Facebook Inc (FB) ‘Empathy’ – Do Advertisers Need It?


Facebook has formed a dedicated “empathy team,” which is entrusted with the responsibility of listening to the problems and good moments of others and translating the experiences for engineers. Apart from handling users and engineers, the team is also supposed to calm advertisers, which Lucy Kellaway of the Irish Times says in a report that she feels is “very thoughtful, although it misses the spot by a mile.”

Facebook Inc (FB) 'Empathy' - Do Advertisers Need It?

Advertisers need returns

Facebook users are not be called “users” anymore, but rather, they are addressed as “people.” Last month, Margaret Gould Stewart, director of product design, said those who were called users in the past, have lives and likes other than their experiences of using Facebook. She said, the “first step of designing in a human-centered way is to recognize that they’re humans.” She also said the company’s internal dashboard previously used for tracking “daily average users” now tracks “daily average people.”

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The empathy team is tasked with empathizing with advertisers, which is very thoughtful but distantly relevant. An advertiser who has spent thousands to place ads on Facebook and is not getting any return will draw hardly any comfort from a chat with a Facebook employee who claims to feel his pain, says the report.

Rather, advertisers will be interested in finding where their strategy went wrong and probable measures to fix it. As far as commercial transactions are considered, there is little place for empathy because the irrelevant display of emotions is nothing more than sheer un-professionalism, says the report. In the corporate world, the only place for empathy is during any personal loss, such as suffering from some serious illness, bereavement, divorce or any other grave situation.

Facebook tries to give a more personal touch

Facebook seems to have missed this time on the strategy front by creating an empathy team because empathy is real when it is spontaneous and natural rather than being tailor-made. If empathy is the part of the employees’ job description rather than coming from the heart, then it could miss the very objective.

For some users, this action from Facebook may be silly, as they are not at all offended by being called users. To others, the scrapping of the term “users” and replacing it with “people” may feel like Facebook wants to interfere more with their private lives, which cannot be denied with the social networking site already entering almost every space of personal lives.

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