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Updated: January 9, 2023 advice

Use empathy when managing social media

Having a career in social media is truly unique. On any given day, you are stepping into the role of copywriter, editor, graphic designer, photographer, videographer, data analyst, and any other role helping to create the most engaging content. But one aspect of the job will never change and arguably is the most important: community management. 

Danny Quin is the digital and social media manager at UMass Memorial Health in Worcester. Reach him at

Like it or not, your organization’s social media accounts have become the digital front door to your company. Let’s be honest, that probably won’t change as long as our phones, armed to the teeth with social media apps, are at everyone’s fingertips every second of the day. Does a customer have a question, comment, or complaint? Forget finding the “Contact Us” page on your website. Chances are, they have probably already posted in the comment section or sent a direct message.

Why? Because when a social media professional is actively engaging their social media community, a user knows their comment will be acknowledged in a timely fashion. Not to mention, there is a sense of power behind making a complaint about a company or service with tens of thousands of onlookers. This is where a social media manager’s most important tool comes into play: empathy.

Though we are looking at the comment through the lens of an employee, we have to take a second to heed the advice of the literary hero, Atticus Finch. “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Yes, a social media comment or complaint can easily be ignored or discarded. Yes, we are responsible for protecting our brand. It’s easy to forget there is a legitimate reason why the customer felt they needed to reach out to our page rather than utilizing a different channel.

The auto-reply function is convenient and helpful, but the last thing an angry consumer wants to see in a heated moment is a generic, hollow, canned response from a robot.

You’re human; make sure to provide comfort in their moment of need. Engage with your heart and make sure they know you’re going to do anything within your power to help in their personalized situation.

All they want in that moment is to feel like they are being heard. Be ready to open that door, and embrace them with understanding and empathy.

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