Commentary: A Human Approach to Connecting with Your Business Audience

It’s easy to separate a business from the people who work for it, to view a brand as an “it” rather than a living, breathing organism.

And while a brand might not technically be a person, it’s imperative to think of your brand in terms of the people working behind it, and the people you serve.

A business-to-business relationship is as much a human relationship as it is a professional one, and recognizing that will help set you apart from the often stiff and boring B2Bs that don’t leverage this approach.

Social listening allows businesses to learn more about their audiences, moving beyond job titles and professional concerns into a richer profile that taps into the whole person including their other interests.

A more human approach

Although it’s common to try to separate our professional lives from the personal, it’s impossible to truly create that kind of division in the way we engage and interact today.

In an office setting, we don’t exclusively talk about work from 9am to 5pm; we also share about what is going on outside of the workplace, letting our immediate network know more about who we are.

The same should be true of our social networks. Years ago, my instinct was to separate my professional Twitter account from my personal one about fitness, wanting to ensure that my clients and followers saw me as focused and on topic.

But, when I shared about what else was interesting to me—specifically my triathlon training—I found a new avenue to connect with my followers that I hadn’t previously considered.

And you know what? I came across as more human and relatable to my followers for doing so. This connection even opened doors to new communities, allowing me to ultimately extend my reach.

Discovering, connecting, engaging

By engaging in social listening, we can discover more about our audience.

Specifically, what are they talking about when they aren’t talking about professional matters? What are some trends we see in the way people engage with other people in the industry, or people outside of it? Social listening helps to identify these trends, allowing us to use them to communicate deeper with the audience.

For example, if your social listening reveals that much of your audience is interested in cycling, you can use that information to reach them in a different way.

Perhaps you decide to host an event at a spin studio, sponsor a fun road race, or simply engage with a popular hashtag.

Although you aren’t directly talking about your business or products, you’re showing your audience that you are interested in more than just your immediate business success.

By connecting with their interests at a human level, it demonstrates that you aren’t just a business; you are also the people behind that business.

This communication technique is part of the B2B2C way of thinking.

Develop relationships more organically

Although you’re talking to another business, you also need to think about the consumer—whether it is an end customer, employee, or another stakeholder.

Using your employees—who are both an audience you need to serve and a valuable distribution channel to get brand message out—helps to build your key relationships in different ways.

Their distinct voices can be used to reach different members of your target audiences by engaging about the brand in ways that are pertinent to that audience. Your core message remains intact, but is translated in thoughtful ways to better resonate with your audience, and successfully keep you relevant in your space.

Connecting with an audience on a more human basis allows business relationships to develop more organically.

The connecting points feel more natural, less selfish, and subsequently have more staying power.

Utilizing the data from social listening has great potential impact on the content a brand puts out in the world. A brand can get granular, discover insights, and come up with an innovative communication strategy that was not previously thought about.

Ultimately, personal content may resonate more than product-specific content, creating a new angle to disseminate your brand’s message.

Through active social listening, we are able to shift our focus from validating what we already know, to discovering new truths. It is using these discoveries to help brands create enduring business relationships and anticipate the needs and interests of its consumers.

Lauren is the founder and CEO of Perks Consulting. Find out more about what Lauren does by clicking here.

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