Anyone who tried to avoid hearing the Olympic results until the events aired hours later here in the United States knows how easily information flows across our social networks and into our consciousness. It didn’t matter if you preferred to wait to hear the results of the Men’s 400 meter relay. If it mattered to your social network, the results of the race were going to find a way to get to you.
The degree to which social media has become part of our every-day lives allow for greater opportunities for brands to understand and even empathize with consumers. Most brands have established listening posts, using either paid tools or at least a rudimentary Google alert-style monitoring program. These are designed to spot and quickly address detractors, and to uncover pockets of advocates and amplify those positive experiences.
But now, many brands are evolving those listening posts into new sources of empathy. New ways of understanding consumers and turning those insights into a competitive advantage. This effort requires the social data and conversation-mapping experience, as well as the active participation of the Planning department.
The New York Times recently covered the “social focus group” phenomena describing the ways many brands use social media for product development/testing. This is an especially important development for marketers, and actually brings us back to the time of Mad Men, when advertising agencies were so tied to product development that they had test kitchens in the office. All of this is designed to break down some of the bureaucratic fortresses built up over the last 25 years, and get brand managers in closer proximity to, you know, real people.
As brands and agencies work to close this empathy gap, we’ll begin to discover there are many roles social media can augment, or even lead, in traditional planning research. This is because great ideas are built on a cultural tension — some bigger issue that is, in some way, tangled up with the brand values*.
Social media, specifically real people engaging in continuous non-branded conversations, can help us chart this terrain. This is based on the simple premise that most people do not talk much about brands in their daily lives,about 10 brand references per day on average —almost all in passing.**
So, how do we move from elementary listening and responding to a more sophisticated source of insight for planning creative, effective programs? Here’s an imperfect list of sources of empathy, and how brands are using the insights to drive business results.
Five Sources of Empathy Seguir leyendo “Closing the Empathy Gap”