Why Humanity is Key in Connecting With Audiences in Social Media



“There are cultural and dynamic shifts going on and it’s harder than ever to be a brand on social media.” Will Hodge, Executive Strategy Director, Karmarama


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In the modern digital landscape, we face the risk of becoming more disconnected than ever. The more technologically connected we become, the less connected we can feel. It’s time to really question what we mean by the phrase ‘connection.’

In this article we recap a session hosted by Karmarama during #SMWLDN that unpacked this idea.

Here are the primary insights and takeaways:

  • Empathy is Everything
  • Revamps Start with Discovery
  • The Three Stages of Audience Engagement: Get Acquainted, Observe, and Collaborate
  • Be Kind, Start Small, and Have Fun
  • Put Users at the Heart of Your Rebrand

Empathy is everything

“We really believe in empathy,” announces Will Hodge, the company’s Executive Strategy Director. “There are cultural and dynamic shifts going on and it’s harder than ever to be a brand on social media. We like to think about loops and like to put empathy and people at the heart of what we do, with sharp ideas that spur cultural resonance.”

It’s easy to fall into the trap of viewing social media as the starting point for a campaign and not part of an entire ecosystem. There are vast amounts of tools readily available to create invigorating content, yet the key to a successful one will ultimately circle round whether the brand or creative agency have taken the time and effort to understand what it’s like to walk in the shoes of its desired audience.

Revamps Start with Discovery

Hodges uses Karmarama’s work with NCS (The National Citizen Service) as an example of an entire brand revamp and campaign with empathy at the heart of it. As NCS is a voluntary personal and social development program aimed at 15 to 17-year-olds, Karmarama spoke to and spent time with that demographic in order to understand what they wanted.

They needed to develop a clear brand platform and proposition that was flexible enough to work with any touchpoint imaginable and bring the brand world to life. They needed to know what young adults were watching, doing, thinking, saying and what they cared about, in order to discover why they would and should care about NCS.

The three stages of audience engagement: Get Acquainted, Observe, and Collaborate

Hodges talks about the three stages of audience engagement they applied. First, they got to know them through work-shops and in-depth interviews. Then they saw what they were into via Whatsapp chats and dinners to the likes of Nandos (in other words, cultural immersion). Finally, they created work together in the form of mobile concept development and in-home and real-life executional tweaks.

Be Kind, Start Small, and Have Fun

Katie Hunter, Social and Influencer Lead at Karmarama concludes they found ten insights and whittled it down to three essential ones: They felt they were in a type of independence purgatory and battle, they wanted to be kinder (activists) starting with the small stuff and that they liked fun, but loved funny. “We saw this as an opportunity to shout about the independence NCS offers, how to make the small changes that they want to see and we decided to not be dead serious with our tone of voice.”

Put Users at the Heart of Your Rebrand

The new logo reflected the new maturity of the brand, too. Hunter concludes, “we told a story and we needed to do a campaign with longevity. There had to be no linear campaign structure, so NCS wouldn’t have to keep starting over again to drive sign-ups. We tapped into influencer marketing and we tapped into news and cultural moments.” Karmarama focussed on peer advocacy and, whilst they spoke to teachers, put students at the heart of the rebrand and it paid off.

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