There’s one absolute in social communications. It is often overlooked in a rush to publish the sales message first. The absolute is that emotion works.
It can be good emotions, enthusiasm and humor. Or it can be challenging emotions, emotions that make us see red, that make us shout, or yell out a strong call to action for purpose and social good.
The second absolute in social communications is people.
People online aren’t all trolls, most “normal, sane” people online do enjoy offering help and advice. You just have to ask them.
This is very evident in the small business social networking space, where in many social groups, members jump in to support other small business owners. It is the strength of these emotional bonds that will bind you within social networks and your business environment.
Once a social connection is made, that is tied based on an “emotion”, (even if you haven’t met one another in real life) will lead to a stronger connection that is sustainable. Although weak ties can form in both communities and social networks, a strong tie is built up predominantly in communities only through an emotional connection.
Your most valued and strongest ties in many cases will have started from a weak tie, pulled together through a shared emotion. This is where the psychology of social networks gives the insight to the depth of what and why is really happening in social media.
These are some emotional arcs you can use simply to improve your engagement and build deeper social connections based on more substance.
A compelling reason to respond
“Can you help, I am having issues with a contract with a large organisation as a small business owner” – this will generate a lot of support on networks, such as LinkedIn.
“What do you think of this, I think it’s offensive” – always a good sort of post for Facebook or Twitter. A short-fire emotional trigger that gets you in the guts will generate a reaction.
As in real life, politics, sexuality and religion will engender a response and often lead to argument. But is it a useful connection or just an argument or even just abuse? To get the best from social media connections, you want to look at support or being supportive, not “let’s have a fight”. It looks bad for you and those engaging in that type of content.
“You can’t use social media effectively unless you know how to capture people’s emotions,” says Jennifer Aaker, the General Atlantic Professor of Stanford University Marketing at the Graduate School of Business. “People only advance the message about something they care about.”
Keep it simple
Don’t overcomplicate your message, request or social outreach. I observe on a LinkedIn group I am a member of that the questions people respond to most are those where there is an emotional clear ask, or a question. For example:
“To succeed in business you need to have fun, Agree?”
“A large client is trying to make me take 90 day terms and discount my fees. What shall I do?”
What your content says about you
Ed Cochrane, a PhD researcher (Emotional Intelligence) at The University of Edinburgh Business School, and Dr Martin Peddie of Emotional Sciences have been conducting collaborative research into the emotional content of social networking sites such as Twitter. For example, they studied what is on the celebrity mind?
Initial results showed that only six cognitive categories occur in 80% of the Tweets. That is to say, across all the tweets, there were a number of common things associated with the emotions. Cochrane and Peddie also looked at politicians’ content and user responses in terms of intention to vote. This may be a useful insight for our own Australian pollies!
Read the full report here.
Listening – really listening
Social media interactions and strong ties show the user has invested emotionally. This means as opposed to old style ways of researching and tapping into the consumer, for example, static data from surveys or focus groups, social media opens up a new and emotionally-charged research platform to make commercial decisions based on what people care about and what makes them tick.
In conclusion, social media is an emotionally charged platform of opinion and conversations, that can provide real insights into the emotional ties, connections and “what people really care about emotionally” to drive your business forward as a customer-centric business.
Last and main rule
Govern your emotions. Anonymous comments, or spurring for a fight just looks bad. So don’t post those anon or angry posts from others on your social platforms and don’t behave that way yourself. It really does look bad. Instead, seek to turn weak ties into strong connections through a commonality of emotion.
Fi Bendall is the managing director of digital and interactive consultancy company Bendalls Group. With over 20 years’ experience, Bendall has worked with global brands including BBC and Virgin, and is an expert in how businesses can approach strategy in the digital world. You can follow her on Twitter at @FiBendall, and can contact her through Bendalls Group.