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To be successful in marketing today, companies need to be more human. As we revealed in a recent blog post and a webinar, customers expect companies to speak to them clearly and genuinely - to embrace a human-to-human (H2H) approach.

But how does an H2H approach in marketing look like in a business setting? In this week's roundup, we look at various ways companies embrace this concept. These companies engage their customers frequently on social media and insight communities. They've abandoned "sales speak" in favor of language that's more familiar and more human. And when they made mistakes, they quickly apologized.

If you're looking to embrace the H2H approach, here are some examples to emulate.

  1. Exterion Media engages its urban audience in ongoing conversations.

For Exterion Media, formerly known as CBS Outdoor UK, gaining regular insight from its consumers has helped drive sales in very tangible ways. In 2012, the out-of-home advertiser launched '', its proprietary insight community of nearly 10,000 urbanites. Ongoing conversations with the urban audience people who consume the adverts on Exterion's inventory on a regular basis have transformed the way the company does business.

Insights from have been fundamental to developing the sales strategy within the organisation and are now integral to the sales team's success at Exterion. Quality insights help support the sales process and many media planners, allowing the buyers to make creative and logistical decisions using insights gained from the community. A range of high-impact, dynamic deliverables including infographics, category booklets and interactive research dashboards help prompt conversations. It also gives the sales teams the ability to advise clients in creative advertising approaches, as well as placement and format. -- European CEO

Tweet this!For @ExterionMediaUK, embracing the #H2H approach means engaging its audience in ongoing conversations. (CLICK TO TWEET)

  1. Starbucks turns to user-generated content.

Starbucks is launching their first global brand campaign- and they are putting their customers at the center of the story. For the campaign, dubbed "Meet me at Starbucks, the coffee giant isn't focusing on products like it normally does in its ads. Rather, it's focusing on the brand by chronicling a day in the life of a Starbucks through a mini-documentary, shot in 59 different stores in 28 countries. Starbucks said the campaign aims to show the "beautiful moments of connection between our customers around the world.

The beauty of this campaign is that it is multi-dimensional- anyone can participate in "Meet me at Starbucks campaign isn't limited to those customers featured in the documentary film- anyone can tell their story and share it via social media. On Instagram, Starbucks will launch a photo series called #HowWeMet, which aims to encourage people to share stories of getting together at Starbucks. -- Celia Brown, The Customer Edge

Tweet this!Want to make your brand more human? Follow the lead of @Starbucks and embrace user-generated content. (CLICK TO TWEET)

  1. DiGiorno Pizza says sorry.

In the wake of the news about NFL player Ray Rice's suspension on evidence that he had physically abused his wife, women took to Twitter to share emotional stories of their abusive relationships. They used the #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft hashtags labels on Twitter that can be clicked for anyone wanting to see all the tweets on a certain subject.

Then DiGiorno leapt without looking, and on its brand account, the tweet appeared: "#WhyIStayed You had pizza.

The message was quickly deleted, but not quickly enough to go unnoticed. Outraged Twitter users responded, calling out the Nesté SA-owned brand for an offensive comment one person called "an insult to all who deal with domestic violence.

Immediately, the account began sending out apologies. But they deviated from the general playbook of crisis management. The person managing the Twitter handle began apologizing to as many people as possible, individually. -- Susan Krashinsky, The Globe and Mail

Tweet this!Taking a human approach on social means admitting when you make mistakes. Great example from @DiGiornoPizza. (CLICK TO TWEET)

  1. Taco Bell shows sass on social.

Taco Bell saw the need to be active in the social sphere early on, but it's the team they put behind their content marketing that really allowed them to advance to where they are today. Their account on Twitter is extremely active. But the content is clever, witty and to the point. They don't just provide updates, like "New menu item coming out this weekend! They banter with their customers, dish funny comebacks to their haters, and even get a little controversial by calling out other brands. They've humanized a fast-food restaurant to be a funny person, one that people look forward to hearing from each day. - Chelsea Riffe, Loyola Digital Advertising

Tweet this!On social, @TacoBell embraces a more human approach through its clever, witty tweets. (CLICK TO TWEET)

In your opinion, which brands are doing a great job showing their human side today? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @VisionCritical.

How to Use an Insight Community to Improve Customer Experience

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