We’ve all heard that talking with other people (and not just talking to them) on social channels is the way to build meaningful engagement. As brands and individuals we want to build an emotional connection with our audience, so what’s the best path for success?

I read an article in Entrepreneur by Aaron Keller, founder of the Minneapolis brand design agency Capsule that sparked some ideas in that direction. In it, he describes the three keys that are essential for all design: form, function and intention, and how they apply to conversation.

He says that in order to rise above the noise on social channels, we need to plan our conversations so that they arrive at the right time and make the emotional connection we desire with recipients. He’s absolutely right. And in order to achieve that kind of connection, we need to be “in tune” with our audience.

I’m always talking about developing a listening strategy before you develop any content, but who are we listening to? Keller states that instead of focusing on a particular demographic or psychographic profile, perhaps we need to look at it from an emotional standpoint. What audiences are most passionate about a particular topic, and what is their emotional state? Are they happy and excited or frustrated and angry? How are they expressing that emotion in their social conversations?

Listening helps you define the best audience pools for your business—people that are socially active and emotionally engaged in topics you care about. And this can help you plan empathetic conversations designed specifically for each audience.

Ask questions, dig a little and find out the reason they feel this way. Let them know that you understand them. Developing an emotional connection starts there, with just being nice (#JustBeNice, a hashtag evangelized by me and used by many)—being a listening ear and letting them know that they’re being heard.

Once you have a thorough understanding of the feelings that each audience segment has around a topic, you’ll have a better idea of how to design messages that will trigger the emotional response you want them to have toward you. How do you want them to feel about you? What action(s) do you want them to take?

Developing emotional connection with intentional conversations is the best way to establish rapport. Without it, you’re just throwing content out there and hoping something sticks—not the best way to establish Return on Relationship.

So stop throwing spaghetti on the wall! Use the social tools you have at your disposal to emotionally engage with your audiences. You’ll create Trust, Loyalty and Advocacy, which will result in more business… plain and simple.


Originally posted at Inside CXM, November 18th, 2014

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