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Up Your Game: 4 Strategies to Humanize Your Content

Forge & Spark Media Team discussing content strategy

Content is still king. It’s a well-worn mantra, but it continues to ring true. Content is, without question, still one of the most effective tools organizations have to bring their brands to life and connect with their customers, clients, and stakeholders.

But here’s the thing. Like content, not all monarchs are created equally. In fact, as anyone with even a passing interest in history will know, while some rulers were beloved by their subjects, others were reviled.

So, what does all this have to do with content? 

Well, like good rulers, what separates great content from the crowd is its ability to genuinely connect with people. No matter what format it takes, great content should humanize your brand. It should be entertaining, informative, and engaging for readers—something that’s reader-friendly that they actually want to consume. 

It’s not always an easy task, but if you want to up your content game, here are four strategies you can employ to give your content a human touch. 

1. Tell don’t sell

Human beings are natural storytellers. From the earliest days of civilization, we’ve passed down information through narratives, using them as a way of making sense of the world around us. 

To humanize your content, you need to put your reader at its heart. In its simplest form, this involves a “tell don’t sell” approach. Every piece of content you produce, you should be thinking about what it can do for your readers rather than what it can do for your company

Think about the ways in which your content can assist your customers, what information or advice it can provide them, and what value it can add to their lives. Modern consumers are savvy—they can spot when they are being sold to, and instantly switch off. So, if you are going to engage with them or encourage them to share your content within their own networks, you have to offer them something valuable in return.

2. Create an emotional response

People may be consuming your content via a screen, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make them feel something. 

Emotions play a key part in creating a connection with your audience and humanizing your content. They create a bond, a level of trust and openness that logic alone cannot recreate. In order to generate real relationships, you need to put a little bit of yourself into every piece of content you produce.

It could be awe or amusement, excitement or inspiration; the key is that if you make your audiences actually feel something, then they are far more likely to engage with your content and share it among their networks. Take for example the Terry Fox Foundation’s most recent video, which manages to tug at the audience’s heartstrings using nothing more than 30 seconds of footage and nine simple words of text. 

There are some easy ways in which you can imbue your content with emotion. Spark conversations, encourage feedback, discuss your opinion on important issues, showcase your values or even your people. Even if you are using content to promote a product or service, you can engender some emotion into it by telling readers how it will impact their lives rather than simply listing its features. This is where tools like case studies and even your own staff can help to humanize your content and create an emotional connection with your readers. 

3. Inject some personality 

Your customers are human, your stakeholders are human, your team is human—possibly even superhuman in some cases. So why produce content that is designed for robots? 

Sometimes marketers fall into the habit of being too formal. It could be that you are sticking strictly to your business, leaning on industry jargon, or writing more for search engines than for actual human beings. But whatever you are doing, it’s easy to forget that like all good storytellers, the very best content is packed full of personality. So don’t be afraid to show yours off. 

A great recent example is Rip Curl’s “The Search,” a series of first-person documentaries, travel logs, and blog posts that bring to life the personalities behind the products and the wanderlust that we all associate with the surfing giant. 

People connect with other people, so an easy way to humanize your content is to show off the humans that make your organization what it is. Showcasing your staff, whether it’s featuring them in your content or actually getting them to produce it, is a great way of adding personality to your organization. 

Likewise, don’t be afraid to move away from traditional writing rules and inject a little personality into the content you produce. Are you funny or serious? Do you want to inspire people, to educate them, or entertain them? By deciding who you want to be as an organization you can ensure that it is something that is reflected in every piece of content that your company produces. This will not only put a personal stamp on it, but help to stand out from the crowd online.

4. Do something good

People increasingly gravitate towards organizations that are giving something back, or doing something to make the world a better place. It’s not surprising really. The world can feel like a scary place at the moment, which is why people increasingly gravitate towards good news and brands that help to give it to them.

We’re not saying that you have to be saving the world single handedly, but doing something selfless, something that is not overtly about the bottom line, can really strike a chord with readers and humanize your brand. At Forge & Spark Media, we’re part of Pledge 1% that supports non-profits in our community and we stand by our mission to support companies doing good work in the world.

Perhaps your company runs a social initiative, or your staff give back to the local community. Maybe you’re trying to reduce your environmental impact or raise awareness about a particular cause. By doing something good and telling people about it, you show that you care. And there’s nothing more human than that.

Want to learn more about organizing your content for a more powerful online presence? We’d love to have a conversation about your strategy. Schedule a time to talk or send us an email at hello@forgeandspark.com.

Daniel Bettridge
Daniel Bettridge
I’m a writer, editor, author and social media expert with more than a decade’s worth of experience working at the highest levels of the industry for publications including The Guardian, The Atlantic, BBC and The Times.