Only 48 percent of Americans trust business, according to the most recent Edelman Trust Barometer. It’s easy to think of companies’ involvement in social media as a necessary evil, especially in this social media age where corporations’ missives are displayed with those of our family and friends.
Businesses try to counteract our distrust by behaving more like citizens, with snappy status updates, grainy Instagram photos, and lots of pronoun usage. Even Facebook acknowledges that it intended Timeline—and the corresponding death of default landing tabs—to force companies to be more human.
The art of the humanization gambit is the seemingly random stunts that smash our expectations for a how a brand should behave. These usually involve some sort of over-the-top gesture on the part of the company, like Peter Shankman’s interaction with Morton’s steakhouse at Newark Airport last year.