It’s hard to forget one of the biggest flubs of the 2012 Presidential Campaign. Mitt Romney, running for the Republican Primary, was asked a question on social security and the deficit. In response, he spoke about how they could balance the budget, and a heckler said that they should raise taxes on corporations rather than people. In a move that would come back to bite him, and give his press secretary an unending migraine, he said that ‘corporations are people.’
Now, one can’t blame Romney for his mistake. He was answering a question and said something that, in the heat of the moment, he could have phrased more delicately. Listening further to that answer, he speaks about the role of trickle-down economics and how it can eventually improve the living situations for all.
While Romney would go on to win the primary race, but lose the Presidency; he was endlessly smeared by his political opponents for these three simple words: corporations are people. No one, in their right mind, would say that a corporation has as much right as a person. But here’s the kicker: Romney was right.
No, a corporation should not have the right to vote, or to receive death benefits, or even a drivers license. But they do need to start acting a lot more like people in regards to their marketing online.
One of the buzz words that social marketers use these days (and I’m especially guilty) is ‘H2H – Human To Human marketing‘. The basic idea of H2H is the fact that B2B and B2C marketing (Business to Business and Business to Customer) are redundant on an intensely personal medium such as social media. Everyone, no matter if they’re another company or a potential customer, is a human being, and social media is all about relating to people on a human level.
In their 2013 report ‘Welcome to the Human Era’, Hill Holiday explained just how corporations needed to adjust their marketing tactics for this new H2H strategy.
“Being a Human Era brand goes beyond merely saying that one is more “human.” It requires an authentic story delivered consistently through an inspiring experience. It requires hard work — establishing organizational values and commitments that are customer driven, while also driving them toward daily leadership decision-making and employee behaviors.”
It’s important to note that beyond a story, corporations have to develop and amplify their ‘voice.’ A brand voice is a critical component of any social strategy. Many brands choose to use their social media presence to replicate their traditional marketing plans. This approach, while easy, is fundamentally flawed for the simple fact that social media is not a one-way channel such as radio, television or newspaper adverts. Social media is all about dialogue.
A good social media strategy, for both brands and customers, is to engage with people on a human level. Understand that if people can look past the fact that you’re a brand, they’re far more likely to sympathize, engage and promote you to their friends.
Take this conversation that a customer had with Oreo on Twitter
That person is now going to shout to the world that she had a fantastic conversation with Oreo on Twitter. Furthermore, the Oreo social media manager added a period (.) in front of the tweets which means that they were seen by everyone on Twitter. The increased the exposure of this brilliant conversation ensured that both Lisa and Oreo would receive a significant amount of attention which is something that everyone on social media wants.
But brand voices can also be strange and quirky. Take Skittles for example. Their marketing strategist decided to throw the ‘social media marketing playbook’ (which is always being rewritten) out the window. They got together and said, “screw it….let’s just act all crazy and see what happens” and, strangely enough, it worked. Here’s one of their recent tweets.
The Ancient Order of the Rainbow would eat Skittles in underground temples until someone was like “We could just eat these at the beach.”
— Skittles (@Skittles) December 30, 2015
What does that even mean? It’s not promotional. It’s not conversational. It’s just….there. It’s a weird tweet. But it works. The Skittles Twitter page is a testament that ‘weird works’ because they’ve managed to create a brand voice all about being oddballs. They’re the candy you eat when you’re feeling strange and funky.
As we head into 2016, it’s important to remember that more and more people will be joining social media. There will be more Tweeters, Facebookers, Snapchatters and Instagrammers than ever before and other social networks are going to pop up as well. No matter what platform you’re on just make sure you’re consistent and, to quote JFK:
Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.