Social Media and Emotion: Once More With Feeling…
Many businesses are on social media because they know they have to be, but a mistake the vast majority of them make is thinking that they have be monotone and emotionless in their exchanges because they are representing a business, not a human being.
Just stop to consider your own personal social media habits for a moment. When you scroll down the news feed, you see posts from friends, family, maybe the occasional brand’s post because you follow their account. Now what drives you to ‘like’, share or make a comment on a post or Tweet? It’s usually because the post invoked some emotion in you, whether it’s a cute picture of your baby cousin or your distant friend’s dog, or maybe it’s a thought provoking post about someone’s sadness or a silly joke or titbit of information that made you smile.
Whatever the emotion and whether it is a negative or positive response that it invokes in you, you can usually always guarantee that you reacted to the post because it made you FEEL something, however small and fleeting.
The Emotional Barrier in Business
The problem most businesses have when communicating on social media is that they are trying to be ‘businesslike’. They think that businesses should remain corporate and professional when it comes to communication as that is the way it has always been. Correspondence between the customer and the company has always been a strictly business affair, with most customers only ever contacting a business by writing a letter of complaint or calling in an issue with their purchase!
But the internet, and in particular social media, has changed how customers and businesses communicate. It is no longer a one-way street, where business run advertising campaigns and customers take them in via billboards and newspaper ads, without having much say about it unless they got riled up enough to complain.
Now, thanks to social media, it no longer feels like ‘them and us’. The customer is on a level playing field with the business, and they have an easily accessible way to instantly contact the business (or at least the social media manager). And the business also has an instant way of communicating a message with the customers.
Posting the message is the easy part, but it is getting the customers to listen and take notice that is the hard part. That is where emotion comes in, and is the reason why the few businesses that are successful on social media are making such an impact.
How An Ordinary Pen Became A Way Of Life
Emotion can be immensely powerful when harnessed by businesses on social media, take Sharpie for example (Note how I don’t even have to tell you what product Sharpie sells? Now that’s success for you!).
Sharpie doesn’t do anything that can’t be done by any business, large or small. The reason I chose them as an example case study is because, unlike many large companies with unlimited marketing budgets, Sharpie don’t necessarily invest a whole lot more in their social media campaigns than a small to medium business would. And the results they get are phenomenal. The secret ingredient? Emotion.
The above image is taken from Sharpie’s blog, and features some inspiring DIY bits and bobs, not done by Sharpie themselves, but by their customers. The blog’s tagline reads ‘Where we share the amazing stuff people do with Sharpie’ and that is exactly what it’s all about. The blog is packed with great ideas about how customers have made use of the simple pen. They always give credit to the customer who sends in the content, which is the key to why this blog works so well.
They don’t have to create any content themselves, because it is all provided by the customer for the customer, and by giving credit to their customer and spotlighting their content they gain an emotional response. People want that thrill of seeing their own content shared on Sharpie’s blog and social media channels, and will then want to share it with their own friends and family, who will then in turn share it with theirs.
And the ideas are so creative that they inspire others to do their own DIY with the pens too, therefore enhancing sales and creating loyalty to the pen brand. And that is how Sharpie turned an everyday item into an emotional brand and a way of life.
Generating Feeling With Social Media
So, the real key to making your social media campaign work is not just having a page and posting about your business on a daily basis. It is about connecting with the customers on an emotional level, and breaking down that barrier that creates the ‘them and us’ feeling.
Companies are run by human beings just like the customers they sell to, but when hiding behind the company image it is easy to forget to be human. Take the corporate appearance out of the equation, and create a personality for your company that compliments you’re target audience. And be real, human and emotional in your posts. Place your audience at the centre of your social media strategy and take into account their feelings and emotions, and they will reward you greatly for it.