In a world that's more digitally connected than ever, paradoxically, loneliness is at epidemic levels. The United States, like many other nations, is grappling with a loneliness epidemic that has profound implications for individuals and society as a whole.
“Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation” by the US Surgeon General reports that there is increasing evidence emphasizing the impact of our environments, including digital spaces, on our overall health. The report states that “...social isolation and loneliness also predict increased risk for developing depression and anxiety and can worsen these conditions over time.” The report also highlights that “...poor or insufficient social connection is associated with increased risk of disease, including a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.” More evidence that healthy social connections are pivotal for both mental and physical well-being. As marketers, we have a unique opportunity to contribute to a solution by fostering connective experiences.
Here are our top four tips to create a more connective environment and help combat the loneliness epidemic.
Address ‘Loneliness’ Head On No Matter What Your Business:
Now that we know loneliness is impacting Americans nationwide, acknowledge and lean into the true experiences that your customers are having. You now have full permission to use your brand for connection and to encourage a sense of belonging. CPG brands do this well, for example, by elevating laundry to a connected experience. What if you are a B2B brand? Find the connection beyond the products or services that you sell. Business has a huge opportunity to bring people together by highlighting the experience of doing business with your company and creating a connective feeling with your sales team that isn’t just transactional.
Show Don’t Tell With Strategic Partnerships:
Show your support for the community by building up within communities that already exist and spend your marketing dollars on memorable experiences. If you are a brand who wants to reach a particular community, do something special for them that is unexpected. Rally a community around your brand’s ethos rather than separating your customers from communities they trust. For example, if you are trying to reach men who are more likely to be dealing with loneliness, partner with a men’s organization to bring them together at scale with education and positive interactions that can spread. At SweetScience, we developed a partnership with Men’s Health Network to create “Project Strong Minds” as a platform for brands to support the mental health and wellness of men.
Facilitating Connections Among Customers:
Marketers can go beyond traditional advertising by actively facilitating connections between their clients. Consider partnerships or collaborations that bring together like-minded individuals who are part of your constellation. This could involve forums where you are intentionally connecting your clients to interact with each other. By creating spaces for your clients to connect, you're not only expanding your reach but also contributing to a network that helps to validate their need for connection.
Foster Connection Through Vulnerable Storytelling:
In a world turning to social media over in-person connections, people increasingly crave the genuine interactions now lacking. As marketers, we must fill that gap with campaigns embracing authentic storytelling versus polished promotions. Share real stories from all facets of your company and customer ecosystem. Let people in through thoughtful narratives - not just celebrating successes but revealing mistakes made along the way too. Brands bold enough to exhibit some vulnerability and humanity build bonds and likability over façades of perfection.
As marketers, we have the power to influence societal trends and address critical issues like the loneliness epidemic we are currently facing in our country. By addressing loneliness head on, showing support through strategic partnerships, facilitating connections among customers, embracing authentic storytelling, and adding a human touch to our messaging we are not merely responding to the loneliness epidemic, but actively leaning into it to foster change. Implementing these strategies can contribute to a collective shift in the way we approach advertising, influencing a culture of connection. In doing so, we not only enhance our brand but also play a part in creating a more connected and less lonely world.