With Facebook’s recent unveiling of ‘Reactions’ emoji buttons, marketers may gain a new way to gauge consumer sentiment. Mark Zuckerberg shares that Reactions are Facebook’s answer to the ongoing call for a “dislike” button. “Not every moment is a good moment,” Zuckerberg said, “and sometimes you just want a way to express empathy.”
The idea that one can express empathy with the click of a button seems a tad unauthentic to me. To McKinney chief strategy officer, Walt Barron’s point, empathy isn’t just caring about what another person is feeling; it is understanding and feeling what they are feeling – “hurting like they hurt.”
In today’s hyper-connected, technology-driven world, we still hunger for powerful human connections, even in the compressed culture of online communication. Empathy holds that power. It pierces through the noise because it captivates and motivates us – it spreads because we want to share it with others.
Virtual reality has the ability to reshape the future of entertainment, journalism and advertising. Facebook recently introduced 360-degree videos to its newsfeed platform, allowing users to experience video with the ability to look around in every direction, increasing user interaction. At Mashable’s Social Good Summit, TDO Productions Founder Gentry Lane describes VR as an empathy machine – and it is.
VR allows us to walk in another person’s shoes. We’re able to virtually take in the world from their perspective, seeing what they see. What better way to gain a deeper understanding of another’s experience than to, in a sense, experience it for yourself?
Through VR, companies will be able to invite consumers to step into an experience and showcase their product or service in an entirely new way. Through 360-degree video, companies will still have the ability to control the story, but can offer consumers the opportunity to poke around, interact with and become a part of the story.
With the ability to invite consumers to immerse themselves in your company’s story or experiences, it becomes even more important to understand your consumers’ backgrounds and interests so that you can create an experience that will resonate with them. With these new storytelling capabilities, empathy must also come 360 degrees. Do you know your consumers well enough as individuals to understand their day-to-day? Their highs and lows? Their challenges and successes? We need to be able to relate with them in order to connect with them. So, when exploring what story or experience it is that you want to share with your consumers, first empathize with them. Understand their lives. Then, share a story or experience from a perspective that they, in turn, can empathize with.