4 Emotional Drivers for a Successful Content

Share the joy

The Internet is full of emotional baggage. Today, it seems everything is punctuated with an “emoticon” and how someone is “feeling.” The more “emo” you get the better.

People are naturally engaged when you tell them a story about a rude taxi driver, a new romantic connection, or some baby news. In the same way, you will probably share videos of a baby who can’t stop laughing, a bullied teen who made it to The Voice, odd news about a boy who had more than 200 teeth extracted, or the story of how another Indian girl was cruelly tortured and gang raped.

If you are a content marketer, you should think the same way and boost your emotional meter.


Photo courtesy of Ryan Berry via Flickr

With the exponential increase of content uploaded every minute, it is hard to get noticed, much more shared — the key is to evoke the right emotions. A 2011 study by the Journal of Marketing Research and the American Marketing Association demonstrated the link between emotions and “virality”, According to the study, a good content that stirs high arousal like awe or anger is more likely to go viral. The degree of social transmission also depends on how emotionally-charged content is. Furthermore, it concludes that people share emotional content to make sense of their experiences, reduce dissonance or conflict, and deepen social connections.

For content marketing strategies to be successful, they must be deeply personal. Arouse and understand your audience’s emotions and climb up the SEO ladder in no time. These four emotional drivers for effective brand management might help:

Rage and Anger

Studying the New York Times most-emailed list, Wharton School professors at the University of Pennsylvania, as cited in Buffer App blog, found that content that drives anger is the most shared. It revealed that 38% shared content that stirred anger as it fires up people. People share such content not only to express anger but also to instill a similar sense of outrage among friends.

Doing so does not mean connecting your brand to hostile messages but merely echoing the emotional response that your audience has on something that deserves strong opposition. Note that anger is directed to the topic, not the author or brand. Effective content production of anger-arousing content will project a brand that is firm on its principles and committed to its values. However, exercise tolerance and good judgment and be careful not to alienate your audience.

The upside with anger-inciting content is it easily grabs attention, and controversial blog posts also receive twice as many comments compared to regular ones.

Awe and Surprise

The second emotion that makes content viral is awe. According to the study, 34% are delighted with the feeling of wonder and excitement. Awe makes people’s hearts race and drives them to share. It is a safe and reliable online content path toward going viral. Awe is the reason why we can’t stop watching movies with big explosions and startling revelations; same goes for the World Wide Web and social media.

Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” was the most shared ad of 2013 according to Unruly Media. There were no fireworks in that ad but it made everyone feel good. It was simply awe-inspiring. Volvo’s “Epic Split” featuring Van Damme was not far behind. Now that was truly epic.

Awe-inspiring content is cool to share, exciting, and refreshing. This is one of the key emotional hits to shoot up brand management as it highlights a brand’s creativity and desire to be remarkable.

Anxiety and Fear

Another high-arousal emotion is anxiety. Content that incites anxiety and fear cause people to take action. They are great motivators. The survey showed that 24% of such content is shared mainly because people hate feeling anxious and they want to take action against it by spreading it.

Online content about a disease outbreak, security threats, money fraud and the like make people anxious. Effective content marketing should include relevant information about possible solutions to the problem. Show your audience that yours is a brand that cares.

Spread the Joy

If you make someone smile or laugh with your content, chances are they will share it. You can always count on positive and uplifting stories and videos to take you to the viral path. Good old humor never fails. A study with a very interesting title “From Subservient Chickens to Brawny Men” found that 60% of viral ads were generated by small companies, not by the Fortune 500. This is because small companies are willing to be more interesting and funny rather than safe and sterile.

These four emotions elicit high arousal. Content marketers are advised to limit content that inspires low-energy emotions such as sadness, grief, and depression.

Emotional engagement is an essential element of all successful content marketing campaigns. When people develop strong deep feelings such as joy, awe, anger, and anxiety, social sharing becomes impulsive. Maintaining strong emotional connection with your audience brings out the human side of business and marketing. It shows your consumers that you understand them.

Share the joy

Author: Kimberly Grimms

Kimberly is a futurist and a writer. She writes about business, marketing and technology. Circle her on Google+ and follow her @kimberlygrimms

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