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  • July 11, 2014

5 Ways to Humanize Your Online Communications

Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes courtesy of Josh Haynam, the co-founder of Interact, a platform for creating lead capture quizzes. He frequently writes about using content effectively and getting the most from it. Follow Josh on Twitter @jhaynam

There is way too much spam on the Internet to risk sounding like a computer in your messaging. When you spend the time to sit down and craft content or a marketing message, the last thing you want is for the message to bounce off of deaf ears because it sounds too canned. After analyzing more than 1,000 quizzes created at Interact, we found some common threads that carry through the most personal-sounding quizzes and pulled them out to be shared here.

1. Use your own vernacular. I do proactive live chat for tryinteract.com sometimes and ran a little test to see how word choice affects things. The control group was “Hi, can I help with anything?” tested against “Howdy, can I help with anything?”

I’m not actually from the south or anything, but I do use the word “howdy” in real life – it just feels friendlier. What I found with the test is that using the word howdy resulted in a 50% increase in responses, and people I chat with are much more likely to convert.

I’m pretty sure the word “howdy” isn’t written into any programmed auto-responders, and by using it people realized there was a real person on the other end of the live chat and responded.

2. Make jokes. I’m not saying you have to be Chris Rock (he’s a comedian), but inject a little humor into what you’re doing. One of my favorite quizzes ever is about North Korea, and one of the questions in that quiz is “Who Would Win in a fight: Chuck Norris or Kim Jong Un?” This is a low-key joke but it still makes me realize there’s a real human on the other end of the quiz and I lose some of my edge. 

3. Tell Stories. Stories are powerful, and we each tell stories in our own unique way. By telling stories your natural personality will shine through, further reinforcing your status as a real-live human on the Internet.

4. Reference Pop Culture. Make comparisons to celebrities, use them in your jokes, use them as nouns. For example “You really Kanye’d that one” Referencing recent events not only ties you to the same culture as your readers, but also proves that you know what’s going on in the world.

5. Speak directly to people. Create a conversation by using the words “you” and “I”. Back in school I was told not to use those words, which is a good indication that you should use them if you don’t want to sound like that boring professor who put you to sleep every time you went to class.

Having cookie-cutter content simply won’t do with the amount of competition vying for your readers’ time. You’ve got to connect with your audience by sounding more human and establishing some rapport. It works for quizzes, and it’ll work for your content as well.

Let me know your experiences with speaking more humanly – did it work for you or not?


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