With all the changes that social media has wrought in the marketing world, you may be tempted to sympathize with your audience at any cost. To avoid getting in the weeds out there, it’s important to balance the sympathy of your message with a good dose of sincerity.
As a company that takes care of digital marketing in Orange County, we see a lot of messages out there on social media platforms. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people relying on the old communication model of pre-social media advertising. Before, the number-one goal was to craft a compelling, well-articulated message: “If you speak it, they will come.” It’s not that this is untrue anymore—but what has changed is that this centralized model is no longer enough for the varied, diverse, and lightning-fast communication infrastructure that social media gives us.
Before, it’s as if customers had no identity—they were just raw material that the company was trying to mine with its ad campaign. It’s abundantly obvious that this is no longer the case. Social media has given voice, identity, and soul to the previously nameless and faceless masses. Now, sympathizing with the ethos of your base is growing progressively essential, and your social media strategy is the best place to start this process.
Balance Sympathy with Sincerity
Faced with the need to reach our customers on their level, companies who are new to social media platforms may find themselves grasping at straws to sympathize with their followers.
Customer: “I like the World Series.”
Company: “I do too! Go Red Sox!”
Customer: “I donate to the ASPCA.”
Company: “I do too! Gotta love cat videos!”
Customer: “I support our troops.”
Company: “Respect and Honor.”
The above is not a social media strategy. Piggybacking off of whatever people are talking about, even though it has nothing to do with your company’s mission or core values isn’t sympathy—it’s annoying and insincere.
Rather, let’s take a step back and look at what a good social media strategy looks like from start to finish:
- The most essential step is to clearly define what your company’s message is. This is done with clear and involved strategic planning. Once you know the values your company operates by, you can craft a social media strategy that is grounded in your own message.
- Next, learn your customers & market. Where does social media fit into the lives of your target audience? What are they talking about? What topics and discussions sympathize with the overall message of your company? Having clearly defined that message, it’ll be easier for you to stay out of the weeds.
- Finally, rather than just interjecting into the conversation, ask yourself what ways your company’s voice can lead the conversation. Example: would you be more likely to click on a blog post titled, “Six Reasons We Make the Best Shower Heads on the Market,” or “Six Ways That Your Grubby Old Shower Head is Ruining Your Chances at True Happiness”? One is a company delivering its message, and the other is a company fitting its message into the broader concerns of the average person. If you have a grubby old shower head that needs replacing (your target audience), then you’re probably going to picture your super-frustrating shower experience from the morning and you’ll be pretty likely to click to see if the company understands your frustrations. This is no longer sympathy we’re talking about—it’s empathy: you’re telling your customer that you know what they’re feeling.
This is how sincerity, mixed with empathy, can give you a unified social media strategy designed around your real message. It takes planning, awareness, and a degree of listening to your audience. Importantly, you’ve got to recognize that you’re not calling the shots anymore. Especially when you’re on social media, you’re kind of on your customer’s turf. And remember—it’s never a bad idea to look into a digital marketing company in Orange County that can empathize with these struggles and can help you make your voice heard out there.