone and brand persona should echo throughout. If you’re going for a casual tone, using words like “ubiquitous” and “quotidian” probably won’t fit. At SHIFT, we aim for a balance of work and play in our writing. If you check out our social media sites, we share everything from the latest PR and marketing trends to a picture of the winners of the SHIFT San Francisco’s Easter Egg Hunt.

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If you choose to create a persona for the brand, make sure to also focus it throughout. The persona should be clearly defined – both in terms of personality and the kind of content it interacts with. Your chosen persona should also be present across all marketing efforts – from emails to newsletters to website content.

Be consistent.

People are predictable. They like routines. And they expect the same from your brand. If you keep your content reliable and easy to find, people will come back. Publish your blog posts first thing in the morning? Keep it up. Your audience is expecting to read a new post every day while sipping their cup o’ joe. Post later in the day? It is probably part of someone’s routine to check out your content during the afternoon commute. Don’t let them down!

When you do start selling, send a personal pitch.

Ditch the generic press release or mass email pitch. Make it personal. Build off of the persona that you’ve created and match the tone. Changing the format of your pitch will make a difference in how the audience perceives you. Don’t make them roll their eyes at your preachy sell. Ask like you’d ask a real friend.

These five steps can help you turn your content marketing from corporate blah to personalized glam. Give it a try. Your audience will thank you.