It's always a good idea to show the human side of your business. After all, you're not run solely by machines, are you?
People buy from people, which means humans like to interact with humans, not algorithms, chatbots or faceless corporations.
Take a good look at your organisation. How do you engage with your customers and followers or even your suppliers and competitors? How far are you willing to push the human side of your business in your dealings with them?
Take a look at the infographic below:
And here's some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.
In this digital world full of automation, applications, coding and algorithms, the human side of business seems to be somewhat remote. Sometimes I feel these are almost taking over, leaving people completely out of the picture.
And yet technology shouldn't become dominant in your business environment. The human race still has a role to play, because machines cannot communicate the same way as people do. They lack the capacity for empathy, past experience, inside knowledge and emotional reactions. This is what makes us human.
Reveal your human side
How easy is it to find your identity within your business? I'm not talking about a hastily filled in About page, a hard-to-find email address or, worse, a faceless contact form which allows your customers to correspond with you. I'm referring to a real life person ready and willing to receive and help with a query, and be responsible for any flack which comes your way.
And what do you look like? If you have a picture, how up-to-date is it? There is nothing wrong with getting your hair and makeup done (men as well as women) before going to a professional photographer to capture your best side, as long as you are recognisable from the result.
How do you lay claim to your blog posts? Ideally there should be a bio box placed at the bottom, listing your most recent posts and sporting social buttons to your online profiles. Also you should have signed up for a gravatar to provide credibility to your comments, revealing your proper name with a distinguishable, universal portrait.
And the final element of your human side is your personality. This comes out when you talk to your customers and followers. It is your style of delivery, also reflected within your writing as well as how you update and comment within your social networking activities. This is what makes you, you.
Show off your team
Very rarely do successful people work in isolation. There is usually a good sized team supporting the entrepreneur who heads the organisation. If so, these people also need to be brought forward into the limelight and have their contributions celebrated accordingly.
Customers like to see who does what in a business. Who wrote that fabulous post the other day? Who creates those fantastic videos? Which person is it who I need to speak to about advertising? And these people need to be easily found by recognisable pictures and biographies to make them more real and approachable.
Those employees on the front end, eg responding to requests on social media or comments on blogs and forums, ideally should have visible profiles. They should be encouraged to post as themselves on behalf of the company, though employee guidelines should be created to safeguard what and how they post.
The people who help make your business successful should be given the credit they deserve. Let the public know who they are. Allow them to meet up in person at external social events. Or virtually in online communities such as your blog commenting section or social media groups.
Let your customers know you care
Constant communications with your customers, prospect, present and past, lets them know you haven't forgotten about them. It is the radio silence many organisations allow to happen which can be detrimental towards cultivating the human side of a business.
It is through having conversations with the public which allows them to get to know, like and trust a business better. The more sociable the chatting is, the more likely they are to relax and feel an affiliation. This social chatting needs to work with relatable subjects with which everybody has a connection.
This interaction has nothing to do with advertising or selling. This is not the issue here. The main objective is to form a relationship with your customers to get them on your side, your human side, and keep them coming back for more. And to encourage them to recommend your business to their friends, family and social contacts.
Extend the sociable style of conversing with your customers within the written word, such as in your webpages, publicity material and other literature. There is no excuse for corporate speak or unintelligible jargon any more. These fail to be impressive if nobody understands what you're going on about, which defeats the whole idea of communication.
Let down your hair
Customers are much more likely to relate to someone who is willing to expose their playful side. This needn't be detrimental to your company. Anything which is the opposite of stuffy and uncompromising is obviously a bonus.
Show what's going on behind the scenes. Put up pictures of your colleagues at work. Let the world see your organisation is a fun place to work in, and your workforce are happy. This is another way of allowing people to relate to the human side of your business.
Get your customers involved by asking for user generated content. For example, set up an image competition of your customers using your products in different ways. Encourage your customers to share their experiences of your products and publish these in a social networking group.
Organise a fundraising exercise or a corporate building day with your colleagues. Take pictures and post them on social media. Show the entertainment value as well as the real focus, making money for charity or partaking in a local community project.
Come out with your hands up
I have a friend who is popular on social media because she is willing to admit her mistakes. She regularly tells stories of what misfortunes have happened to her, not to get sympathy, but for entertainment purposes. She knows this allows her clients to relate to her more and what she stands for.
Exposing her foibles makes her personality more appealing. Much of what she does resonates with the kind of clients she wants to attract. They all know she is brilliant at her job, but that she is accident prone and gets herself into all sorts of scrapes.
By reaching out to her followers, she is showing her human side. She isn't an unforgiving corporate type, always trying to appear perfect. This isn't relatable, or likeable. Her actions make her followers feel comfortable in reaching out to her for whatever reason.
OK, she may appeal to a certain kind of client, but then she doesn't want to deal with people who aren't prepared to accept her for what she is. She likes to have a good relationship with those she works with, which includes having a laugh from time to time.
Show you've been listening
Worthy organisations practice social listening. They allocate some of their employees to scour social networking sites for mentions or conversations about their brand. They read carefully what people are saying, and then respond appropriately.
This isn't just an excuse to have a nice chat with your customers. This is an exercise to find out what they really feel about your products, or even the competitors' products. The idea is to learn which improvements are required and which problems need to be solved. And how to steal a march on the competitors as well.
Your customers will reach out to you more if they know and understand the human side of your business. Because you've bothered to interact with them, and find out more about them, this will have increased their trust and respect for your organisation and what it represents.
This kind of engagement includes how quickly you respond to questions, and how efficiently you solve problems. Having people on social media purely to respond to customers shows the business isn't totally automated and that there are humans ready and waiting to help them.
How do you reveal your human side?
It's a good idea to come down from your lofty pedestal as a CEO of a company, and work amongst your colleagues on the front line. This is two fold. First you learn about what your employees are really doing, and second you find out more about how your customers behave as well.
Every business really needs to humanise itself if it wants to survive socially. Nothing works in a vacuum. You need to get your customers on board and liaising with you, as well as buying from you. Remember word of mouth is a very powerful marketing tactic.
Businesses who are happy to reveal their human side will be the ones who are more successful on a social level. And this is important for the trust and respect value of your customers, who will value any regular communication you have with them.
Let me know in the comments below your experiences about the human side of your companies. Or any funny stories you are willing to share. Any tips and tricks will also be gratefully received. We look forward to reading whatever you have to say.