As technology continues to improve and we’re communicating quicker than ever, we’ll need to humanize our content, or we risk losing ourselves along the way. If you’re like many brands, you may think that you’re evolving by becoming “more robotic” with your marketing. And even though certain technologies do get you ahead, humanizing your content can get you even further.
But let’s go back to the basics: How do you humanize your content when you’re not sure where to start? If you’ve already read how to break through the news with human content, you’ll know that we started with a definition. And two definitions of the word “humanize” exist:
- make (something) more humane or civilized.
- give (something) a human character.
But what does this definition mean when you’re running a business? (And why does it matter?)
When you give your brand a more human character, you’re using your marketing to make a bigger impact and bring in more business. And this “humanize” thing is crucial for modern marketing. So, let’s break down some content guidelines, tips, and examples for how you can humanize your content:
1. Commit to the long-term approach of content marketing
When you commit to the long-term approach, you can boost the ROI of your business. This happens because you’re operating on a different timeline than the traditional advertising approach. Advertising is the loud, rapid-fire way to “make noise” for your business. Content marketing is the more quiet (and often slower) way to convert leads. This has the added benefit of making your marketing more unique and engaging through thought-provoking online conversations around your industry.
A great example of a company who took the long-term approach to content marketing is American Express with its OPEN Forum.
They’ve created an online community where small business leaders can ask experts for advice and share knowledge. Community managers facilitate conversations and help users connect in the most meaningful ways possible.
When you take the long-term route, you build brand advocates and make your message more meaningful.
Patience is one of the most important qualities that you need to humanize your brand. Here’s why: If you’re a more traditional marketer, you’re probably used to seeing results right away with your marketing efforts. And while it’s only natural to doubt your strategy if you don’t see immediate success, you’ll want to learn how to see it through. Think of using social to build relationships as taking the more scenic route. You may not get to your destination as quick, but when you do, you will have enjoyed the ride.
2. Provide journalistic value
Content marketing allows leaders in an industry to communicate their expertise directly to their readers. This can often provide more informational value than if it came from traditional news media. When your content marketing provides more insight into issues in the news than many of the reporters who are covering that same news, you’re providing solid journalistic value.
For example, The Law Practice Podcast nails Human Content by showcasing how a lawyer uses content marketing to provide value to his audience (yours truly is featured in one of these episodes!)
This podcast engages in meaningful conversations around how to successfully market the (often dry) industry of law.
Tip: Think like an editor.
The future of branded content is in the ability to think like an editor. When you use this approach, you start to seek out insightful conversations to develop the most compelling content for your business. This puts you more in touch with consumer trends.
According to trendwatching.org, a consumer trend is “a new manifestation among people – in behavior, attitude or expectation – of a fundamental human need, want or desire.” Consumer trends are the secret sauce to evolving your business.
3. Use social to build relationships (not to pitch your product or services)
Many businesses today think that social media is the place to sell. Breaking news! It’s not.
While selling on social media is necessary (sometimes), it’s often seen as ugly noise in the ears of your customers. It makes them tune out. If you’re selling on social media (and you’re not bringing in business) it’s time to rethink your approach. Instead, use social media as a way to build relationships with customers and fellow business owners. When you stop “screaming” by selling your services on social media, you’ll start to take the more scenic route with your marketing – and win more business.
For example, Buffer is one brand who does this right. They share transparently about all aspects of what they’re doing – and they use it to connect and learn from others.
Make sure that you’re responding on social. Social media is a way to connect and build meaningful relationships. While everyone likes to communicate on different platforms, make sure that you stay consistent with how (and when) you interact with your audience.
4. Curate your content accordingly.
Content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme. According to The Content Marketing Institute, a full 68% of content marketers rely directly on curated content as part of content marketing. You may already be aware of the need to “curate content” today. And while this is solid advice, it’s easy to get stuck in the vicious cycle of sharing every article that you come across. But when you curate your content in this way, it means that you’re adding more noise to the already noisy mess that is the Internet. To stand apart from the noise, you’ll want to look to brands who are curating accordingly.
Believe it or not, Pinterest is one of the most powerful content creation tools that you can use today. Pinterest provides a ton of quality content to pull from with the added benefit of having the guided search option so that you can find things more easily. For example, I did a search on “content marketing” in Pinterest and found a number of helpful infographics and articles on this topic.
Make sure that you use the right content metrics so that you can assess the real impact of your curation.
5. Create experiences
When you create experiences around your brand, you not only provide useful information – you simultaneously entertain. This leads to more awareness for your brand, and fun experiences for everyone involved. Warby Parker nails this marketing strategy by creating remarkable experiences around the process of buying eyeglasses. For example, in this video the head of online experience, Tim Riley, tells the narrative of the company and explains the importance of continuing to create these experiences for their customers through using hashtags and social media.
Do the unexpected.
According to ReferralCandy.com, Warby Parker’s annual reports include things like what bagels they ate, and what were the most popular misspellings of the brand. They clearly have fun and they’re not afraid to share this “fun” with others.
The brands who “do it right” with their marketing often build the most successful businesses through leveraging the most human aspects of their brand.
When you learn new ways to humanize your brand, you more easily connect with your customers in an engaging, fun way – and bring in business. And what’s better than that?
(this article was originally published on studioD).