The concept of the faceless corporation was a strong social critique that developed between the 1970s and the Dot-Com Bubble era of the early 21st century. The reticence of companies, particularly multinational enterprises with considerable market capitalization, to engage with the public was received with suspicion and contempt. Such a public relations failure would be inexcusable in today’s climate of digital connections and social media platforms, but the strategies applied by many companies fall short of expectations because they lack a human touch.
When business entities establish a presence on social networks, they should avoid treating their profiles as sales channels or echo chambers. Social media engagement, which is defined as the actions that unfold during communications with followers, should have clear goals. In the process of achieving these goals, companies must strive to present a human side and a personal touch. People are interested in learning about the individuals who are behind the social media accounts they follow, and there should be efforts made to entertain this interest.
The first step in adding a human touch to business social media is to start at the top. Executive profiles can go a long way in terms of introducing leadership to the public, and LinkedIn is one of the best platforms in this regard. Take a look at this LinkedIn profile example for the founder of a car subscription service in the Maryland – Northern Virginia – D.C. metro area; even though it only touches on career and education backgrounds, it includes personal details such as a photo, foreign languages, and recommendations from other LinkedIn users.
Airlines who have turned their Twitter profiles into customer service channels have become mindful of the need for personal connections on social media. In the case of American Airlines, for example, when travelers use the Direct Message feature, customer service reps initiate a conversation that includes their initials or a link to their personal Twitter profiles; should the matter not be resolved within a shift, the departing representative will sign off and introduce the colleague who will be handling the matter.
Southwest is another good example of corporate social media handled with a personal touch. This is an airline that adheres to a philosophy of forging a community with passengers; to this effect, the company often publishes profiles of employees that feature interesting personal information. Some of the Southwest stories that have been shared on their social media channels include profiles of pilots who are military reservists, catering specialists who moonlight as electronic music DJs, flight attendants who care for children with special needs, and more.
Customer service representatives who manage social media channels should be trained to look for clues that present opportunities for engagement. JetBlue Airways is known to train agents to read social media conversation threads carefully; for example, passengers who mention that they are flying home to celebrate a birthday should get a greeting and perhaps a discount if possible. In the end, business owners should keep in mind that their social media marketing strategies are meant to relate to followers on a personal level.