Biz Tips: Being Relatable Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

Biz Tips: Being Relatable Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means


Being Relatable Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

“Hey, there’s this SpongeBob meme that everyone’s sharing at the moment. We should post one so millennials will relate to us.”

“Hey, maybe if we mention how much we love a Netflix binge, people will think we’re relatable and down-to-earth.”

This is what I imagine the conversations sound like in many marketing departments.

“This is what everyone’s into right now, so we should be into it to. It’s called being relatable!”

The thing is, this is a complete misinterpretation of the word ‘relatable’.

It isn’t about getting onboard with the latest trends or finding out what TV show your target audience is loving right now and tweeting quotes from it. You can bring these things into you social media marketing strategy, but if that’s all you rely on then you’re missing the point.

All to often you’ll witness businesses that are trying to be THAT friendly and ‘relatable’ brand that’s everyone’s best friend.

They’ll have seen Innocent’s Twitter page and shouted “now that’s what I want my brand to be like!”.

But Innocent have it down to a fine art. They’ve got some really funny and witty people looking after their social media who create original content that doesn’t seem forced.

Nailing the ‘down-to-earth’ and approachable brand image isn’t easily done. If you try and emulate Innocent’s social media feeds, you’ll probably wind up looking like you’re trying to be ‘down with the kids’ instead, i.e. it’ll look forced and people will see straight through it.

So, what does being ‘relatable’ mean?

Firstly, you have to understand that if you’re selling something, social media users will always see you as a business or brand. There’s no avoiding that.

Innocent is still a company trying to sell a product, and people are aware of that. Don’t think you’re fooling anyone into thinking you’re on Twitter just for the fun of it.

Once you’ve accepted this, you’ll realise that being ‘relatable’ probably isn’t doable. How can a consumer relate to a brand?

Try replacing the word relatability with likeability.

You want to be a business that people like. And to do that, you need to show them that humans are at the forefront of your business.

They’ll relate to your employees and, in turn, will like your business.

No one likes a faceless, corporate business. You don’t want people to find it hard to believe that there’s actually a living person controlling your Twitter account.

Humans are funny, emotional, and intelligent (for the most part), and sometimes they cock up.

ASOS recently tweeted about a big cock up involving their bags.

Whether this is a marketing stunt or not, it makes people laugh and say “I’d hate to be the person who messed that up”. Because they’re thinking about the people working behind the scenes. Humans making human errors.

Having an employee-driven marketing strategy that focuses on their thoughts and actions as people rather than their role is what makes your employees relatable and your company likeable.

Don’t just tweet about Jen, the Accounts Manager. Tweet about Jen, the human being with a family, an infectious laugh, and an obsession with Marvel movies.

Get Derek, the IT guy who does stand-up at the weekends, to tweet some of his jokes.

Have a big office chair race and film it. Maybe ask your followers who they think will win first.

A brand image that isn’t powered by humans isn’t going to be likeable because there’s no one people can relate to.

Note: I know I used the word ‘humans’ far too much, but I thought mixing it up with ‘homo sapiens’ would be weird.

Being Relatable Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means was originally published in Marketing And Growth Hacking on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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