Brands should act more like people

We can’t avoid brands interfering in our daily newsfeed on social media. A ‘like’ here, a ‘like’ there and suddenly all kinds of brands have found their way to your personal social routines. Now your screen features discount offers, product information and purchase invitations to all sorts of products. In my opinion, that’s not what social media is all about. I miss the dialogue and a truly social behaviour by the brands. But what does it really mean to be “social”? For the brands, being “social” often focuses on one thing: More likes, more fans and ultimately a higher turnover.

But why? Why is it that brands expect to increase their ROI by entering the social media landscape? Because it’s a new channel they feel compelled to use? Or because they, in reality, want to make the brand truly sociable? Sociability creates bonds between people – and possibly between people and brands. But it doesn’t make you sociable just being in social media.

You’ve tried it a hundred times. You find yourself glancing at a brand’s Facebook page. It’s filled with product information, competitions and unanswered questions in the brand’s attempt to kick-start some activity and dialogue with its fans. Instead, the brand should start acting more like people. For example: Know your fans as something else than demographic clusters. “25 to 45-year-old women.” That’s not how you would describe a friend, is it? Sociability entails human behaviour and for that reason true sociability is more than a mere technology adoption.

Take for instance; in a group of friends outside of the social media scene, people know each other. They’re being social together and they foster a great energy and dynamic between them. In doing so, they pull other people toward them. But they are all aware of their own personal role or value in the group and because of that their conversations seek to maximize each person’s potential energy or impact. But what about brands? How many of them know the people in their circle? The people who buy their product? The people in their communities? We need to get better at really knowing people as people. Especially in social media. So you’ve gained fans. But do you know them? Are they the people you want as fans? What do they like? What’s their role in your group? And their value?

Ford is an example of a brand that puts customers first. In their new program “Ford Social” the fans submit their stories and ideas to Ford and the community. Through this, Ford can really get to know their fans. Not only do they know what car people bought – but why they’re important to them and what stories go alongside with the purchase. That’s inspiration right there!

So being sociable means having to understand not just how many fans you have, but who they are and what role they can play in your social universe. Dive in, pay attention to what they’re talking about and be interested! Even though it takes effort, brands have the opportunity to truly have a conversation and learn more about their fans in the process. Like a real friendship. And in doing so, they can push beyond the simple thought of the ROI of gaining a fan.

What do you think? Do you know a brand that acts more like people?

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