Developing Emotional Intelligence (EQ) To Be Twitter Smarter

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We know that IQ refers to our intelligence and how our mind performs and reacts to certain situations. It’s one of the most essential criteria for us to function as respected human beings in a civilized society. However, we often don’t give the same priority to emotions and our ability to put ourselves in another person’s shoes. So in this week’s chat, we invited social media strategist, Azad Yakatally to talk about emotional intelligence and how to use it in our everyday social interactions.

Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Azad Yakatally
Topic: Developing emotional intelligence (EQ) to be Twitter smarter
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: What is emotional intelligence or emotional quotient (EQ)?

We all naturally care about ourselves and our emotional well-being. Emotional intelligence, more commonly EQ, refers to how much we’re aware of other people’s emotional health as well. As Azad explained, EQ encompasses self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

As Janet mentioned, emotional intelligence is when you can control your emotions so that you don’t react instinctively and hurt someone. It’s when you learn to maintain composure and handle a situation rationally.

To put it more crudely, it’s about thinking before you tweet.

Q2: What does it mean for a brand to have a low/no emotional intelligence?

If you’ve been on Twitter in the last couple of weeks, you likely saw the tweet posted by the Raiders in reaction to the outcome of George Floyd’s murder trial. While there were a lot of supporting and opposing conversations around that tweet, it did stir up a lot of controversy that the Raiders could’ve done without.

When talking about the impact of having low EQ, our guest pointed out the Raiders tweet reminding us that regardless of your intentions, a badly-timed, poorly-constructed message can greatly impact your brand reputation. Even when you think you’re showing support for a cause, know that unless you handle the situation with a clear and emotionally stable mindset, you might trigger a chain of reactions you don’t want.

Social media is fraught with opportunities for misunderstanding. Tread sensibly.

A good way to think about EQ and its value is to consider it as an indication of your audience’s approval. As Laura pointed out, a low EQ means that you’re not resonating with your audience as much as you’d like to. It means that you don’t really know who they are and what they expect from you as a brand.

Q3: What does emotional intelligence have to do with social media content?

EQ is crucial for any form of content. For instance, if you’ve emailed your customers anytime during the last year, you would’ve acknowledged the impact of the pandemic on their business and life. You likely added a “take care” or “hope you’re safe” message that you wouldn’t have done if Covid weren’t a thing. All that’s an indication of your emotional intelligence. Social media isn’t any different—to succeed organically you need to share relevant content and engage with your audience in real-time.

If you’re not emotionally intelligent, you might make costly mistakes like making a joke about a crisis, reacting inappropriately to somber news, or trying to be funny only to hurt your audience.

Christine made a great point: communicating on social media can be challenging because it’s just so easy to lose context and misinterpret tone and intentions. If you end up upsetting someone, that can have a ripple effect and impact your brand’s reputation faster than you can repair it. That’s why it’s important to carefully review your social media copy, not only for its content but also for its tone.

Q4: How can brands identify topics and themes they should stay away from?

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If you, as a brand, feel inclined to address a topic, consider it as a normal consumer would—does your brand have any connection to the matter at hand? Does it make sense for you to have a strong opinion and conviction about this? If not, it’s best to stay back.

However, if you answer yes to that question, then consider if a social media post can effectively communicate your stance.

These are difficult questions. Especially when you come across an issue that you personally feel strongly about. But that’s where EQ comes in. Try to separate your emotional response from what’s best for your brand. In some cases, you might still be able to react using your personal handle, while not saying anything through your brand handle. It’s critical that you’re able to make this evaluation every time something triggering comes up. That’s high EQ.

Alyx also mentioned that if your brand is already making an effort to be transparent and inclusive in your online messaging and your offline business practices, then your audience will probably already know your stance on a matter, even if you don’t explicitly say so on social media. Make sure that your offline presence reflects your goals and values.

Q5: What are your top tips for improving emotional intelligence?

Be aware. Of your benefits, your situation, and your lifestyle. Regardless of how privileged you are in life, always remember that you’ll never completely know what the other person might be going through. Be considerate with your content—if you can avoid offending someone, why not do it?

A good way to improve your emotional intelligence is to always be learning. Challenge yourself—ask tough questions and try to understand others’ experiences. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and admit that you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s not a sign of weakness, but of strength.

Jim told us about the importance of getting out of your comfort zone. So many of us live in our own bubbles thinking that that’s exactly how the world is. But when you push yourself to get out there and explore, you’ll find a whole new world of experiences that’ll help tune your EQ.

Dana shared a great tip as well. Listen—to your audience but also to people outside of your audience. Expand your horizons by learning new things. Watch international movies or read authors from outside your favorite genre. These seemingly little things can help broaden your view of the world and the people in it.

Q6: How do you measure your emotional intelligence?

The best way to measure your EQ is to ask people who engage with your content. Azad gave us an example where if his tweet upsets someone, he’d talk to them and hear what caused them to react in a certain way to his content.

No one is perfect. Even unintentionally, we’ve all said, and sometimes still say, hurtful things on social media. Asking and listening from a perspective of wanting to learn is the best way to improve yourself.

On the flip side, as Masooma pointed out if you see people appreciating you for your content, your product, or just your customer service on social media, then it’s an indication that your EQ is increasing.

Q7: What are some ways brands can display high emotional intelligence when responding to crises?

The most important thing to know about crisis management is that you need to have an efficient team in place. This team should include a diverse group of people who can provide a range of different perspectives about an issue. This can help you create a well-rounded and considerate response.

That said, though, not every business will face a crisis that requires such a team. That’s more common and crucial for government, educational, and healthcare businesses where one small mistake can cause serious ramifications. This means most other businesses can take time to process the situation and find a measured response without making things worse.

And of course, if you schedule tweets in advance, please be mindful and turn them off in a crisis. Inappropriately-timed tweets do more harm than good.

Another crucial point, as Brian shared, is to avoid jargon. Most people, crisis or not, but especially in a crisis, use simple everyday language. And they want brands to respond to them in humane, everyday language. This is not a time to show people your command of corporate English.

Q8: Share some resources for marketers to learn about emotional intelligence and its impact on branding.

Our guest highly recommended the online course offered by Cornell University called Psychology of Leadership.

Kevin shared a video series on emotional functioning by one of his clients in the mental health field. The series walks through each of the ten core emotions. Have a look—you might learn something cool.

Our friend Taylor from GiveWP shared an article on how nonprofits can ask for donations while still being emotionally aware and considerate.

You can, of course, always look up guides and courses on emotional intelligence and observe your industry’s best to up your EQ game.

Well, folks, that’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading, and for more insights from our chat with Azad, have a look at this Twitter thread. Whether you’re a social media nerd or a curious lurker, we’d love to have you on our chat. Come join us on Thursdays at 1pm ET for #TwitterSmarter. See you then!


About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all the things—technical and marketing copy to fill the pocket; haiku and short stories to fill the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.

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