What Is a Humanized Brand & How To Humanize Your Library

People like people.

It’s as simple as that.

Some of the most successful brands on social media are brands that don’t act like brands at all. They’ve managed to humanize themselves. This drives massive brand loyalty and engagement.

Your library is a brand. And as library marketers, we all have a similar mission to promote our collections, resources, and events. But how do we do that on social media without being a pest? A great first step is to humanize your brand. By relating to your followers and becoming “one of them” you’ll make better connections and get better social media results. And that’s great for everyone!

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So, what makes a humanized brand?

Here are five traits humanized brands have in common.

Humanized brands don’t see themselves as a brand, they see themselves as a friend.

This is a big first step. Changing the way you view your library’s purpose on social media is key to humanizing your strategy. Treat your social media followers similarly to the way you’d treat them if they were standing across from you at the library circulation desk. Your library’s social media platforms should be an extension of your library’s frontline service. You want your social media users to see you as a good friend, the neighborhood librarian who is here to help and maybe even entertain them a little. Your customers will be much more likely to listen to a friend than a brand. That will come in handy when you have something particularly important to share.

Humanized brands talk with their customers, and not at them.

This is really an extension of the friend theme. Good friends don’t talk only about themselves all the time, right? Good friends don’t constantly talk “at” you either, right? Good friends listen. Good friends are interested in what you’re interested in. Be the good friend! One of the biggest mistakes brands make on social media is constantly trying to sell something or talk about how great they are. Every expert will tell you: Social media is supposed to be social. That means you need to interact with your library fans. Promote content that will engage them. Make an effort to figure out what they like. Once you start talking with your customers instead of at them, you’ll establish a network of loyal followers who won’t mind the occasional, casual library promo.

Humanized brands don’t rely solely on automation.

Putting your social media platforms on autopilot and relying solely on scheduled, automated posts is about the least human thing you can do. You’re letting a robot do all the work. I suggest a mix of automated and realtime. You need to have the flexibility to respond to trending topics or participate in timely conversations while they’re still relevant. Using the “set it and forget it” method on social media is a bad idea. If you do this, your customers will catch on. They’re savvy and will notice if things look too planned and too canned. Because, let’s be honest, our love for droids is limited to a select few:

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Humanized brands know if it talks like spam and looks like spam, it’s spam.

Before you publish anything on social media, you really should ask yourself: Is this spammy? Talk about perhaps the fastest way to lose followers. Millennials, in particular, have an incredible eagle eye when it comes to spotting Internet spam. We’ve adapted to shifting through a reasonable amount of digital junk mail while surfing the web. But there’s something that seems sacred about our social networks. Don’t be the spammer! Do not post clickbait, or misleading headlines, overly pushy sales posts, sensational verbiage, or clearly repetitive posts. Find smarter ways to connect to your customers and serve them content that they’ll organically enjoy — while still getting your message across.

Humanized brands are conversational.

Write like you talk. It was one of the first things I was taught in journalism school. Audiences are much more likely to connect to, retain, and engage with conversational language. So, go ahead, unbutton the first couple of buttons on your social media platform’s hypothetical dress shirt. You can be relaxed in the way you write copy and still maintain an appropriate level of professionalism. For starters, lose all the “inside baseball” (or in this case, “inside library”) language. Don’t use terms only you and your fellow staffers use. Write the way you’d talk to your mom or someone who has no idea what those library abbreviations and nicknames mean. Strike “patrons” from your vocabulary. Would you want to be called a patron? It sounds terribly stuffy and unnecessary. Replace it with “customer”or “reader” — or even something fun like “library fan.”

How do you humanize your library on social media? Please tell me in the comment below! 


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Learn more about the author.

Opinions are my own. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of my past or present employers.

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