How to Humanize Social Media in 2016 and Why it Matters
Being Human in Social Media and Content Marketing Means Being Mindful
That PITA. You know it when you experience it. It’s that ‘pain in the ass’ person that destroys value with every communication he or she makes. You’re busy. So, you avoid the call, email, website, everything. You stall getting back to the person because the time to do so is valuable time wasted.
What happens when, God forbid, you become the PITA your prospect or customer avoids? Hey, it happens to all of us at one time or another. And most of the time, we don’t realize we’re doing it. Here is the wake-up call: That PITA tax tells us we’ve stopped being human in our communications.
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It’s an issue because it means you complicate lives rather than simplify them – so people avoid you. This ‘invisible’ tax is a steep one to be paid: it costs relationships and business. Today, everyone is on overload. People are busy. They don’t need more content, more info and more social media. What they need is more human content that helps, simplifies and humanizes their work. You’re either a complicator or a simplifier. If you’re in the neutral zone or a complicator, you’ll be quickly relegated to irrelevance and the trash folder.
Mindfulness is a ‘Human’ Operating System
This is why being mindful and being more human matters – in all you do across your marketing and social media. If you have a great relationship with your prospect or client, they will likely tell you when you’ve crossed into the killing value zone. You’re lucky if this happens. Most people won’t tell you, me, your friend, etc. because we don’t like conflict. We don’t want to have “that conversation.” It takes energy and that isn’t worth it. That means they don’t value your relationship or business. It’s a tax that really hurts because you don’t even know you’re being billed until it’s too late.
How Do You Know If You’ve Stopped Being Human and Adding Value?
Most of the time you won’t know with certainty. Sometimes you will – you’ll have an inkling. Trust your gut. Here are some signs to watch out for:
• Your prospect or customer goes dark
• They cancel consistently on you (“something comes up consistently at the eleventh hour”)
• They don’t even open your emails
• They’re always busy (even when they’re playing games on Facebook)
• They’re not excited to talk to you (and, no, they are not your in-laws!)
Now, yes, sometimes your prospect is legitimately busy, or their priorities have shifted, or there has been a re-organization. It doesn’t always mean your lack of simplicity and clarity are a contributing factor; however, I recommend using these opportunities as times to re-evaluate all the ways you reach out to your prospect to see where you can humanize and streamline. (And you should re-evaluate before these things happen! Buy, hey, you’re human, too.) Because when someone stops calling you back, they don’t know what to say to you. They don’t know how to tell you. That’s a big clue that something is off.
Easy Ways to be Mindful and Human with Social Media in 2016
Leading with mindfulness means leading with empathy. What would you want? I doubt it includes more vapid communications. Because you are human. And so are your prospects and customers.
It means understanding that your audience is busy and needs help solving problems. They don’t need more emails, more stuff, more info. Sometimes little changes can mean big results. So here are some good places to start in my experience when thinking about mindfulness and being human:
1. Map out all your touch points and ways you communicate with your customer. I mean everything. This will help you see obvious things. And, call your own voicemail from time to time. I can’t tell you how many times I get “on vacation” messages from people and those messages are months old. Is anyone minding the store?
2. Look for ways to streamline. Ex: look at your response times, how many touches it takes to close a contract, review your newsletters (what are the open rates), look at your social media engagement, how many emails you’re sending…and on and on. Are engagement numbers up or down? What’s
working, what’s not. Be honest with yourself. Trim what isn’t working. This is a great thing – allows you to focus on fewer things that do work. Can I get an AMEN?!
3. Ask your best customers or prospects you do have good relationships with for feedback. Ask them how you can be more helpful, more inspirational, more human. People who like you want you to succeed and they will tell you when something isn’t working. Listen to these people! Tell them you are looking for ways to make their lives better. Don’t shove a survey in their faces. Call them and ask for 10 min of their time (stick to the time) or hire someone to get that data if you feel that a neutral third-party would make it easier for your respondents to be direct (I have done this for clients). Thank them. When you tell people you want to make their lives better, most will be appreciative. That’s a very important framing for getting feedback: you want to make their lives easier. Take the top 3 common challenges across clients and create content around that. Go deep.
4. Look at what prospects and customers do on your site (not just what they say). Look at all your analytics. If 20% of your content is earning all the engagement, create more of that content. The rest is a tax on your time and resources, and a tax for them because it’s more stuff they don’t need. Be a better filter instead of transferring that role to them. That’s time they don’t have. I have never had a prospect tell me they want more emails or calls. It has never happened. Filtering is your responsibility. When customers and prospects get more quality touches focused on them, now you are adding value and respecting their time. That is being human and mindful.
5. Be willing to challenge your own and conventional wisdom assumptions. Too many businesses I talk to are so automated on a content schedule because they are told that is what they are supposed to be doing, that they are creating more to be ‘consistent’ rather than creating content that is relevant. Stop. A schedule is create but not if it pumps out more crap people don’t want or need. Step back and ask yourself, do we need this piece of content? How does it help people? Is it of value? You may not need it. Do you need a newsletter? Do you need a newsletter post every week? Maybe you only need it once a month. There is no one size fits all here. Be willing to cut things that don’t help your audience.
If you are sending too many communications that lack value, people will block you. It’s that simple. Send communications when you have something of value to offer your audience. When you don’t, don’t. Who cares about your content schedule? That’s an artificial issue – not your audience’s problem. More content is not better. Go for fewer, yet higher quality communications. That’s being human.
6. Test those assumptions. I sent a short message in one of my newsletters that said, “You are busy. You don’t have time for lots of stuff. So, I am changing my publishing schedule and the types of content I publish to make your life better and easier. Moving forward, we’ll be doing more short videos on topics you tell me you want to hear about.” That’s all it said. The response I received was very, very positive and appreciative because I was thinking with empathy and telling them, “I get it. You have too much to do. Let me make things easier.” That’s key. Don’t do stuff because you think you have to. Be willing to challenge and test those assumptions. You may not be correct about your initial assertions. That can be a great place to add value.
I am proud of my work and newsletter, and even I have deleted a newsletter because I didn’t feel I had anything new to share. For me, ‘staying top of mind’ and keeping to a schedule just for a schedule’s sake are poor reasons because I am making things about me when I should be making every connection count by making it about by customers and readers. I know what conventional marketing often says. And I strongly disagree with some of it. That’s how important it is to me to be of value.
How do you simplify, humanize and streamline to reduce that PITA tax? I’d love to know. Leave me comments! Happy holidays!
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