In order to connect with your audience, you must express empathy and understanding. If you simply offer solutions without connection, your audience will be left feeling judged.
Recently I was working with a client who is a very experienced, high-performance expert for leaders. He is an incredible thinker with a lot of value to offer his own clients, yet he was struggling to get engagement on his social media platforms. His content wasn’t getting likes, comments or shares, and so his ability to influence and connect with his clients was suffering.
He reached out to me. I agreed it was strange – with his level of experience, he should be getting a lot more engagement. So, I did a random audit of his platforms and I immediately saw the problem… every single post offered a solution but there was no deep articulation of the problems that they solved. There was no connection.
Connection Content versus Solution Content
Offering solutions is important, but it’s essential that your content connects with your audience first. My client’s posts were missing that essential ingredient of empathy so instead of feeling understood, his audience was left feeling judged, wrong and not good enough.
Solution content is pushy.
Giving a solution without first making a connection is like trying to give someone medicine when they don’t even think they’re sick. You might think they’re sick, but until they do, they will just feel like you are being pushy.
Solution content is confusing.
Without some articulation around empathy and the challenges that your audience might be facing, your content can come across as confusing. Your audience reads it but they don’t understand what the problem is and struggle to connect with you. And when your content is pushy and confusing, engagement will drop off significantly. When you’re in the thick of your niche it’s easy to forget that other people need it articulated for them to get it.
Connection content taps into empathy.
As Barack Obama said, “Learning to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that’s how peace begins. And it’s up to you to make that happen. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world.”
When you are able to articulate your empathy for your audience, they believe that you understand them, that you relate to their problems. They can then trust that you aren’t judging them or saying that they are somehow wrong, but that you are offering solutions based on your ability to relate to their problems.
Connection content leads to clarity.
When you create connection content you’re tapping into your audience’s problems and into empathy. You’re stepping into their shoes and it’s your connection that provides the context to your content. When your audience relates to the problem that you’re articulating, they can immediately understand how the solution that you’re presenting can help them. There’s no confusion or misunderstanding, but deep clarity.
How to Connect With Your Audience
Empathy mapping was originally created by Dave Gray, and is a tool to gain a deeper insight into customers and clients. It’s also an excellent way to connect with your audience. When you sit down for an empathy mapping session you’ll want to ask yourself some questions about your customers. You might ask yourself:
- What is my client thinking and feeling?
- My clients have worries and fears – what are they? And what are their pain points?
- What are some of their aspirations?
- When clients use my services, what are they thinking?
- What might they be saying to their friends or colleagues about my services?
Empathy maps help you dive into your client’s mindset and understand the challenges they might be facing.
Once you understand your clients’ challenges and problems, it’s easy to tap into storytelling as part of your solution. Storytelling helps cement that connection by providing the context to your solution. It lets your audience know that you really get them, because you’ve been there, you’ve walked in their shoes, so to speak.
You’ll see that I use storytelling a lot in my communications with my audience – both my own stories and stories that I know will resonate. It’s a powerful way to engage with anyone and stories are 22 times more memorable that straight facts.
Leaders who are very solutions oriented often worry about being vulnerable and opening up about their own stories for fear they will come across as incompetent. But recognising your own failures and missteps doesn’t make you appear incompetent when they are the same or similar problems that you clients are experiencing. Instead, it just opens up the opportunity for connection.
- Are your posts focused on solutions rather than connection?
- Can you create connection through empathy mapping and storytelling?
- Does your connection bring clarity and engagement?
I’d love to hear your thoughts…
Jane Anderson is a strategic communications expert, speaker and the author of seven books including the upcoming Catalyst Content. She has over 20 years of experience helping people to communicate confidently. Jane helps leaders generate authentic influence and human connection to drive business growth in a world of disruption and automation. Jane delivers Content Creation Bootcamps (Virtual and Face to Face), coaching and keynotes. To inquire about working with Jane please contact us here.