Creating an Engaging and Human Based Digital Strategy
In a recent interview by Social Media Examiner’s Michael Stelzner, Bryan Kramer discussed the topic of digital marketers struggling to create a real connection with their online community as their communication strategy lacks essential yet basic human elements. The discussion covered what digital marketers are currently doing and ways they can better engage with their fan base. The following covers highlights from the interview, including examples of brands actively communicating with their customers, plus tips on how businesses can incorporate a human 2 human (H2H) approach to their online marketing strategies.
The Evolution of Marketing Communication Strategies
Kramer started the interview by pointing out how we as humans are taught to communicate but not how to be social. Engaging and socialising with others is a skill we learn that cannot be taught. Traditional communication strategies were typically one way, which meant being social was irrelevant. Today’s marketing strategies are much more consumer focused. Companies now strive to connect with, engage and activate customers through the use of emotive content, online personalised shopping experiences, sensory marketing and creating a two-way dialogue. Social media platforms allow brands to directly connect with consumers, hence why there’s been a large influx of brands on social media.
The global mass adoption of social media has created a magnifying glass effect where everything is available for anyone and everyone to see, read and share. Businesses are struggling to find their voice in the world of social media, and need to learn how to be social and create a two way dialogue with their audience. Some businesses are holding back because of fear, which Kramer breaks down into three different types of fears:
- Fear of not being on the latest social media platform
- Fear of saying the wrong thing
- Fear of engaging with customers will negatively impact the business
The result of the first fear is marketers jumping straight onto a newly release social media platform without any agenda or strategy. This is largely because they don’t want their brand to miss an opportunity or sit back and watch other brands succeed in that area. The common result of the second and third fear is companies not saying anything at all.
Businesses can overcome these fears through education. It’s crucial to understand your consumer’s interests and how to have an online dialogue with them. It will make a huge difference when people feel like they’re being listened to and communicated to on a personal level.
Understanding the Context Through Active Listening
Society’s daily communication style has changed significantly over the past decade or two. The everyday use of texting, emailing, instant messaging and other non-verbal communication styles have altered our approach to connecting or responding to others. Non-verbal communication styles can be very impersonal, leave room for interpretation, misunderstandings and allows important contextual information not to be fully conveyed or received. This is because only a fraction of the message context is being communicated. There are 3 elements that contribute to the overall context of a message when delivered face-to-face:
- Verbal (7%) – The message itself. The words alone that are communicated
- Vocal (38%) – The voice. The intonation, projection and resonance of the voice that carries those words
- Visual (55%) – What people see. The facial and body expressions.
This means less than 10% of the full context is being communicated when tweeting, posting or writing comments online. This leaves a large portion of context to the imagination when you don’t know the person behind the words. The lack of personalisation removes the human aspect, making it extremely hard for brands to create a true connection with their consumers. It’s crucial for marketers to actively listen to their consumer to deliver more personalised content.
Kramer provides a great example of how Virgin Atlantic airlines engaged with his tweet about the airline company. On the way to speaking at a conference, Bryan tweeted he was flying with his favourite airline, Virgin Atlantic. The airline reached out to Bryan with a retweet that included the location of where he was flying to, a piece of information he hadn’t mentioned in his original tweet. This means VA researched where the conference was being held to provide a personalised message in return. Bryan was incredibly surprised and touched that such a large corporation had the time to take that much care in their message back to him.
The conversation evolved to talking about companies needing to create more personalised experiences with their customers. Kramer said businesses need to stop thinking they’re B2B or B2C, and start thinking themselves as a Human2Human (H2H) operation. The online customer experience needs to be more humanised regardless of who their end customer is. Whether it is the user interface of a website, or a social media platform, each aspect needs to be simplified and considered from a customer’s perspective of how they will interact with each digital element. This brought about the topic of incorporating the six basic human needs in a digital marketing strategy.
Integrating the Six Human Needs in a Marketing Strategy
During the interview Stelzner reflected on how it’s easy for marketers to view leads as a number or a statistic. Stelzner continued by explaining that it’s easier to quantify success in numbers, creating an effect of non-humanising customers. Kramer explained brands are going to be more successful by talking to consumers on their level and making it relatable to them. This can be done by factoring basic needs of humans, with one example being the need for variety. People who are bored and tired will often go elsewhere seeking new and different experiences.
Lady Gaga is a great example of how to successfully leverage the human need for connection. She has a massive online following and doesn’t respond to tweets and facebook posts due to the sheer large volume. Instead Gaga invited her top 1% of fans to an exclusive online community. This in turn makes fans feel significant and more connected to the singer.
In another interview by Michael Stelzner, there was a conversation around companies using their social platforms as another communication channel to distribute their own branded content. Marketers are publishing the same content across their various social channels, which quickly becomes highly repetitive. Businesses that do this are focusing too much on the media aspect of social media, and not enough on the social. It means the variety in content is lacking and there’s little reason why fans would want to connect or contribute to the brand’s community page.
Kramer recommended brands should evoke emotional responses with their audience to establish or enhance connections. Delivering content that makes someone cry, laugh or has some positive reaction to the subject matter is great way to effectively engage fans. Sensory marketing is a great approach to activate fans. This form of marketing incorporates different types of media and content that utilises different human senses through the use of visuals, audio, video and photography.
- Learn and understand how to create a more human experience for customers
- Actively listen to conversations from your fans to fully comprehend the context
- Incorporate the six basic human needs in your content strategy
- Provide stimulating content that will activate and engage your fans
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