Many of us fearfully flee from the zombie corporations that lurch through the web and across the social media landscape. You know the ones: the lifeless drones that spew indecipherable hashtags on Twitter, holler about contests on Facebook, or slobber corporate ipsum all over their websites and social media. It sometimes feels like there’s a widespread corporate policy to act as inhuman as possible, out of fear of being mistaken for interesting.
I like to think that at the heart of every company is a passion for existence that can be recovered. Over the years, that humanity may have receded into zombiefied bureaucracy, but I believe the heart of our corporations is not DOA. We have to teach them how to be human again.
Here are four simple steps to restoring the humanity to your company’s online voice:
1. Talk to your customers, don’t just spy on them
Social media monitoring isn’t meant to turn you into the CIA, developing dossiers on your targets. It’s meant to connect you. Instead of merely watching, start conversing. Yes, consider crossing the digital divide and even communicating with some folks in person. If you’re able to imagine the face, name and personality of an actual customer (instead of a stream of usernames) chances are you’ll find your own content becoming more human.
2. Ask the numbers
As casual as social media sometimes feels, it also allows us to measure the impact of our communication efforts. We can see where we’re succeeding and where we’re going wrong. Referring to the analytics can help us recalibrate our approach. The rise and fall of graph lines are like the flickers of smiles and crinkling of eyes in our audiences. We can use the reactions to adjust our communication in realtime.
3. Learn from the competition, but don’t copy them
Not every business fits the super-social, chatty persona that some companies model online. And likewise, not everybody needs to be stuck inside the box of clinical corporate speak. Where are you in the market? Knowing how your competitors sound and what choices they are making can reveal where to focus or veer off.
4. Know and be yourself
There is a quote I heard recently: “I used to be afraid at failing at something I loved, but now I’m more worried at succeeding at something I don’t care about.” Let’s stop imitating the competitors. Let’s stop writing just to meet imaginary expectations. As a company and as an individual, you are unique. Why was your company started? What drives your leadership? There is something at the core of why you exist—find it, embody it, and speak with purpose.