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Does Social Media Let Brands Be More 'Human?' Hopefully Not

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September 14, 2011

Does Social Media Let Brands Be More 'Human?' Hopefully Not

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Amdocs (News - Alert) blogger Jessica Zimet recently shared some reactions to a post on Fast Company brands called “For Brands, Being Human is the New Black.”

Now hold on before going all Benetton here; it’s just talking about how lately brands seem to be portraying themselves as “more open, honest, kind, down-to-earth, and I would add, accessible.” Zimet thinks social media’s had a hand in that, since we customers can now interact with brands -- we have a voice. We’re somebody.

Zimet thinks that since the advent of social media interacting with brands, they’ve sought to become a bit more “human” -- as she says, one thing she’s heard is ”you don’t do business with companies, you do business with people.”

True enough, but again, the very definition of a “brand” is something that can be expected to act the same way, provide the same experience or product, time and time again. Yes of course people are behind that, but when it comes to branding we’re all collectivists -- the whole is what we’re after, not the sum of its parts.

But Zimet’s right about how social media means you, the customer, “can connect better with your audience, with your customers, when you relate to them from one person to another.”

Again, it seems like a bit of a distinction without a difference. There’s probably a difference between how a person from, say, Deadspin would interact with a site visitor than a person from L.L. Bean customer service or the IRS site. We wouldn’t want the IRS person’s branded personality from Deadspin, and -- I’m sure -- vice-versa.

Bottom line: Social media does give us customers more of a voice with a brand, more avenues to contact a brand, but just like we still want the brand to react consistently across varying touchpoints, we want the people from that brand to do so as well.

Nothing personal, all you good people who interact with us customers on social media channels, but we want your brand, not you.

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David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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