NewsWhip’s WhipSmart 2.0: Humanizing Your Brand

Humanizing data was the name of the game at NewsWhip’s most recent conference, WhipSmart 2.0 “an annual data-fueled summit for our community of communicators, publishers, news hounds, journalists, PR experts and others, where we discuss and debate intelligent storytelling in our world today.” I was excited to attend with fellow S2 team member Kate Schaefer – if there are two things we love, it’s data and humans (and learning about data and humans).

There was a large range of panel topics and speakers, all of which would be breaking down various topics and providing insight to issues that media professionals come across. Panel topics ranged from the future of content to socially conscious brands. It was refreshing to see the variety of speakers and their diverse backgrounds, which really allowed attendees to see the value of different perspectives.

Panel Insights

The day started off with a panel focused on the ins and outs of reporting to different audiences. Polly Rodriguez, the CEO, and co-founder of Unbound, Colin Jones, of VICE, Maia McCann of RockYou (and, formerly, LittleThings) and Andy Sullivan of Al Jazeera gave insight into how to reach underserved markets. One of our first main takeaways came from this panel:

  • “Viral has gone out of vogue,” McCann explained.

In the vast sea that is the internet, consumers are now looking to connect on a deeper level than they once were. Despite contrary belief, it’s not all cat videos and memes – people are looking for brands and content that resonates with their core values and beliefs.

Be Human

Between panels, NewsWhip provided some really insightful stats – did you know that the average length of the top engaging Facebook video was 1:25 last year, but this year, it’s nearly double that at 2:45? Interesting, right? Also, they provided some straightforward insight that seemed to be the overarching theme of the afternoon, for the simplest way to connect with your audience:

  • “Be human. Tell stories.”

Transitioning on how to connect with your audience to which content to connect with, NewsWhip shared some insight on the infamous emoji. They aren’t the first and won’t be the last to relate emojis to hieroglyphics, but it was eye-opening to see the numbers behind our love for them. The most used emoji? “Crying laughing.” Also, emojis are present and gaining popularity in more ways than one. According to data gathered by the team at NewsWhip;

  • Emojis are invariably prevalent in daily conversation, but in news headlines, too. In fact, nine out of ten of The Financial Times’ top performing posts included emojis. Emojis #FTW

“Socially-conscious” seems to be a hot button topic across industries these days and with good reason. When you’re looking to connect with a brand in a more meaningful way, you want to know that their ethics are reflective of a brand you want to associate with. Dan Mazei, of Reebok, put it like this;

  • “Standing for something now is the cost of business.”

So, if some of the largest companies around are hopping on board, it’s got to be good for business, right? It’s true. Casey Depalma, of Unilever stated it simply, “Socially conscious…sustainable brands grow faster than brands who aren’t.” But how do you know if you’ve gone too far? We’ve all seen a brand take up a cause that felt like a reach, to say the least. Chris Rackcliffe, Director of Social Media Engagement Strategy at Aetna, summed it up nicely,

  • “There needs to be a reason you’re doing it. You need to be able to provide value.”

Meaningful Connections

So, there you have it folks. If you are a brand and you want to authentically reach today’s consumers, you need to be more human, and be able to find a meaningful cause and connect, emotionally. The best way to relevantly do this is by telling real and authentic stories through your brand, while still staying aligned in it’s values and image. Authentic quality over meaningless quantity is the name of the game. (Also, lots of emojis never hurt ????) Here’s to building trust and meaningful connections, while simultaneously building our businesses.

Special thanks to Kate Schaefer for sharing her insights for this blog post.

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