How the Heck do I Humanize my Social Media Brand?

By: Abdulhadi Hafez

Or maybe I should ask first, what in the world does it mean to humanize your social media brand? The simple answer to this question is to engage with people on social media sites as a human being, not a business! I don’t mean that you shouldn’t use your business name, logo, and so forth, but rather to talk to them as if you’re talking to your family and friends.

I mean, let’s face it, your business is using social media to promote its products and services and get some leads and hopefully leads out of it. There ain’t nothing wrong with that peeps! What’s wrong is using traditional push-style selling techniques with people online where most of your content and interactions deal with the promotion of your offers, products, and services.

That kind of stuff doesn’t work anymore man! People use social media to socialize, people! Not to be bombarded with more ads, and pushy-sales communications. They get enough of that while diving to work, listening to the radio, watching TV, and even while they’re using public bathrooms! 

Here’s the thing though, people ain’t the same no more. And how they react to advertisements has changed as well. According to Larry Weber’s “Marketing to the Social Web” book, some studies reveal that only 18% of people trust advertisements, while another study by Nielsen suggests that 70% of people trust the opinions of complete strangers online, so imagine how much they trust the opinions of their fiends posted on social media sites!

Social media has changed how humans interact with each other, and how they interact with and respond to brands online. This is why you now see the most successful businesses do what it referred to as “humanizing brands online”, by using the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time they are being transparent, open, and authentic in their communications and interactions with people, while only 20% of the time they are promoting their products and services.

I mean, just have a look at how Ford scored big on their social media campaign, the Ford Fiesta Movement. Ford moved away from the traditional way of selling cars, and used a whole different method altogether generating a huge buzz online and 50,000 interested potential customers, 97% of which don’t own a Ford currently! How in the world were they able to do so? Here are some of the elements that were found in their social media brand:

  • Show the real names and faces of the people behind your company and social media campaigns. Don’t be all corporate-like!
  • Use your real writing and speaking voice in all of your interactions. Not only does this add personality, but it shows authenticity as well. A good example (I don’t like to brag) is this the writing style of this very article itself!
  • Listen and respond to people. Reply back to those who interact with you, thank your followers, and contribute to other people’s posts with valuable input.
  • Post engaging content. I’m talking about things like questions, brain-teasers, polls, and fill-in-the blank statements (e.g. My pet peeve is _______)
  • Be funny and witty. Those 2 traits will not only get you through so many awkward situations, but it will also get you some loving from the ladies (or men!) as well. This very statement is a live example of how to be funny and honest.
  • Use Generation Y language. I don’t mean that you should start swearing, but use common abbreviations and expressions used by the Gen Y people such as: LOL, LMAO, Thx, Hey, ‘How the heck’, ‘What the heck’, etc. It shows personality and relates to the group that dominate social media, the Gen Y peeps.
  • Admit your mistakes! There’s an Arabic expression that translates to mean: “An excuse is more severe than the sin.” If you make a mistake, admit it to the public, apologize and communicate how you’re going to fix it. 
  • Be honest! The most important trait. Social media is about building relationships, and relationships can only built on trust, and trust can only be attained through honesty. 

How to NOT Let Social Media Ruin Your Business Reputation

By: Abdulhadi Hafez

If you were following the news last year, especially on Twitter, you may have heard about Netflix’s disaster story in September 2011 when they unexpectedly hiked prices without giving sufficient notice to their customers.

They cancelled their $9.99 combined streaming and DVD plan and separated the services into two separate $7.99 plans. Anyway, long story short, their stock dropped 50%, a loss of half of its value in the matter of 2 months!

After a month and a half, Netflix lost more than 805,000 Netflix customers due to the unexpected price hike, and do you know what ignited this massive boycott?

There are 2 main reasons:

1) The fact that daunting remarks and negative reviews spread like wildfire on social media, especially Twitter!

2) Their failure to properly implement effective social media public relations (PR) in response to this catastrophe. 

One reason is because they it took 3 months for Netflix to respond to the situation, one of the deadliest sins when it comes to public relations, especially in the social media age where things happen by the second.

I came across two great articles that are extremely useful in helping companies rectify their reputation when faced with a social media PR crisis. The first one is called, The 7 Biggest Mistakes Companies Make During A PR Crisis.

You can read the article in full if you wish, but I will give you the cream of the crop:

  1. Distancing yourself from the problem.
  2. Lacking quick, tangible action to remedy the situation.
  3. Looking insincere in front of the media.
  4. Writing a boring news release and letting things be.
  5. Ignoring customers’ questions.
  6. Keeping the CEO out of view.
  7. Having Vague Communications.

The second article is one that is written by the awesome Mashable, and it’s called 6 Steps for Protecting Corporate Reputation in the Social Media Age. Here are the 6 gems they were so kind to share:

  1. Don’t Pretend a Crisis Is Not Happening
  2. Don’t Make an Empty Gesture
  3. Don’t Refuse to Backtrack
  4. Develop Channels of Communication
  5. Establish a Crisis Communications Response Team
  6. Become Influential and Change Perceptions

Anyway, the biggest mistake Netflix made is that they ignored the angry mob that was formed through social media, and they paid a high price for that. As advertising and PR professionals, we all know that in business, unfortunately, you are what the public think of you, so let’s learn from these valuable lessons and take some safeguards to protect our own reputations along with our clients.

Gizmodo Releases List of the 25 Most Viral People on the Internet

By: Abdulhadi Hafez

As social media users, we all want our content to go viral and reach as many people as possible, but how in the world do we do that? Well one way to find out is to see how the best people do it, and Gizmodo not only gave us one example to follow, but twenty-five examples, sweet!

In their article, “Meet the 25 Most Viral People on the Internet" they write: These are the ones who can. When they post something to a website, Twitter, or Facebook, it’s almost assured of blowing up. Meet the 25 most viral voices on the Internet. As depicted in the above image, one of these “people” seems to be a cute kitten.

No we’re just kidding, there’s no way a kitten would be able to use a computer, not to forget to have the capacity for intellect of course! The owner of the cute kitten image is a woman by the nickname of Starspirit who is quite successful at using StumbleUpon to share content that goes viral, fast!

The #3 most viral person is a face you may recognize, Ashton Kutcher himself! But you may ask, “dude, what type of viral does this dude share?” Well here’s what Gizmodo has to hilariously say about him:

"Ashton Kutcher may be a cowardly quitter, a cheater, and something of a moron, but let’s face it: Dude has influence. When Kutcher drops a link, mad traffic follows. When he calls out a web service or app (often one of his own) users follow like hyenas swarming a carcass. His authentic (if dumb) voice is the reason we hate to see him handing the keys to his feed to a bunch of soulless social media marketing whores, even if they are from his own firm."

Unsurprisingly, you may be wondering, “dude, where’s the #1 most viral person?” We’ll only provide you with an image of who that is, and if you want to find out who he/she is, feel free to read Gizmodo’s whole article on the subject.