How Emotional Social Media Content Can Drive Viral Growth

Most social media content is bland and doesn't touch on any significant human emotions. You should think differently than the rest of people.

Emotions are extremely important to the lives of many animals. Fear, for instance, enables creatures to flee or defend themselves in dangerous situations. Joy allows animals to seek out situations that provide a beneficial stimulus to them. A common trope in science fiction is the robot (or android) who would like to become more human and experience the same excitement, pain, sadness, and laughter that humans live for. Luckily, humans are able to experience these and many other complex emotions that guide them in their daily lives and act on them in a far more rational way than any animal. However, most people are not Spock and the importance of these emotions in our lives can be overwhelming, and should be considered for your own social media presence and business marketing. How can you use certain types of content to create an emotional impact and create more viral content?

Emotions can drive attention and sales

To be clear, when emotional content is being talked about, clickbait is not being referred to. Clickbait is a negative and Facebook is going out of its way to diminish the popularity of so-called clickbait in peoples' Newsfeeds. These are posts by organizations such as Buzzfeed and Upworthy that prey on peoples' emotions and sometimes write arguably misleading headlines in order to attract likes and shares and clicks. Emotions are vital for getting the word out about your page in a viral way, but clickbait is a negative on social media and earns you a negative reputation. Instead, you should consider the emotional impact that your contact has and use that to write interesting new quality content. The full range of emotions can be used to engage people on social media and attract their interest, but studies have sometimes shown that disgust, surprise, anger, and anticipation can sometimes be most effective for driving viral behavior.

What emotions can be effective?

Though there are many different theories of what the basic emotions are and they can best be categorized, but Plutchik’s Wheel Of Emotions seems to be one of the more popular, the most visually interesting, and best thought through theories of emotional categorization that exists. There are many ways to create social media content that leverages the 8 basic emotions that exist through this theory. Here are some basic examples. Hopefully you're clever enough to leverage these into creating even better content.

  • Joy - Create a high quality song or video that delights the hell out of people. Think about a YouTube video or Reddit post that made you smile or even literally laugh out loud. This might take some effort, but can you create something like that?
  • Trust - Go out of your way to be open and honest about some of your own personal failings. Far from being a negative, being courageous enough to reflect accurately on your own character is a mark of trustworthiness and is something that even detractors can respect if done in a genuine way.
  • Fear - While telling people on Facebook that you'll murder their entire family unless they click on the share button is a bad idea, talking about fears that people have and ways to deal with them can be very viral.
  • Surprise - Videos and movies that end with a surprise twist or stories that appear to be about something that they're really not often drive intense word of mouth. Can you surprise your customers in some way?
  • Sadness - If you have ever seen those commercials on TV with the animal shelters putting cute puppies on display while begging for money while sad music plays in the background, then you know then how effective sadness can be at driving attention to an issue.
  • Disgust - Disgust at something can be extremely powerful and can lead to advocacy for a cause. People might go out of their way to share your post that's about a specific issue that inspires disgust in people.
  • Anger - Pointing out an injustice from somebody with power to somebody without it can also drive intense emotions, do a good deed, and drive interaction to your page. If you have passion about something, let it flow.
  • Anticipation - Anything people are looking forward to greatly can drive a lot of attention and interest. Posting about the upcoming iPhone 6, speculating about the future iOS 8 (or even 9), or making a post about Half Life 3 (not confirmed :( yet) can drive some attention as well.

Other, more complex emotions such as love, greed, jealousy, pride, shame, and altruism are considered to be a mixture of the previous 8 basic emotions and can also drive considerable interest and attention from people. Despite some of these emotions having a connotation of negative, they are still part of the human experience and their presence is always around us. When creating posts and thinking up ideas for new social media content, don't shy away from exploring the emotional impact that you can create. To reiterate, this isn't about creating clickbait or anything unseemly or predatory, but about recognizing the importance that emotions have in peoples lives and crafting a social media strategy that actually interests and impacts people.

24 Awesome Social Media Articles Buy Facebook Likes Comparison Guide