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Is your company building an online personality that stands out or are you simply going through the motions?

This post is entirely inspired by the sheer genius of Groupon.com, a company that sends out a daily email of discounts and deals.

Maintaining interest in a daily newsletter isn’t easy by any means and inevitably a large number of people will regularly unsubscribe. When they do, they get to meet Derrick:

Now, if that doesn’t get you to re-subscribe, nothing will. At the very least, it ensures you leave with a positive last impression.

Building personality

Groupon.com is a great example of a company behaving personably online and there are many other excellent attempts.

A company that creates a likeable corporate persona will find it easier to build and maintain customer loyalty. Not only that, they’ll be less susceptible to brand-damaging hostility, both on and offline.

This kind of marketing clearly only works for certain brands, they have to be able to take a few risks. But most online businesses could do wonders by injecting a little dynamism into their web communications.

But, like everything that makes online marketing work, it’s not easy; it takes work and may need some investment.

On top of that, adding personality to your brand is riskier than simply building a standard online presence.

Done well, though, the payoff in customer loyalty and brand reputation can be considerable.

Ideally, you want to do something really unique, like Groupon.com. But if you’re struggling for some inspiration, here are some things you can do in the meantime that will lay the foundations for a personality-filled online presence.

Write a blog

I’m a big believer in corporate blogs. Not only are they fantastic for organic search engine optimisation (SEO), they also engage the customer in a way you cannot achieve anywhere else.

A good blog post freely offers information and advice, but it’s also the first step in a conversation.

Your readers can respond, criticise, argue with each other and more – you’ve created a space to make that happen and that’s admirable.

On top of that, an online article is necessarily chattier than a brochure, landing page or marketing content. It should feel more honest and shows the humans behind the brand – all useful for building a people-friendly corporate persona.

Have a properly written website

You probably spent quite a bit of cash having your website designed and built – but did you give as much thought to the words on the page?

Well-written copy is created with a clear corporate personality in mind and should mirror the feel of your page design.

Safe, boring, functional copy is unattractive. It doesn’t create a personality that any normal human would want to be near, and it doesn’t drive sales.

Get everyone involved

Innocent Drinks, the company that makes those smoothies, has brilliantly personable marketing, both online and off.

One thing it does quite cleverly is involve its entire staff. Through its website, you can see pictures of all its office-based workers, as well as a little bio. You can even email them.

If you choose to ring the ‘Banana Phone’ then the team takes it in turn to pick up.

Okay, it’s time consuming and does leave staff open to some potentially weird conversations, but it shows how everyone can get involved in building a brand personality.

Tweet like you’re human

It is possible to bore people in just 140 characters and a dull Twitter feed will turn potential clients off.

Sure, you might still get followers – especially if you’re running competitions and offering freebies – but they won’t care about your brand unless you inject some personality.

Have very clear tweeting guidelines so that whoever looks after the account knows what they can and can’t get away with, but then take a few risks try out some new ideas.

Post interesting links, engage in conversations, tell stupid jokes – particularly if it’s all relevant to your sector.

That way, your followers will look forward to your tweets instead of putting up with them in order to get freebies.

Respond to comments

One of the best ways to create a likeable corporate persona is to respond to online comments, whether they’re criticisms, feedback, praise or just random observations.

By replying to comments on Twitter, your Facebook page, your blog, even other people’s blogs when you notice them, you show you care, that you’re not a big, bland brand which is above talking to individual customers.

Make your responses interested, sympathetic and human. You can often turn a negative customer experience into a positive one, simply by listening – which all helps your company’s image.

Kevin Gibbons

Published 31 January, 2011 by Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons is UK Managing Director at digital marketing agency BlueGlass. He is also known as an SEO speaker and can be found on Twitter and Google+.

102 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

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Marcel Soleda

Hey great article! Looking forward to meet you guys this February.

over 5 years ago

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Sally

Has anyone ever tried buying anything off grouponbot dot com ? Does it work even if your not in the same city?

over 5 years ago

Alice Morgan

Alice Morgan, Freelance digital marketing consultant at FreelanceSmall Business

Thanks. Very useful.

One of the many things I do is to train people to write web copy - and to get them away from the sort of "perfectly suited to a modern lifestyle" approach.

Not all businesses are sufficiently nimble (especially the pan-European ones I work for) to be able to offer Innocent-style personability, but it's definitely true that any business can communicate in a more personal and relevant-to-the-customer language. That surely is part of the conversion path discussion.

over 5 years ago

Toby Kesterton

Toby Kesterton, Head of Digital at Lab Lateral

Apart from one example (on their much hyped unscubsribe page) this article does not evidence any personality from Groupon. More research need.

over 5 years ago

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Thiaghu Radhakrishnan

Great work!! You guys are looking forward to achieve the groupon clone...

over 5 years ago

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