05 April 2021

Human connections define our digital world

Remember the 90s? Even if you weren’t around at the time, you’ll have heard about how different technology was back then. You had your Walkman, your camcorder, your VHS player and your Gameboy. Four separate gadgets that met four different needs, all packed together in your coolest JanSport backpack. Radical, dude! Things sure have come a long way since then. Not only are all these functions available to us on a single device, we are able to switch from work, to shopping, to socialising, learning, exercising, even parenting — all at the tap of an icon. We do miss watching Saved By the Bell on a Saturday morning, though...

And just as teen comedy dramas have drastically changed, so too have consumer expectations. The world in which we interact has shed its boundaries. Every second a customer scrolls through social media is a second they could change their brand preference. Scary stuff, hey? A bit like when your teacher would confiscate your Tamagotchi—*shudders*. Choices are now infinite and decisions are made within a nanosecond, which is why we need to understand what happens in these moments, and how best to capitalise on them.

Lucky for you, this is something we know a thing or two about! The answer lies in changing our approach to consumers and engaging with them as human beings. The digital landscape isn’t really about technology. No, it’s about relationships. And we’re not talking about the “single, married, or it’s complicated” kind of relationships either. 

Treating consumers like customers is no longer good enough. They expect a direct connection to brands through social media; where the content they consume is personally catered to them. So, how do we create these connections using only the nanosecond decision window available to us? We use a tool that every human is born with. That’s right: emotion!

Branding demands commitment; commitment to continual reinvention; striking chords with people to stir their emotions; and commitment to imagination. It is easy to be cynical about such things, much harder to be successful.

Sir Richard Branson

According to psychologists, emotions are the foundation for 80% of the decisions a person makes in a day. This means that consumers are more inclined to buy into a brand based on their emotions rather than logic. Basically, what we need to do is elevate the human experience. Connect emotionally to the consumer, create loyalty and trust, then align with their values. This is especially important in the backdrop of Covid. People are becoming more isolated and introverted, craving more meaningful experiences and authenticity from brands.Of course, we know how to achieve this. Let us show you how!

Being human

Take a look at your social media platforms, imagining yourself as the consumer. Ask yourself: What will enable a connection with another individual in this moment? What could be done to create a thought-provoking experience? What senses can we titillate (yes, titillate) in order to evoke emotion?

It’s a need, not a want

Think about what needs we have as human beings. How can you use technology to proactively meet them? A great example of this is Oreo’s campaign to celebrate the connections people have made with each other during lockdown. Parodying telecommunications companies that promise to "supercharge connectivity", The Playful Network offered 50 website visitors a day a "free connection pack" of personalized Oreo cookies by delivery. They met and acknowledged the human need of socialisation and inclusion, all the while playfully celebrating the emotional connections humans create and seek comfort in. Right on!

Hold on to humanity

Once you’ve considered the previous points, it’s time to execute your ideas with humanity. Are you able to recognise what problems your customers are personally facing? Can you be fast enough to meet them at their time of need? That need might be to slow down and build a connection. Did you ever think about that? Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it.

The keys to brand success are self-definition, transparency, authenticity and accountability.

Simon Mainwaring

Authenticity over everything

Your customers are not a silly bunch. Unlike Harry in the classic romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally, they will be able to tell if you are faking. Be authentic at all times. Depending on your brand personality, talk to your audience as if they are your friend, colleague, family member, pet goldfish. Whatever it is that will enhance the authenticity of the human experience. Remember: while consumers are quick to praise, they’re also quick to shame, so don’t go pretending. No posers.

When you are led by values, it doesn’t cost your business, it helps your business.

Jerry Greenfield

You’re only as good as your values

Finally, our best advice on connecting with consumers is to always, and we mean always, lead on values. When your audience shares the same moral compass as you, that’s when a transformational change happens. You’re in the same corner, fighting the good fight. If you stick to your values and stay consistent with your humanity, they will be with you the whole way.

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