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The Rising Value of Emotional Real Estate

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By Steffany Carey, Group Creative Director, Tribal New York

Due to the expanding social environment and the opportunity for all to participate in conversation, a lot is expected of brands these days. Not just in quality but in conversations and point of view on current events or even pop culture. In a world where participation happens with a few clicks of fingertips, it’s important for a brand to know that real time isn’t always the right time.

It’s human nature to be more vocal about the negative. You get a stale box of crackers or a mean flight attendant, and you’re all over social media, sharing your experience in full detail. It doesn’t matter if a store manager happened to leave those crackers on the shelf for 6 months longer than expiration, or the fact the flight attendant just found out his Mom has stage 5 cancer, bottom line is, you’re experience sucked, and the brand will take the social hit.

Remember when your Mom got pissed about something and said she was going to write a letter and complain? How many times did she actually write it? Having that lag time, allowed the emotion to diffuse. A lot of life can happen in between getting off the plane with the snippy flight attendant and heading home to find that you’re dog peed all over your dry cleaning. Now, our mobile first world allows us to log on mid-air and start ranting at our peak of pissed. We react first and think later. And it’s important for brands to do the opposite.

Brands already have their work cut out for them. Not just internally with legal parameters but in assessing level of appeasement it takes for an angry consumer to come around. Will a socially issued apology suffice? A free flight? Employee termination? A brand has to decide #1 Whether said issue should be addressed (if at all.) #2 How much is the relationship worth?

And it’s different for each brand.

Yes, brands need to be authentic. But they can be aspirational too. Authenticity can be, believing the best about yourself, and focusing on the positive. Inserting yourself into conversations that fit with who you are as a brand instead of what’s topical. That doesn’t mean being dishonest or inauthentic. There is a difference between avoidance and intentional non-participation.

Being on Snapchat just because ‘that’s where the kids are these days’ isn’t going to win you any consumer love. A brand has to ask themselves: Is it more effective to act authentically in the social channel? Or more effective to be honest about your brand? Maybe it’s most effective to know that one thing, means the other.

Even though social media is the first place people rant, people intrinsically want to feel good about what they consume. Consider the present state of the world, the shifting role of brands in people’s lives and the ability to answer the needs of a consumer whose priorities are shifting.

As humans, we are driven by emotion. It’s our greatest quality and our biggest downfall. And a brand with an authentic, positive voice can help build emotional real estate in us, as consumers. Getting there takes time, precision and patience, but the most valuable outcome is that someone can look past a moment of mad because of a deeper emotional investment.

About the Author

Steffany Carey is Group Creative Director for Tribal Worldwide, North America, where she will be responsible for leading the agency’s specified content network as well as its digital business.

Prior to rejoining Tribal New York, Carey served as Creative Director at Threshold Interactive in Los Angeles, CA, where she led the creative group on Nestlé brands in confection and bottled waters. During her time there, her leadership helped win AdAge’s Small Agency of the Year for West Region. In her first stint with the Tribal family, as an Associate Creative Director in New York she played an integral role in many pieces of business, such as J&J Beauty, NBC Universal, Diageo, Phillips, Unilever and Pfizer consumer.

Carey’s work has been recognized by nearly every industry awards show, including Cannes ACT Responsible, New York Festivals, One Show, WWD Beauty Biz, Webby, WebAward and others. She is also the best-selling author of the off-to-college book I’ll Miss You Too.

She lives in Westchester with her husband and two kids.