I recently had the opportunity to interview Bryan Kramer for my YouTube series #SMRealTalk. In addition to being the CEO of PureMatter, a Silicon Valley digital agency, Bryan's also a Top 25 Influencer to Follow by Forbes, Top 100 Most Influential Tech People on Twitter by Business Insider, and author of the recently released book "There Is No More B2B or B2C: It's Human to Human #H2H".
I've followed Bryan on social media over the last year and, as a brand marketer in the digital world, have been drawn to his philosophy: Between the two marketing segments of B2B and B2C, it's hard to tell the difference between the two anymore. We all need to think like the consumers we are, putting ourselves in the mindset of the buyer instead of trying to speak such an intensely sophisticated language full of acronyms and "buzz words".
Consumers aren't a "KPI", they're people. They have value to brands and they hold the keys to the social media kingdom, not the other way around. Today, marketers play a vital role in how brand content is viewed digitally. But content is only one piece of the sales funnel; there's also direct engagement and community which builds loyalty.
Over the length of our 37-minute conversation, Bryan and I spoke about everything from Taco Bell going "dark" for days on social media to promote the lanch of its mobile app and the impact it made on sales and PR; brands like KLM and Outback, who are successfully humanizing social media; and tips on how brands can own social conversation.
Below's my interview with Bryan Kramer via YouTube:
5 Easy Ways to Humanize Your Brand:
1. Community Management
Humanizing your brand begins with community management. Without community, social content is merely advertising. Twitter and Facebook pages are simply viewed as digital billboards. Some of the most successful brands online, including: Southwest Airlines, Best Buy and Hilton, have earned their favorable reputations because they are as reliable and available to its customers needs online as they are in person. Before investing top dollar in digital content creation, every brand who's opted to engage in social media (whether only on Facebook or across multiple channels) needs to invest in hiring a community management team who will be ready and available to answer customer inquiries during its hours of operation. So if you're in retail, travel/hospitality, or the food and beverage industry, and you're open 7-days a week, you should have a staff member monitoring your brands social media accounts for customer comments, Swarm check-in's, Yelp reviews, etc. The worst customer experience is one that goes ignored.
2. Surprise and Delight
Showing appreciation to customers who regularly engage with your brand is just the right thing to do. Not only does it show them that you care about their business but it also builds longlasting loyalty which is what grows sales. Developing brand advocacy is as easy as dropping your most, highly engaged followers with a gift card, sample product to demo or even a birthday card. As an example, I follow Outback and often praise their brand's consistentcy in food quality and service when I visit. On my birthday this year, they surprised me with a birthday and gift card to come in for a free meal. Another example is Olive Garden who recently sent me a bag full of mint chocolates after I tweeted about my love for their after-dinner treats. It's the "little things" that go a long way to building loyalty and keep highly influential customers coming back.
3. Be Authentic
Look, every brand is trying to go viral everyday. When you try too hard nobody listens. Not everyday is the Super Bowl and not every momet is a "Dunk in the dark". Often times those brands that go out of their way to be funny or catchy wind up falling flat. Look at Dave & Busters recent social media flop. Here's my advice, offer value to your social community and create content that feels natural to your brand. Engage bloggers and influencers, connect directly with end-users who're tweeting or speaking about your brand, participate in Twitter chats relative to your brands industry but DON'T go over the top and talk about the Grammy's just because it's a nationally trending event. Instead, make a natural connection to your brand and a nationally trending event when and where it makes sense. Again, people tune out what's not relevant.
Social media is customer relationship management. Point blank. Especially Millennials, engage a Millennial consumer and you've potentially earned access to his/her friends and followers too. Ignore a Millennial and you've lost a customer for life. Part of community management involves listening to what consumers are saying about your brand, and competition too, and engaging whether the dialogue is good or bad. Embrace the good/bad that consumers are saying about your brand. Use social media as an opportunity to gage public perception and even improve it. Get to know your online customers, develop a relationship with them. Similar to dating, you're goal is to keep them coming back even after the first and second date. There's a lot of tools out there today, build "VIP" or top customer lists and make it a priority to acknowledge them by name often. There's a certain "coolness factor" whenever a brand tweets a shout out to me or someone I know.
5. Content to Inspire and Engage -- NOT Sell
On most days, checking my Facebook or Twitter feed is like walking into a car dealership. It's not something I look forward to. Why? People don't want to be sold to, they want to be engaged. Ask yourself, when was the last time that you went on Facebook because you wanted to buy something from a brand or you wanted to see a sponsored post. That's what you have your social network for, as a sound board, and that's what brands need to realize. People are influencers, they have klout and the power of word of mouth is stronger than any paid media buy. One of the best social campaigns that I saw this year was #ShareACoke. People want to be part of a movement, give them content that inspires them to be share, engage, and repeat. Social media is NOT sales, it's relationship building. Real talk.
From your perspective, which brands online are cutting edge in being human? Tweet your replies to @CarlosGil83 or post a comment below.