How Brands Can Create Human Connections On Social & Drive Business Results


Social Media Week

Hootsuite Industry Principal Adrian Cockle talks about the ways to transform your social marketing strategy simply by putting Humans first.

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When it comes to social media, the most important thing to keep in mind is to keep it human. At #SMWLDN, Adrian Cockle, Industry Principal for Hootsuite EMEA and non-profits globally, explained ways companies can add the personal touch to their online interactions with customers.

He also noted that it’s important to avoid the uncanny valley, a place inhabited by things that try to be human, but aren’t despite their best efforts and, as a result, humans are inclined to reject them. Some examples Cockle gave are offshore call centers, stock photos that don’t ring true, and Piers Morgan. In order to show customer’s that your company consist of people and avoid the uncanny valley, Cockle provided four key principles.

1. Put Humans First, Always

The numbers speak for themselves.

  • 21 percent of customers report “liking” employee posts, which is significantly higher than the average brand post.
  • 67 percent of consumers served trust recommendations from family and friends
  • 90 percent of brands surveyd by Altimeter have plans to pursue employee advocacy strategies in 2017.
  • 72.6 percent of salespeople who incorporated social media into their process outperformed their colleagues
  • 2 out of the top 3 most used sources (search and social) of news and information are peer reviewed. The third, television, is moving in that direction with on demand.

This means your customers care more about what other people are saying about your product than what you have to say.

2. Humanity Isn’t A Trend

We’re always looking for the latest trend in technology. However, basic human needs never change. Customers always have and always will want companies to listen and empathize with their needs. Pay attention to all customer comments: the good, the bad, and the funny. Wendy’s had to listen to thousands of tweets before they found Carter and his nuggs, which would go on to set the record as the most retweet post.

Also, don’t forget to talk to customers one-on-one. Everyone wants to be heard. Accor Hotels has successfully taken an interaction that traditionally takes place in a hotel foyer and moved it to an online social space. Technology should be used to hold discussions in a new place, not as a replacement for human interaction.

3. Social Belonging and Community

The marketing industry is moving away from “big idea campaigns” on television and in magazine toward providing customers with experiences and relationships. Today, 37 percent of Internet users conduct research about brands or products on social media, making it important to build relationships through platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

4. Trust and Security

Customers know when someone is disingenuous, which is why people now find friends just as credible as experts. One way companies can build trust is by encouraging employees to talk to customers in real time. While it is important to respect your brand’s voice, employees should not become copies of each other. Each one needs to convey that human touch.

When it comes to security, social media users are moving away from public platforms, such as Facebook, to private messaging apps like WhatsApp. This makes it harder to track social ROI because the metrics used in the past don’t reflect customer behavior accurately anymore. In response, Adidas has shifted their focus from tracking their reach to counting how many times people say thank you.

It’s the little things that will remind customer’s that your company cares and isn’t simply another one focusing on pushing a product at the expense of their customers.

Further analysis and commentary from “Powering the Human Connection” session:

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Allison Lips

Contributor, Social Media Week

Allison is a Digital Marketing Coordinator at Larchwood Marketing in Toms River, New Jersey.



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