In March 2015, Intouchers descended upon the SXSW Interactive Festival, an annual curation of cutting-edge technologies and digital creativity. Their mission? To absorb, interact, scrutinize, analyze, discuss and debate the most important takeaways from the event … and then share those back. They left SXSW inspired by actionable, practical ideas that would make a difference in how we do our work at Intouch every day. Below is an excerpt from their experience.
Humans Not Consumers

One of the most interesting themes that arose from SXSW 2015 was the idea that, amazing technology notwithstanding, our essential humanity is the thing we can’t discount or ignore.

Our essential humanity is the thing we can’t discount or ignore.

A variety of sessions spoke to this in one way or another, but one session addressed it directly: “Humans Not Consumers: Unconscious Emotion and Action,” which was presented by Douglas Van Praet, author of Unconscious Branding. He discussed the fact that we make many, even most, of our decisions unconsciously. Far more often, in fact, than we think we do or want to admit. One quote of his that I jotted down was, “We are feeling creatures that think, not vice versa.”

You can look at this as a challenge — to make our brand messaging work, we must circumvent our fallible, emotional humanity. Our subconscious is outdated and needs to be overruled.

A lot of us fall into this trap when we try to organize our lives, manage our work, even parent our kids. We assume that the rules we set should be enough to eliminate distraction and procrastination and make life run like clockwork.

Van Praet argued that that approach can’t succeed, and I agree. He explained how important it is to start with emotion and support that emotion with facts — not the other way around.

For instance, if your kids aren’t getting to school on time, which approach works better: continuing to watch the clock and doling out punishment or redirecting effort to figure out what emotion is behind that behavior?

Similarly, if we start with the emotional state of our patients and physicians, acknowledging that they’re not robots that only need information inputs, we can do far better understanding compliance, adherence and prescribing habits.

We can’t get so lost in the promise of amazing new technology that we forget emotion. Luckily, though, a lot of tech can actually help us with this. We can gather far more data points about changing emotional states. We can analyze online and offline activity and use algorithms to help us infer and predict emotions. We can test and compare to see which messaging resonates best with people in which moods.

We can’t allow tech to make us forget about emotion, but if we do it right, we can actually use tech to help us understand the unconscious better than ever.