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How to Humanize Your Brand to Win on Social Media

It doesn't matter how big your reach is if your audience won't engage with your content.

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Is your brand putting significant resources into posting every day on Facebook, yet no one's engaging with your posts? Are you tweeting out links to your website on Twitter, yet no one's clicking through, even when you offer sales or other incentives? If any of this sounds like challenges you and your brand face, there's a clear solution: Humanize your brand.

In today's hectic and crowded social media landscape, companies that want to break through need to focus on forming genuine connections with their audiences by communicating with them like a human, not like a brand. That starts with marketers thinking less like marketers and more like consumers.

Don't believe me? Consider this: When using social media in your personal life, do you wake up each morning to check what your favorite brand is selling on social media? Or do you open Facebook or Instagram to see what your friends are up to, to be entertained, to learn about what's going on in the world that day? Consumers don't want to be sold to, and if your brand is pushing your sales agenda online, you'll get tuned out. Instead, you need to tune into what matters to your audience and start engaging with them like a human, not like a brand.

Brands need faces

As I explained in my new book, The End of Marketing, being successful on social media now requires being open and real with your audience, like the way DJ Khaled has built up a social media empire by letting people get a closer look at his lifestyle. Any celebrity could theoretically do the same, but DJ Khaled stands out in the social media world by being refreshingly candid in his posts. In other words, he seems human, rather than having every post look like a finely polished PR piece.

Some brands have been able to leverage DJ Khaled's influence by partnering with him to promote their products in a similarly entertaining, human way, and doing so puts a relatable face to what they're trying to sell. While most companies don't have the budget to work with mega-influencers like DJ Khaled, there's no reason why you can't put a face to your brand by either working with smaller influencers to show how your products and services affect real people's lives, or leveraging your own community of customers and employees.

Far too often, brands miss opportunities by not engaging with customers who are already interacting with them online. Instead of always trying to expand your reach, start by responding to the comments others leave on your posts, and search within social media platforms for customers mentioning your brand. When you find with them, engage with them like you would a friend — say thanks, ask them questions about what they're working on or doing for fun, congratulate them on milestones, etc. If you do that, there's a good chance you can find customers who want to organically promote your brand on social.

Companies can also recruit their own employees to humanize their brands. Showcase what a day-in-the-life is like at your company in various departments, have different employees take over your social media channels for a day, or have your community manager introduce themselves to your audience and communicate on a more personal level. With my own brand, for instance, I leverage my own social media presence as Carlos Gil, rather than trying to build up a corporate persona under the Gil Media name. Doing so helps me form deeper connections with my clients and partners, which in turn helps me grow my brand.

Entertain or educate

In addition to putting a face to your brand, you also need to change what you post. Rather than being salesy, which would look even more unnatural coming from the real people that comprise your brand, focus on creating content that will either entertain or educate your audience. Not every company can be entertaining like DJ Khaled, but any brand can connect with customers by being educational.

For example, if you're an accounting company, you can provide tax tips rather than directly pitching your services. If you're a food company, you can provide recipes. If you're a pest control company, you can provide home care tips. Whatever you do, there's a way you can educate your audience in a way that provides value to them and causes them to engage with your posts, rather than scrolling past them.

These are just some of the many ways you can humanize your brand, but the key is to remember that gaining traction on social media today requires giving customers the content they want, not what you think promotes your company in the best light. If you think like a customer instead of a marketer, you'll have a better chance of figuring out how to make this shift and start forming deeper connections that help grow your brand.

Watch a preview above, or check out the full keynote on Carlos Gil's YouTube channel here.

Watch more videos from Carlos Gil on his YouTube channel here. Follow Carlos Gil on Instagram @CarlosGil83.

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