Five companies with a human social media presence

human social media connection


By Mandy Edwards, {grow} Community Member

Right now “being human” is an important theme for businesses. But how do you achieve this across an enterprise? I thought it would be interesting to look at five organizations who seem to be connecting in a particulaly effective way.

Mark Schaefer stated in a recent article that we need to strive to be be more human because “Ultimately people will buy from who they know, who they trust.”

Our customers want to relate, be accepted and be noticed. Many businesses are catching on, whether “signing” their tweets like The Bank of Ireland, or restaurants that now accept “tweet ahead seating,” businesses are infusing their social media presence with life and acknowleding the needs of their customers.

I spent time looking around the web and thinking back to experiences I have had and these five businesses stood out in a human way.

American Cancer Society

They engage with their online community responding to fans and congratulating survivors in an intimate way.

cancer 2

They feature everyday people on social media and in their YouTube videos in their quest to raise money to cure cancer.

They actively reach out in many ways and connect with people through active involvement. An example is hosting a Google HOA with GE Healthcare to talk about cancer prevention. They also reach out and feature actual survivors in much of their content:

human social media connection


Chick-fil-A is a chain of restaurants that gets involved in whatever their raving fans are doing on a local level, whether cheering at a football game or celebrating a birthday.

chick 2

The company is one of the few that is effectively integrating their paid advertising presence with social media connection. Their “spokes cow” has its own social media account, adding whimsy and fun to the company personality. You will find him everywhere and in everything. He (she?) brings the company to life and creates opportunities for social sharing and covnersation.

The company also connects to real-time events and conversations … like a World Cup goal from the home team: chick

Sprout Social

Sprout shines a light on their customers every chance they get and makes them the stars of their social media scene. For example, they feature their customers in weekly best practice articles.

They also empower their employees to have their own Twitter handles to engage with the community.

Any time a fan or customer mentions them, they always respond and don’t be surprised if you get rewarded for your support!


When employees tweet on the corporate Buffer account, they always sign their name so you know who you are talking to.

They maintain an extraordinarily transparent business operation. Search “transparency” on their site and you’ll see all you want to know.

The company received kudos for the immediate and transparent way they handled downtime that resulted from a hacking attack. It was a bad situation, but they actually helped create customer loyalty by the very honest and human way they handled the crisis.

Buffer also publishes a weekly online diary letting us know what they are working on and who is doing what. It’s almost like you’re part of the company.

WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment)

Every person in this huge entertiainment franchise has their own Twitter handle and the WWE empowers them to use it to their advantage — staying real and promoting human connections. It adds an extraordinary element of intimacy to a business based on grand productions.

The WWE also takes an active role working with child-related charities, the Special Olympics and efforts to support the military. Showing their heart through social media posts helps fans connect in an emotional way.

Post by WWE.

The WWE encourages their fans to tweet with them during each of their live shows. Michael Cole, one of the announcers, will read fan tweets at random, making them feel like they are part of the show themselves.

When looking at these businesses, I saw four themes that helped them stand out and connect in a human way:

  1. They were active online in both posts and personalized responses
  2. They were engaging with their fans on a local level
  3. The companies gave back to their fans in a way that enabled emotionall connection
  4. They encouraged individual employees to build direct emotional connections with customers

How does your business measure up? Are you striving to be human? Are there company examples you would like to share?

mandy edwardsMandy Edwards is the owner of ME Marketing Services, providing social media consulting services. Follow her on her blog, Twitter and Facebook.

Top illustration courtesy of Flickr CC and B.S. Wise

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  • Beautiful examples, Mandy, made even better by the range of enterprises you share. For those who tend to see WWE as silly and cartoonish (as I confess I do), your profile is a good reminder that the real human interaction that enriches our lives can come from whatever passions, interests, or foibles we share with others. Looking forward to your next post!

  • Brooke Ballard

    This is awesomesauce, Mandy, and I LOVE your examples! I especially love that you highlighted Sprout Social. If I could get half our clients to humanize and storytell the way they do — well, I’d be a lot more successful. Keep up the great work. 🙂

  • We just signed up for Sprout Social and I love it!

  • Gerry Michaels

    Very nicely done Mandy. although I have to say that I cannot say Buffer is the company it once was. They are starting to slide into the impersonal corporation side in my latest dealings with them. It is unfortunate that what was once an actual email correspondence has evolved into a generic form email. Not that I saying they are a bad company, but I see the changes happening little by little. I think that may just be from growth, does growth foster a less personal customer service experience by necessity? Just a question.

