Empathy – the ability to see the world through the perspective of an “other” – is one of the greatest distinguishing characteristics of human beings.

It allows us to communicate effectively and to share our experiences. It also, however, contradicts another intrinsic characteristic within us: self-interest. So often the personal lens with which each of us views the world can shift more to the “self,” as opposed to others. There’s nothing wrong with acting upon self-interest, as it drives action. But it’s important for marketers to not let their brand’s “self” be too imposed on the “other”- aka, their customers.

It’s especially essential for Marketers when it comes to social marketing, as social media is inherently a bottom-up structure, where the consumer has a major influence on the market. Thus, it’s in the best interest of merchants and marketers to practice empathy, and view their brand through the perspective of the consumer before developing a social marketing strategy.

The behaviour of marketers, however, is different than the behaviour of consumers, which can distort the marketer’s perspective. According to ExactTarget, “90 percent of marketers own a smartphone, vs. 51 percent of online consumers as a whole,” and “93 percent of marketers have made a purchase as a direct result of an e-mail marketing message, while only 49 percent of online consumers have done so.” This has led marketers to make assumptions about their customers. As discussed in an article in Entrepreneur “[A Marketer’s] perspective may be skewed if you make assumptions about customers based on your own behaviour, rather than that of the people you want to reach.” In other words, letting the “self” (brand) be imposed on the “other” (consumer), as it can be detrimental to a social marketing strategy.

Generally, consumers are looking for three things from brands: to be entertained, engaged and informed. To learn more on how to be an effective social brand, take a look at one of our recent blogs here