Complete this thought:
Corporate communicators seeking to use social media to connect with customers and other constituents should concentrate on ...
If you ask Peter Hirshberg, CEO of The Re:imagine Group, he'd say "empathy."
Brands are shaped by conversations "out there" and the brand messages a company puts out must be in sync with those conversations or they will have no traction in the market. You probably know that already.
But there's something even more basic to success in social media engagement, Hirshberg says. Our ability to shape conversations depends on our ability to truly empathize with the people inside those conversations.
Hirshberg provided the keynote address last night at the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations' second annual Celebration of Leaders in Chicago. Hirshberg's credentials are most impressive: a nine-year run at Apple, followed by Chairman/CEO roles at Elemental Software, Interpacket Networks, Gloss.com and Technorati (the world's leading aggregator of user-generated content).
Social media provides the on-going narrative to learning empathy, he says. That means more than just listening and responding to what we might see as factual errors. It means putting ourselves in our customers' -- or our critics -- shoes and seeing the world from their point of view before responding.
A not surprising viewpoint if you consider another aspect of Hirshberg's impressive resume. He is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute -- the Henry Crown Fellowship seeks "to develop the next generation of community-spririted leaders by honing their skills in value-centered leadership."