Content Marketing Blog

How being human on social media improves your company image [STUDY]

Social media can be a great tool for connecting with potential customers, promoting your social-friendly content or spreading the word about your latest products and services.

For a lot of brands, whether they’re selling to consumers or other businesses, a headline goal for social media marketing is to have a positive influence on their online reputations.

Positive brand perception can make it easier to win business, keep customers and attract and retain high quality employees.

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But what can brands do to ensure that their social media campaigns deliver on this important but tricky criteria?

One tip is to ensure that your social media channels have a “human voice” – helping fans and followers to feel as though they are communicating with a real person, rather than a faceless corporation.

A recent study involving the Dutch airline KLM revealed a strong, positive correlation between the use of “human voice” in social media communications and a positive perception of the company.

Previous studies have identified a link between a brand’s social media following and its online reputation, but this new research highlighted the crucial role that the style and tone of a brand’s social media posts can have.

“This study shows the importance for a company to communicate in a human-like way for establishing the best relationships with consumers,” one of the researcher’s told the Journal of Computer Mediated Communication.

“We show positive effects of communication style on perception of corporate reputation, which – in turn – plays an important role in the achievement of business objectives.”

Avoiding social media bear-traps

Social media can be a powerful tool for brands, but it is full of potential bear-traps.

One of the best ways to give your social media a human voice is trust individual employees to create and post content.

Often the most effective social media comms, especially when dealing directly with customers, comes through personal accounts, where real people – or at least their social profiles – can answer questions, solve problems and share knowledge.

But on the flip side, relinquishing control and freeing up individuals to use their own judgement and take responsibility for your social brand can be risky.

There are countless examples of social media gaffes caused by over-eager employees who tweet before they think. Just check out Inc.com’s top 10 social media fails of 2014.

Some social media “mishaps” are of course very deliberate. A big brand doing something silly but not particularly harmful or offensive on Twitter is great way to generate a bit of free publicity.

Tweeting your customers happy

When brands first started responding to @mentions on Twitter it looked like a bold and innovative way to turn negative public feedback into a positive. Someone complains to their Twitter followers about you and you respond with a solution, showing everyone that you’re listening and that you care about your customers.

But as social media has evolved, so has the nature of complaining. Nowadays, as a consumer, tweeting about your dissatisfaction is no guarantee of being heard above everyone else who’s doing the same thing. And for brands, responding might not always get you the outcome you had hoped for.

Research has shown that tweeting at customers when they make a complaint can just to lead to more complaints.

It makes more people aware of the problem and provides an easy outlet for customers who might otherwise have kept their complaints to themselves.

However, as the authors of that study noted, an unhappy customer doesn’t have to be shouting about their problems on Twitter for it to damage your business – and that damage can go undetected.

Even if tweeting about a problem acts as a lightening rod, it still provides an opportunity to fix it for everyone, which can be worth the short-term spike in negativity.

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Adam Barber
Adam Barber About the author

Adam is one of Castleford's founders and remains actively involved in the day-to-day running of the business. He started out as a writer and still contributes regularly to our blog, covering SEO, CRO, social media and digital strategy.

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