Don't Forget to Be Human.

Author:Smithfield, Taylor

To become successful in a changing competitive landscape, you must provide consumers with experiences that form deep emotional connections and champion brand love. People are no longer satisfied with being viewed as mere customers. They crave real relationships, especially with those they entrust their hard-earned money to. Personally knowing the people who farm their food or manufacture their cars matters to them.

They also want to be seen and heard by companies, rather than merely being on the receiving end of the relationship. This is why businesses have begun thinking about their customers as an extension of their team--partners to shape and create their brand alongside them.

Naturally, one of the best ways to connect with a large following is through social media. Today's consumer can tweet Taco Bell or comment on one of PayPal's Instagram photos and actually receive a speedy, thoughtful reply. Customers not only want personal communications, they now expect them. They're interested in real relationships--in the people behind your logo and storefront.

Making Genuine, Meaningful Connections

Due to this demand, brands are parting ways with traditional B2B and B2C approaches in favor of a more timely, relevant trend: H2H or a human-to-human approach. In a nutshell, H2H is how businesses creatively form these meaningful relationships. The more conversational, empathetic, inspirational, humorous and story-driven a brand is--essentially, the more they become human--the more likely a genuine, meaningful connection is made with their audience.

When you open a dialogue with customers and make them feel heard, they'll be more likely to spread your brand message on your behalf. Brands able to leverage the collaborative power of their communities can benefit from major increases in customer loyalty. Not only will customers be more likely to spend their dollars on your products, they'll feel as if they have a meaningful stake in your brand's evolution and success.

ROI: Return On Innovation

Another way to challenge your business mindset is to think beyond the traditional definition of ROI and additionally start measuring your return on innovation. Investments made in brand perception are invaluable because loyalty and brand love cannot be bought.

Businesses with the most passionate customers are also the ones who've built the most social equity. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram aren't seen as distractions to the main event. They don't fight progress...

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