Digital strategy for brands: the value of empathy

nathanFor brand marketers who couldn’t make it to General Assembly‘s recent workshop featuring  Nathan Miller, here’s the Speak Media summary and analysis of key themes from the day.

The value of empathy

One big theme from the first session of the day was how to start making decisions about your brand and how to then apply this to your desired consumer. Once you have your consumer in mind it’s time to start asking questions. What do they see and hear? What do they really think and feel? What is their pain? This process, when applied to an ideal customer (real, or imagined) can give marketers real insights, or empathy, with the people they are trying to reach. Once you’ve worked out who your customer is, it’s time to start healing their pain with your particular product or service.

Speak says: As an exercise in empathy this is a great way of getting to grips with some of the ways your consumer might be thinking, but there’s always a risk when you make the inductive leap from assumed (albeit reasonable) ideas about your audience to real-world applications. We’d always back up these assumptions with more detailed analysis of the customer – based on qualitative and or/quantitative research – in order to find out exactly what their pain is, before setting about healing it.

Getting the tone right

Tone of voice is still a challenging area for many brands, and this portion of the workshop was focused specifically on the difficulties in getting the tone right on social. Tone should be determined by what you use social for; if you use it as a customer service tool then you will have to keep the tone straight-laced and professional, equally if it’s about engaging your audience a more playful and conversational argot is appropriate.  Of course playing it straight isn’t always the way to go, and these widely praised and shared tweets from O2 are an example of when a brand can win big by letting a little bit of personality shine through a chink in the corporate veneer.

Speak says: Telling brands to deviate from their usual style is always going to be a tough sell, especially as marketers are usually the ones driving home the importance of consistency in tone of voice. Nevertheless, the benefits of breaking the fourth wall in this way are hard to dispute. If in doubt, hire an agency with a strong editorial portfolio.

The importance of an editorial calendar

Another point concerning social was how useful, nay essential, an editorial calendar can be in orchestrating your brand’s social media output. It’s important not to be too specific about the types of posts you want to be creating and at which frequency – a broad strokes approach is fine here and avoids putting too much pressure to produce posts with very specific content. One question from the floor was about the timeframe within which brands should be scheduling posts on different platforms – as a general rule, came the response, brands should plan Tweets on a weekly basis, and Facebook posts should be scheduled on a two or three-week cycle.

Speak says: Editorial calendars are a powerful tool and we think that generally they’re a must for any content publisher. However, it isn’t enough just to draw up a weekly or monthly schedule and then write to it. The way that you create and publish should be informed by a longer-term strategy. Ask what your posts convey about your brand, are if you’re communicating a strong, over-arching message that supports your marketing strategy. As you become more confident as a publisher, try to produce a larger piece of content then atomise it over a 3 or 6 month period.

Author: Tom Owen

A strategic storyteller and compelling content creator, awash with acuity and adept at alliteration. I work for Speak Media.

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