If the Internet is made up of people, I don't understand why brands use the Internet to communicate and market their products in a way that keeps them at a distance from human relations. If human relations are the essence of the social media, I don't understand why no one is connecting and humanising instead of just sending out the same message 100 times, aiming to have an impact or simply wanting us to click on an ad in Facebook, LinkedIn or during a YouTube video.
How to add the human touch and understanding to the Internet
Thinking about this, I hope some of the things included here may help us to understand the term "humanise" in regard to the Internet and social media.
1. Establish the foundations for listening: spend your time processing everything that's being said about you or your organisation and do something with this. For instance, you can offer an answer to your audience. You may not know this but they're the new "killer App".
2. Respond to LinkedIn invites in a personal way, reviewing the other person's profile, taking care in how to word your message to connect with the other party. Offer individual personalised answers and don't use templates. It works for me. The same goes for emails.
3. Start or finish any comment, message, tweet, recommendation, review or shared content by naming the person you're addressing.
4. Always answer any comment made and try to do what you'd like people to do with you: leave a comment, RT, "like", "recommend", "vote" or mention.
5. Speak positively, deal with situations with optimism, even when faced with harsh criticism or comments. Don't lose your nerve and let humour reign. Researchers from Georgia Tech found that staying positive, useful and resonating is a tactic that leads to the trust and credibility needed for people to purchase at our store.
6. Look for ways to be innovative, staying true to yourself. For instance, use a word or catchphrase that is close to you, even one you make up. For instance, "rock on". It may seem daft but try it out and see.
7. Look for conversations that are close to your interests. For instance, the contact made between a designer and a programmer to create a new blog, or contacts made between food lovers and the cooking blog you've discovered. So, make that introduction, connect!
8. Take an interest on subjects that may also be of interest to your audience and offer them information. For instance, if you're a hotel, recommend tour routes. If you're a dinner restaurant, talk about places where you can go for a drink later or recommend clubs. If you're a club, recommend a good after-party.
9. Filter information that may be useful to your community and transform it into actionable points you can work with. For instance, if you provide a guide on how to install plug-ins in Wordpress, explain exactly what plug-ins you need to install and summarise the steps you need to take in a direct way. Otherwise, you're not really contributing anything new.
10. Perhaps through your experience and knowledge, even through your failures, you may extract conclusions, reflections or moments -transferred into content- that may connect with your audience and which betters them. This would be equipping them. Try talking about when you lost your nerve with a client, when you launched a campaign with the wrong target or when you paid your Facebook "Ads" with the wrong credit card.
11. Look for conversations regarding your brand on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google+ (hint: look for hashtags and keywords). When you find them, engage in them, contribute your point of view, share, recommend, provide information or clarify doubts.
12. Every time you want to read something interesting, spend 5 minutes looking for it among the content posted by your audience / followers / fans. You're sure to find something worthwhile, something you can share and recommend. We'll be grateful!
13. Ask your community what they want from you, don't be afraid! Then, work towards making it possible if you can't offer it right away. For instance, if people complained that there weren't enough women in your last event, work to fix this in time for the next event.
I honestly think I'm not really discovering uncharted territory here. Neither is it a cure for all. Similarly, discovering humanity on the Internet or in social media is a greatly complex task. A paradox perhaps? What do you think?
Photo credit: al shep.