Consumers are bombarded with ads every waking moment. We see highly produced images and headlines that rarely represent real life. Think about the automobile ads featuring that one, newly waxed car on the road. Then there’s the fashion ads with six-foot tall, waif-like models lounging around mansions. Or the beer ads set in exotic beaches.
None of these settings are easy to relate to, and that’s why messages like these fade into the background. Our brains process them as noise, and we’ve learned to ignore them. Effective marketing triggers an emotional connection.
As humans, we’re inherently wired to like and trust people we relate to. That’s why negotiators and salespeople often use a technique called mirroring, where they copy the other person’s body language during conversations. When you see another person that reflects your own qualities, you’re able to form deeper connections. Extend that same rationale to brands, and that explains why some of the most successful brands on social media highlight real life experiences.
Let’s take a quick look at the companies who use this strategy on social media.
Humanizing your customers and target market
GoPro is the best example of user-generated content on social media. Do a search on Instagram for #gopro and you’ll see thousands of images taken on GoPro cameras: people paddle boarding amid orange rock canyons, snowboarders in mid-jump, even dogs surfing ocean waves.
The brand has been capitalizing on user-generated content for years. GoPro owners affix the cameras to surfboards, helmets, even pets to film videos from new perspectives. They post those videos on YouTube, promote on other social media networks, and the brand becomes intricately linked with these human experiences.
GoPro’s customers are the company’s best advertisers. Not only are the social media posts putting a face to GoPro’s customers, they’re also reflecting the brand’s target market: adventure junkies, travelers and athletes.
Humanizing your organization
Dollar Shave Club is a young company that sends replacement razor cartridges to members every month. The company recently celebrated its fifth birthday and held a 58-minute Facebook live session, giving viewers an inside look at their offices in Marina del Ray, California. Unlike other Facebook live sessions that feature a speaker talking directly to the camera, Dollar Shave Club’s session simply opens the door to the party room and lets the viewer in.
We’ve all been to daytime office parties, where the mood is a humdrum kind of fun. In Dollar Shave Club’s Facebook session, you see a hanging piñata in the shape of a giant razor, all the while a big band version of Happy Birthday plays in the background. Once in awhile, an employee gives the piñata a whack and shaving samples come dribbling out. The party fizzles out when people start throwing their shoes. At the end, employees gather up the scraps and clean up.
Marketing Nutz CEO Pam Moore explains why all brands should strive to be “human brands”: “You can use data, analytics, research and more as inputs to develop your brand, its brand promise, core messages, vision and mission. Yet, it’s people that select the final colors and tagline. It’s humans who post the status updates. It’s humans who read them. It’s humans who click like, pin, post and share the content the humans in your organization write.”
Humanizing your brand—or as PG&E’s former CMO Jim Stengel calls it “flaunting your humanity”—is one of the most powerful techniques to connect with your audience. Give up the marketing speak, let your guard down and just be real.