Ep 9: Serious Social – It’s time to get social emotional

Why and how to be distinctive, empathetic and in tune. Away with the clichés, sad music and mentions of challenging times. Brands need to demonstrate EQ in their social content – Katy Howell explains all.

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Full Transcript

Welcome to the Serious Social podcast, created by the straight-talking social media experts at immediate future.

Cliched shortcuts are a mistake for brands when it comes to creating emotional content. This episode was recorded live on Facebook, on Friday 15th May 2020.

Katy –

So, there’s been some really fantastic marketing over the last few weeks, I mean the stuff that hits you right in the heart, fills you with hope and joy and a feeling of community. People who have doing more than paying lip service to empathy and making a real difference. There’s also those brands that are selling, are trying just a little bit too hard with their sad music and their “in challenging times”, “in uncertain times” – the Covid clichés! Laurens is going to post a brilliant compilation in a minute which shows all of them all collated together, it’s very cringe-worthy but, however good or bad the advertising has been so far, the mood on social has changed. At best the kind of Covid 19 support ads are being ignored, at worst their being ridiculed and despised, people have moved on, emotionally. We are certainly in the UK moving to recovery but we’re at different stages, we’ve kind of had enough with you telling us, you know, brands telling us that “we’re okay”. So, whether you’re talking consumer or b2b customers, people make and form emotional connections with brands, and they don’t just buy based on features and benefits or, just because we’re showing discounts, although that can be a great trigger, it’s not an emotional trigger, and it’s a very short-term view of marketing and a very short-term view of social content. Emotions help brands [to] be memorable.

Research, I mean, research for the last god-knows how many years has shown that brand recall and emotions are interconnected. Emotional content boosts recall but it also boosts loyalty, it is memorable, and we want our company to be on the tip of people’s tongues, front of mind when they’re ready to buy. In fact, there’s a bit of neuroscience behind this and I love this, apparently, the brain fires 11 million neurons a second and about 40 of them only ever go through our kind of conscious mind and there is a sort of neuroscience thinking that, reality is what we actually absorb so much more that becomes what we call ‘gut instinct’ and it is that gut emotional decision-making that we’re interested in here.

According to neurosciencemarketing.com “an emotional approach in advertising is twice as effective as a rational approach” which just shows you that sometimes the features, benefits and the logic is not where you should be and, right now, I would fear that we should be more emotional, we should be connecting with people, it’s an opportunity to do so. So we also know that the more emotional content is, the more likely it is to drive a response, and never more so than on social – I mean just take our teeny-tiny yellow face little emoji which are our shortcuts to emotions – there’s a bit of research from that HubSpot shares which says – I’m just going to read this out – twenty-five point four percent of tweets with emojis get better engagement, 57 percent of Facebook posts get more likes, while 33 percent get shares and comments if they have emojis in them – you know, and that’s just really tiny simple thing. So, emotions are a good thing!

So how do we use them in social media marketing? Right, this is all about layering, okay there are two things that we need to be very aware of and balance those emotions -creating emotional content is definitely not just about having crying faces and laughing faces or distressed images, and in fact, it can be really off-centre with your audience – your audience’s needs and that of your brand personality – and it’s that kind of stuff that just jars with us. We want emotions that would trigger responses, so, what we’re looking at is, when we decide what emotions that will be part of our brand, will be to look at the emotions that represent the mood of our audiences, and those that we want to also trigger in our audiences.

There’s two different things there if you think about it. So, the mood of the audience is about understanding what’s going on today – we use tools like BrandWatch to listen and hear and monitor, and then the triggers are much more about what we want people to feel. So when measuring the mood of the nation – that’s about monitoring – one of the – there are a couple of big words of warning really, the first is that when monitoring conversations right now we’ve got very changeable mood in the country, we have news or broadcast going out government notices which are changing that mood very quickly, so you have to watch it constantly to see where people are, and the other word of warning is to be nuanced about how you pitch that mood if you are over-emotional in that situation, and we’ve all seen content that kind of is just too fake, it’s too much, and you do it without authenticity you’ll come across as crass, so acknowledge the situation and move on.

