I ran across this blog post from Spinsucks titled: 5 Ways To Humanize Your Brand in Social Media. The author raises some valid points on how to approach Social Media content but misses the larger picture.

Which is – you can’t really “humanize” your brand. Brands are things that people use or want. They are not animate objects people want to engage with. Seriously, when was the last time you bragged about your relationship with Starbucks, Kleenex or that creepy guy on the right?

The content quest for brand humanization takes the focus off what you should be doing in Social Media in order to make your brand more accessible and user-friendly. When you hear “humanization”, think – instead – of the following character traits:

STYLE – Sometimes referred to as your Social Media “voice” or “personality”. When you are creating and composing content think about your writing style. Are you going to be self-deprecating? Serious and credible? Flippant and furtive? That really depends on what type of image your brand is trying to project.

A local yarn shop will project a different personality than a recycling operation. The style you create will need to match the customer expectations of your brand. A cancer support group should not be funny (or post silly videos) while a consumer pet show can be more frivolous. This all depends on point #2…

CONSISTENCY – For some reason, the advent of Social Media has caused businesses and nonprofits alike to completely forget all the brand equity they have developed. Unless you are a brand new venture, you are entering the Social Media environment with an already established set of images. Whatever you plan on doing in Social Media MUST match your other marketing and communications efforts! Social Media is not a stand-alone platform. You shouldn’t be posting or tweeting anything that does not fit with your overall marketing strategy.

Social Media IS marketing-much like your business cards are marketing, how your receptionist answers the phone is marketing and what your radio commercial sounds like is marketing. Every time you make a public statement about your business or nonprofit you are marketing yourself. Because of the interactive and viral nature of Social Media it is even more important that your content integrates with your brand strategy.

EXPECTATIONS – It is not about you, it is about me – your customer or donor. What does your database want from you? Are they looking for money-saving offers? A deeper understanding on how to use your product or service? Whatever it is – give it to them!

Social Media allows you to explain your messages in greater detail. Theoretically, it is less a less intrusive marketing platform since your fans have opted in to your content. How they view you shapes how you communicate with them. Remember, they really aren’t looking for your friendship. They want to know what you can do for them.

COMMUNICATION– Social Media conversations happen one person at a time. You may think that because you have 100 or 100,000 fans you are talking to a group. You are not. When someone reads your content they are engaging in a one-to-one conversation. You are speaking directly to them as an individual – even if that “them’ is multiplied by hundreds or thousands. Frankly, that is the while key to Social Media interaction – talking to your customers one at a time.

We have a tendency to over complicate things. Because Social Media is a brave new world we think we have to re-invent everything we do. While there are specific rules of engagement for Social Media – as there are for any marketing platform – the essential elements of communication have not changed.

Your thoughts?

Steve Allan, Social Media Specialist, SMThree