Once upon a time, in the days of the Mad Men, advertising was all about appearances. Executives wore sharp suits, guzzled whiskey, and smoked like chimneys as they devised ways to make your products look flashier than anyone else’s. From peanuts to Packard cars, ad execs wanted to put your brand’s name in flashing lights–the glossier the page insert and the brighter the colors, the more success (and vast sums of money) lingered within your reach.
While modern marketing and advertising practices are still geared toward putting your brand head and shoulders above the rest, those glossy magazine ads have lost a bit of their glimmer. Consumers began to “get wise” about the facade presented by shimmering, over-saturated pictures and realizing that what they saw wasn’t always what they got. In the decades following the advertising glory (and impeccable fashion) of the 1960s, advertisers found that they had to increasingly jump through hoops to gain the attention of their target consumers. No longer was it enough to slap a pair of high heels and some big hair next to a car to get the reader’s engines purring–the increasingly contemporary consumer would turn to the reviews of friends and family members to find out if they were going home with a lulu or a lemon.
Now, don’t be too hasty to grab your picket signs and march down the street, chanting, “Advertising is dead.” With the advent of the Internet and the rise of content marketing, a fresh and unexpected venue for advertising has appeared: social media. What was once thought of as a place for teenagers to take pictures at odd angles and express their frustration with their parents has transformed into a simple, elegant way to connect with customers and a keystone for the human marketing revolution.
With the decline of visually-based interruption marketing, advertisers realized two crucial things:
- The power of any commercial enterprise rests in the hands of the consumer, and
- Consumers had gained investigative skills that heavily weighed the company’s integrity, honesty, and availability.
Keeping an eye on the growing trend of word-of-mouth and referral marketing, social media became a frank and effective way to gain the consumer’s trust, respond to questions and complaints, and provide comprehensive solutions to real-world problems. Thus, social media has become a tool for consumers and marketers alike, taking a very human-centric, emotional, and collaborative approach for every transaction.
In that sense, the Mad Men of yesterday have become the Happy Men of today. Brands no longer want to bombard their customers with gaudy imagery and highly inflated egos; they want to work with the customer, to create a personal connection and thus to elicit an emotional response. Take a look at this brilliant example of human social marketing at its finest:
By truly listening to and connecting with patrons, TD Bank cemented their position as a helpful company, and surely gained many more loyal customers in the process.
On the surface, such campaigns may seem like nice, yet ultimately unnecessary gestures. However, there are numbers to back up the effectiveness of human-focused social marketing:
- According to the CEB Marketing Leadership Council in partnership with Google, customers who engage with personalized, emotional messaging are 20% more likely to make a purchase at any stage of their decision
- Behavioral scholars at Wharton determined that content eliciting high-arousal emotions (i.e. awe, surprise) is 34% more likely to be shared
- Pleasantly surprising your customers can help you exceed their expectations and delight them, making them more likely to spread the good word
Today, the question of creating a social media presence for your brand is not an “if,” it’s a “where.” As your brand’s representative, you have innumerable opportunities to connect with your clientele and bring them delight through social channels. When they understand that you care, they’ll reciprocate the feeling.