  • Thanks Gerry!! I do think that growth has something to do with it. As some companies get larger, they lose that human, personal touch.

  • Thanks Brooke 🙂 Sprout was one of the first I thought of when writing this post!

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  • Thank you Pete! Despite all the opinions of the WWE (which I side with your opinion), they do a remarkable job. My husband grew up watching them and still does! They really do a great job with their social presence.

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  • Mandy!! You totally made our day. BIG smiles over here. Thank you!

    I always enjoy hearing from you and the other SSC ladies (shout-out to Brooke and Mallie), so thank you for your support of Sprout over the years. It’s absolutely appreciated.

  • Brit you guys deserve it! You do a remarkable job and I’m proud to be a customer 🙂

  • Sara Nickleberry

    Great post Mandy! I have always admired Buffer’s social presence. They get it!

  • NicoleMillerbooks

    What an amazing honor to be listed amongst such awesome companies! Thank you so much, Mandy!

    I love that quote by Mark Schaefer and find it to be so true!

    Hope you have an amazing day and look forward to connecting with you more in the future!

    Nicole 🙂
    Community Champion at Buffer

  • Jennifer G. Hanford

    Nothing better, in my opinion, than companies that aren’t afraid to show their “human” sides and stick to their guns.

    You’ve written a wonderful article, Mandy. I like your super examples of companies that really know how to engage with their followers. They’re doing it right – and so are you!

  • Thanks Sara!

  • My pleasure Nicole!

  • Thanks Jennifer! These companies should be admired for what they are doing!

  • Thank you so much Mandy, for this great article, highlighting companies that interact online in a way that sets such an great example for all of us, who are communicating with our community members online. Sinecerely. Lise-Lotte. Community Manager at

  • I would add @Sherwin-Williams to the list. They actually reached out to me to help solve an issue I posted about on Facebook and they continue to engage with me and my content. Color me impressed.

  • That is awesome! Don’t you love when companies show they care?!

  • Thanks Lise-Lotte!

  • Herb Silverman

    Thanks for a great story. I especially like your Chick-fil-A. Their warm, open approach to not only social media but customer service second to none. Thank you for sharing.

  • Thanks Herb! I had the pleasure of working as one of their unit marketing directors for a few years and it’s a phenomenal company.

  • Herb Silverman

    It is! Have a productive week!

  • People respond to faces. They respond to people in front of the business. When you think of Apple, Steve Jobs’ face immediately comes to mind. When companies can find that medium where they can be both personal and helpful to the client that’s a great thing!

    I’m not a big company Mark, but I still believe in portraying a face for “Relationship Marketing”, building FAQ’s that people can understand and apply, and in general trying to be more personal with the brand.

    What’s your take on G+ pages in this aspect? How can one portray the G+ page as being personal when they usually have a company name representing in place of the individual? For instance, my G+ page is (that’s actually what comes up when I comment on G+), do you feel that this leaves something to be desired when people see comments from my page or can this be overcome?

  • Thanks Wade!

    I’ll answer your question about Google. I have a business page along with my personal. I tend to use the personal more since I am one with my brand. I use the business page to put out articles, more business-type content. I use the personal for that as well, but I make it more personal, to build that relationship. I see more people using their personal Google Plus to make the connections rather than their business page.

  • I basically do the same thing. I’m using my personal brand to connect more with people on G+. But there’s a product that is really helping me connect with a targeted audience on G+ called CircloScope. It seems that there is really no way around the G+ brand page and connecting with people like that, we just have to keep at it.

    Some people don’t care if you’re replying to them as a page but to me personally it just seems impersonal.

  • I have not heard of CircloScope – I’ll have to check that out!

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  • Hey Mandy,

    I made it by to check out your post here at Mark’s blog and well done.

    I have to actually agree with what Wade is saying because I’m not really a company, I’m an individual but even when visiting a company type site I prefer connecting with people instead of the brand.

    I decided not to have a business page on Google+ mainly because I am my name and I’ve had my account in place since they started. I’m more about building relationships anyway. I share a little of everything on my personal page but it’s still about the connections I can make. These companies that you shared here absolutely do a wonderful job of this especially the American Cancer Society.

    Thank you for sharing this Mandy and showing us which companies are doing this the right way.


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