Is there a human in there? #6 #cong14

By Aisling Nelson

Aisling Nelson #6 is-there-a-human-in-there

How can we be more human on the web? This is something that has fascinated me since I set up my first business in 1998. I began blogging in 2008 because I knew that my static website didn’t show my personality. And if I’m totally honest, I wanted to avoid having to attend any sort of networking event (That’s all radically changed, I promise!)

So, how can we reach through those grey screens and make human connections with people? I’ve learned that it’s like all social interactions. We have to be good at listening, being open and being patient. I learned something unexpected too - the relationships you build with competitors and peers are as valuable as the ones you have with customers.

I train businesses how to write a blog but what I really do is show people how to be human online. I don’t claim to get it right all the time but here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

What do you do and why should I care?

Get really clear on exactly what you do and who you help. Make it equally clear what you don’t do and who you don’t help. If you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll appeal to no-one. Respect your customers' time and make it easy for them to know if you’re a good fit.

Can I trust you?

Write a good ‘About’ page with a professional and friendly photo of yourself or your team. This is the hardest thing for most people to do.

It’s a living work in progress - don’t take yourself too seriously!

Write it in the first person and remember that your business is about you but only in the context of how you can help your customer. Include your business address and the name or names of your team - it’s amazing how many businesses say ‘We do x,y,z … email us at'

Can I relate to you?

Use conversational language and drop the corporate lingo. Read the content out loud and see how it sounds. Would you use these words if you were talking to someone in person? If it bores you, it will bore the person who is reading it! It’s possible to be professional and personable.

How does your brand make me feel?

Make your website or blog a place that’s pleasant for customers to hang out. That means no flashing animations, lots of space (preferably white) and clear navigation. Remember, your brand exists in the mind of your customer and is much more than your logo design.

How do you do business?

Quality product images and detailed descriptions of services are essential.

But your customer is also interested in ‘behind the scenes’ peeks into your business. Find ways to share your beliefs, processes and day to day insights.

Check out the patagonia blog ‘The Cleanest line’ -

Entertain me

We go online to learn something, be inspired or entertained. Most businesses find it easy to share knowledge or inspiration. We also need to find ways to entertain our customers by varying the content we share. Audio, video and visuals are powerful ways to make emotional connections. Become a curator of interesting content; it doesn’t have to all be yours! Just make sure you credit and seek permission first.

Watch Heston Blumenthal’s video about The fat Duck - Like a kid in a sweetshop

What do I do next?

If we are in business, we are selling products or services. Hold your customer by the hand and guide them through the process. Make it obvious what the next step in the process is.

Suggested reading: Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug

And here is one final thought to get you thinking…

There will always be people with similar skills to you - what sets you apart is your story and how you tell it.

Click to Hear

CongRegation © Eoin Kennedy 2017 eoin at congregation dot ie