Supermarkets, particularly Tesco and Aldi are doing a fabulous job of this so understanding how to measure that mood. Triggers and feelings, as I said are the things that you want to, you want to evoke in your customer, you want them to feel an emotional need, not just reflect the mood, so there’s two things at play here.

Drivers are relatively obvious – you either want to evoke feelings of hope, desire, urgency, positivity and some more complex emotions that are also drivers for sales which will be fear, alarm, things like this can actually provoke people into purchase, but used judiciously, of course. Your audience is hungry for connectedness, and that’s what you’re trying to fulfil. Doing a little bit beyond those bland messages of “we’re in this together” (don’t want to hear that anymore)- empathy that exists in your communities, what you should be reflecting that same feeling that you have amongst your friends and family.

So how do you do it – So audience moods are skipping around like crazy, as I said so it cannot be business as usual, you really can’t, you need to monitor closely, dive into the conversations, I would really recommend that you get your senior leadership team to spend a day looking at how people talk about your category – doesn’t even have to be about your brand or an audience profile. If you want to be emotional, you kind of need to feel it “here” – build, for the triggers you need to build really detailed profiles, and I really don’t mean personas, I’m talking about understanding the psychographics. So, what are the attitudes of your audience segments, what are the values that matter to them, and how are they behaving of the consequence of that. And you really need to know this quite well so that you understand what it is that will drive a reaction, so drive either memorability, or liking, or clicking through, or buying.

When picking an approach, there is also one question you have to ask yourself, once you’ve decided that you’re going to go out with emotional content, there is one question that if you cannot ask with the affirmative, you have to stop, and start again and that is “can you legitimately own this emotional territory” – if you can’t legitimately own that territory, you shouldn’t be playing in that territory. And I do wish – there’s a number of brands out there that really need to ask themselves the question as to whether or not this is the right space for them to be emotional in that particular way. The other part, which is more social, but I do think it falls through other channels, which is that as a brand unique personality you know it’s really difficult to be emotional if you’re just kind of corporate “logo face”, so you need to have a really good think about it.

So we lots of people talk about purpose, and I get that that lots of people in the last few weeks been working on their brand purpose – great, fantastic, but that purpose now needs to translate into personality – are you humorous, are you funny, are you casual, are you authoritative, are you authentic  – what are you, who are you, who are you as a person, because then you can communicate emotion so much better. And if you look at the brands that are doing it well, they’re the brands that are actually communicating in that way – there’s a lovely bit of work from Ikea recently which shows that they just get the fact that there slightly sarcastic about themselves, it just works – so get a personality, and then there’s one big key question, which is, that right now people want entertainment and humour, and it isn’t until you’ve answered those questions above, you know, what’s the mood of the nation, what are the triggers, have I got the right to have this conversation, do I have a personality- if you haven’t got those you cannot enter into the humour conversation – but I’m just gonna read some stats because it’s really interesting, right now, research set in the UK 58 percent in France 68 percent and in Germany 51 percent of Germans consumers prefer ads that make them laugh right now. So, there is an opportunity to have humour but if you haven’t got the right to be there. You shouldn’t. The final part of your thinking about building in more emotions, and this again works b2b and consumer, is to think about how you will take people on an emotional journey, rather than throw all those emotions at them, you know you know, don’t flood people with things, and that means you need a really good narrative, you need a story to tell and you need to stretch that story out, that emotion out over a period of time and allow it to move in and out of those emotions. Don’t make them just singular dimensions. So understand the narrative and then afterwards, you can, then at that point that’s when you think about your creative, your visuals, your copy all of those things, but you have to go through that process when you want to really connect with your customer in an emotional fashion.

So this is how you build emotional intelligence – EQ – is like any muscle, you need to train and train and train, and work on it constantly if you want to bring it up to full power. Don’t fall into the trap of just “emotional manipulation” – that doesn’t work,  it rarely works and it can kind of degrade trust, and like any good workout you can’t fake it, you have – if you want to be buff, you’re gonna have to put the hours in. So, this is a really good process to go through but it’s also quite a joy of a process because you spend more time understanding your customers so much better. You might discover something new, something you hadn’t realised was a really big trigger, and it’s really nice to get to talk to the people who you sell to, effectively, in a more human way.

If you’re after more know-how to break the social boring, subscribe now and check out the show notes for links to our website and social profiles.

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