Image of young woman passing heart to older woman. Empathetic Marketing concept.

Strategic Empathy in Social Media

Tony LopezSocial Media

Marketing with strategic empathy can help enhance customer acquisition.  We know how to use big data, extracting key insights about our consumer’s habit and purchasing patterns to better present them products and marketing campaigns. But big data insights only go so far. There is still an additional element to bring in for the final point: the human emotion factor. This is where we use all of the insight we’ve gathered, combine it with the psychographics of our consumers, use focus group result and real-time responses to put ourselves in our customers’ shoes.

Empathy is a natural way of connecting with another person, but it requires effort. We must let go of our own agenda- in this case, selling a certain quota, and reorient ourselves to the campaign from the consumer’s point of view. What does the customer actually care about today? What’s on their mind? It probably isn’t your product. It is most likely a busy schedule, a world event or a snafu with a friend or family member.

Constantly trying to relate to your consumers will continually build a platform of mutual respect, deepening every time you learn more about one another, and your audience recognizes that you understand their thinking patterns.

What does it mean to market with strategic empathy?

Empathetic marketing looks different for every brand. For a retail giant like JC Penny, it looks like offering more coupon options and maintaining low prices for the discount shopping that this audience relies on. For a tech-oriented shop like Sharper Image, it means evolving the store into a tech-centric experience because this audience is always reaching forward in innovation.

Marketing with an empathetic goal is not limited to sales and marketing campaign projections. Your social media campaign offers an unwavering platform on which to connect with consumers through current events.

Drawing attention to current events- sometimes related to your industry, sometimes not, is important because it is already occupying your consumers’ minds. Customers no longer settle for brand loyalty based on product performance. They side with brands they believe in. Brands that believe in the same missions as their consumers. As much as your consumers become advocates for your brand, you become an advocate for your consumers in the realm of life where your voice must be large enough to be heard.

You already care about the world, so show your consumers through social media empathy! As always, it’s important to follow a few best practices. Let’s take a look.

  • Pain in community

When there is a pain in the community, address it. Offer kind support and soft words of good thoughts. Whatever you do, do not draw attention to the fact that you are affected or that you are doing a good deed by posting. This should be obvious, but do not use the message to incite any purchasing behaviors.

  • Being careful with word choice

By now, you know that one wrong word can cost your brand its life. Before you send out a message, run it through your entire PR team and then your office. Get a sense of reaction from the small sample population you have at hand. If anyone suggests the possibility for offense, reword until benign is your base.

Encourage employees who are passionate about the situation to post, too. This shows that employees of the company care for reasons greater than brand representation.

  • The power of the pause

In times of crisis- even if you don’t yet know the scale of the crisis- it is best to pause your social activity. The last thing you want is a newsfeed saturated by emotional sentiments for a community loss to don your tweet about today’s sale prices.

This is why it is crucial that you also maintain a keen eye on public, community and global events. Even if you don’t respond with a social message, pausing your activity is the respectful way to react and silently join the conversation.

If you receive emails and brand-related messages, respond to them. Pausing does not mean halting all company activity; it means pausing sales-focused initiatives through your social and advertising efforts.

That brings us to another point- advertising efforts. Work immediately to halt social media ads. When news feeds are focused on world tragedy, it’s unacceptable to pop in with a sales pitch. Don’t forget to have your manager pause your media!

  • Industry news isn’t always the most important

Be mindful of the spectrum of events taking place. If a community tragedy unfolds the same day as a competitor goes public, the community interest wins. You can report on your industry story as a past event in the near future. If you have trouble determining which events take precedence, ask yourself what people care about from a human interest point of view instead of your brand’s point of view in a business scope.

If it feels like we’ve just encouraged you to become a news source, good. You understand that you must pay attention to the news and address issues. However, you most certainly are not a news source, and your consumers have other brands that occupy that role. Pay attention to current events, but do not solely focus on them. Comment when your heart is in it, and be mindful (extremely mindful!) of pausing in the wake of tragedy and immense change. Continue reporting on industry news at the right times. Your brand should be represented as a competent member of your industry just as much as it is a compassionate member of this world. Balance is key!

Marketing with an empathetic emphasis might seem complicated at first, but it is critical to brand success. The more you research and get to know how your consumer’s feel and to react to situations, the easier it will be.

Bringing integrity into your work will never lead you astray. For a stellar professional team that can confidently lead your brand to the top of your industry, get in touch with Executive Digital. We will work with you to build a campaign that is unique to the product and story you offer and develop a strategic plan that you can use down the road as your company grows.


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Tony Lopez