Real or Fake: Social Media Empathy
By Jen Cohen Crompton
But in reality, are these empathetic interactions authentic? And, does authenticity matter?
For the average consumer engaging with a brand via social media, their motivation to engage comes from emotions of excitement, frustration, concern, support, or just simply wanting their “voice” to be “heard.” When a company is listening and responds to a user, it is generally in one of three ways—with a solution, with more information, or with positive reinforcement/acknowledgement. For a company, it is their social media communications team’s goal to determine the appropriate response based on the motivations behind the actual tweet, comment, and/or interaction.
So, from the flip side—how much effort did it take the company to “like” the comment or post a quick response (possibly canned) and did the response team really feel anything? Does the company really care what the user shared, or did they just do what they were supposed to do through a click or a couple keystrokes?
This sense of “false” or potentially inauthentic interactions can actually result in the reverse effect for companies and lead to users becoming skeptical of the actual feelings of a company. Think about the good old Discover card commercials where they show “Debbie” the mid 40-year-old woman answering the phone from a dirty office, and compare them to their new commercials featuring the slogan, “We treat you like you’d treat you” (this is my favorite). Basically, they are stating that they care about you as much as you care about yourself.
So does social media foster the growth of showcasing authentic empathy from companies, or does it fuel an environment of false empathy that will soon backfire if users discover that companies really aren’t listening, but merely responding as they should?
I think only time will tell…
Jen Cohen Crompton is the President of Something Creative LLC, a marketing company serving local, national and international B2B and B2C companies, focused on integrated marketing strategies and using social media and analytics to drive results. Follow her on Twitter at @jenz036 or find her on LinkedIn.