“Food is not the only thing in life that we ingest,” Wade explains, “If you find that your media diet does not feel life affirming, it may be time to switch it up.” That’s instructive wisdom for both sides of the media exchange, and that “switch” has made outlets that primarily cater to a younger demographic much more successful in engaging them.
The key to doing so is with empathy. Successful outreach and engagement isn’t simply about identifying your audience, but identifying with them. Social media—particularly Instagram—has allowed Wade a platform to spread messages of self-love and acceptance, while speaking about issues concerning gender, race and the LGBTQ community.
“I just want people to know that they are not alone,” says Wade. “They are not alone in their feelings about life. They are not alone in their feelings about the world.” Wade knows how to engage with her followers because, she says, “I am them.”
“What resonates the most” with Wade and her audience, she says, is “our relationship with fear.” As such, she leans into personal insecurities and broad social concerns, which are often inextricably linked. The solution for others looking to capture and—more importantly—engage with readers and consumers in a meaningful way is through empathizing with them. It’s through seeing your target audience not as “other,” but as yourself.
The most important question, then, is this: What do you care about?
Cleo Wade will be a featured speaker at SXSW 2018. Browse all Social Impact track sessions.