Facebook’s New Care Reaction Highlights Why Empathy Should Feature In Your Social Media Strategy

In April, Facebook unveiled its plans to roll out a new reaction for both Facebook and Facebook Messenger. The reaction, which appears when you press and hold the ‘Like’ button on a post, was created as a way for social media users to show extra support during the COVID-19 outbreak. It joins seven other reactions (Love, Haha, Wow, Sad & Angry)  all of which were rolled out in February 2016. A variation of the Care reaction can also be used on Facebook Messenger, where users can change the existing ‘Heart’ response to a purple one instead. 

While this new reaction is not a surprising addition to the roster (Facebook has been known to add temporary reactions, such as a ‘Thankful’ reaction for Mother’s Day), it does tell us quite a bit about how we use social media, and what we expect from it.  Not just now, in the current situation, but every single day. 

The ‘Care’ Reaction is, at its core, a demonstration of empathy. In a time where we are not able to hold one another or provide physical love and support, the new reaction gives users the opportunity to go one step further in responding to a loved one’s status update, or comment. The idea is that it communicates that little bit more than a normal ‘like’, or ‘love’ reaction. It is an emoji that says ‘I empathise with you and you are important.’ 

Social Media & Empathy 

Empathy is an important human reaction. It demonstrates our capacity to understand and share the feelings of others. It allows us to connect on a deeper level with those around us, particularly in times of crisis. 

But what does empathy look like on social media? For individual users, it is making use of features like the ‘Care’ reaction or checking in with those we follow and care about regularly. It is, at its core, genuine human interaction taking place in a virtual space. For brands, it is an understanding of how your audiences use social media and the kinds of things they want to see on their news feed.

Empathy, however, tends to be trickier for brands to execute, because finding a balance between brand tone, sensitivity and genuineness can be a difficult task. 

Which is why it is important to have a solid understanding within your social media strategy of how you will respond to crisis’, tragedies and times of struggle. In these situations, many people turn to social media for the latest news, or to check those they love are safe and well. A failure to respond to these kinds of events in a timely way could result in your brand looking tone-deaf and insensitive. 

Social media should be just that – social.  That is the reason why empathy should feature in your social media strategies, along with the flexibility to change things as and when it’s needed. 

How To Demonstrate Empathy As A Brand On Social Media

The COVID-19 crisis has seen businesses and brands ‘pivot’ in their responses. Sadly, in some cases, it means shutting up shop completely for the time being with a view to protecting the general public and staff. In others, it has resulted in a complete overhaul in operations to continue to meet the needs of customers during such an unprecedented time. 

In what has been and still is a rapidly evolving situation, social media has proven itself an invaluable tool for communicating these changes quickly. But it can also be a bit of a poison chalice as you try to navigate what you should say about what you are doing, and how you position your services in such unprecedented times. 

Finding A Balance

Our best advice? Read the room and stay up to date with the latest news. While your primary objective on social media may be to build brand awareness and promote your products or services, finding a balance is crucial. For example, it is essential for you to share information about your revised opening times or how you are maintaining social distancing in stores. Similarly, you may need to spread the word about a new service you are offering or signpost customers to your eCommerce store. These are important and feed your social media goals, however, finding the right tone and mix of empathetic posts among informative ones is the balance you’ll be aiming to strike. 

In some extreme cases, showing empathy may mean keeping quiet for a short time. While we would never suggest going completely ‘dark’ on social media when other news is breaking that demands public attention, taking a step back can be one of the wisest reactions for a brand. Saying nothing is infinitely better than coming across as disingenuous, looking as though you are trying to capitalise on the misery of others, or completely ignoring a situation and continuing with business as usual. Especially when emotions are running high.

Instead, as you look to respond, consider these questions:

  • What do our followers want to see from our brand right now?
  • How might this post sound reading it from their perspective? 

In some cases, it may be obvious where you can adjust your planned posts to hit the right tone. In others, it may take a bit of time to stop and consider what is appropriate, and how you can continue to promote your business in light of what has happened.

Your Strategy Matters 

A social media strategy is an invaluable tool for your business’s online presence. When you understand your overarching goals for social media and your brand tone, alongside how your audience is using social media, you’ll be able to comprehensively plan ahead and market your brand effectively. 

When it comes to demonstrating empathy, your social media strategy will give you the breathing space to stop and formulate a response. With a clear plan in place, it will be much quicker and easier for you to switch things up and move forwards with social media posts that are in line with your brand tone and sensitive to the needs and wants of your audience. It’s important to remember that while these kinds of responses may not feed your overall goals for social media, they will ensure you are connecting on a human level with your audience, which is ultimately what matters the most. 

At Netbiz Group, we love all things social media and we are committed to supporting our clients grow their following, promote their products and services and connect with their audiences in the right way. So, if you need any help or advice with your social media strategy or management, please contact us; our team would be happy to offer an ear and suggest ways in which we can help. 


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