Emotions are key but it’s not what you think.
Who hasn’t been annoyed by an online ad and then proceeded to rant at the screen until the damn thing vanished… and suddenly you become yourself again like nothing ever happened?
I’m certainly guilty on that end.
If there’s a dislike button I would be using it all the time.
Wait, actually there is one on Youtube, and I don’t ever recall liking one of those ads.
I know, neither do you.
Like many of you, I’m not just being indifferent towards a brand with annoying ads but also I’m negatively engaged with it. I hate it!
Oscar Wilde would say that it’s better to be talked about than not being talked about at all, but I’d say that it’s all about HOW people talk about your brand.
Well, at least when it comes to improving the odds of your content being shared online by others.
But what kind of content is that?
Emotional Content — but Not Any Kind of Emotion
Emotions are an essential part of our being.
Without them, life would be dull. An endless stream of events without any of those sticking onto us.
Emotional peaks help us separate meaningful events from the monotonous ones.
And that also applies to ads.
According to Harvard Business Review, ads that can create a strong emotional connection with their audience are more likely to go viral.
Those reactions may come in many different forms.
They can be expressed as feelings of national pride, like in Hyundai’s ad “A Better Super Bowl”, cuteness overload, like in Erste’s Christmas ad “What would Christmas be without love?”, or any other strong emotional response.
But what’s the emotion that will most likely be shared by others?
Did you think negative emotions were more viral?
I thought that too.
However, studies show that ads that elicit positive emotions are more likely to be shared in social media. Here are some of these if you want to check them out: Berger & Milkman, 2012; Eckler & Bolls, 2011; Nelson-Field et al., 2013.
You learn something every day, right?
Now, in second place we have any high arousal emotion. That means both positive and negative emotions alike, but they have to wake you up, like a strong morning coffee.
If an ad video can evoke a strong negative emotion such as fear, anger, or disgust, the chances of sharing it are high as well.
Well, not as high as with positive emotions, but still pretty significant.
Inside Positive Emotions
Okay, now we know that positive emotions are much better for virality than negative emotions but that’s still too broad.
So which positive emotions are we talking about?
These four emotions have been more widely tested and are related to an increase in shareability:
- Awe: a feeling of wonder associated with experiences that transcend the individual self.
- Affection: a feeling of fondness, warmth, and love that activates empathy.
- Joy: a strong feeling of pleasure and happiness.
- Surprise: a startle response experienced by an unexpected or astonishing event.
It seems that these emotions can drive us to behave unselfishly and seek to connect with others. In fact, the most shared Super Bowl ad video of all time is a Volkswagen Commercial, The Force, with more than 5 million times since its launch. And this advert focuses on the feelings of affection and joy.
These emotions help us leave our inner shell and actively look and connect with others. We are willing to show more sympathy and try to be close to other people even if it’s just doing it virtually.
And guess what? This prosocial behavior would also manifest in our social media interactions.
The Power of Others Being Advocates for Your Brand
According to TechCrunch, consumers are spending half of their online time on social networks. That’s where brands will most probably find their audience and try to engage them with their content.
One way to know if consumers are being hooked with your content is to look at the number of ad video shares on social media. It’s telling you that the sharer is so engaged that he/she wants others to experience what they felt when looking at it for the first time.
And there’s also another way to look at it.
Sharing is a form of recommendation.
People that share content are in a way telling others that the content is suitable for a certain purpose. They put forward content that they approve and suggest seeing it.
When people react favorably, they also pay more attention and are more willing to accept the ad’s content.
In other words, they are more prone to being persuaded by it.
Tips to Make Your Content More Shareable
We’ve seen that content that elicits positive emotions tends to spread more through social media than content causing negative emotions.
Now let’s see ways to increase your content’s impact:
- If your article contains more positive than negative words, your content is more likely to become viral. A study showed that among 7,000 articles from the New York Times, the ones more likely to be shared had a higher percentage of positive words that elicited awe, surprise, or joy. Also, people want content that has a practical value.
- If you want to be viral, avoid using stories that evoke sadness. Content that induces an emotion with a low level of arousal like sadness is less likely to be shared. The sadder the content, the poorer the transmission rate. When you make your audience feel depressed, dull, helpless, or bored, you deactivate them, and thus, they won’t be prone to share your content.
- Make your readers/fans highly aroused. Regardless of whether the emotion is positive or negative, the key is to activate them. Therefore, emotions such as awe, surprise, anger, fear, anxiety, or pride are preferred while content that makes the audience content, relaxed, sad, or helpless should be avoided.For instance, BMW’s series of short films by the name of “The Hire” was filled with car chases and storylines that evoked anxiety. Thanks to a high arousal emotion, they generated millions of views.
- Allow your fans to have a positive emotional effect on their network. This means that you generate content that will make them feel uplifting, which in turn will make them want to share that feeling with others. And they’ll want to be seen as the cause of other’s good mood.They also want to be seen as someone who knows what’s interesting or entertaining. So the content that’s being shared will reflect positively on them. They want to feel important, who doesn’t?
Creators, we can help them achieve that inner feeling.
- Target high sharers. You know those users who you always see sharing on social media? Those should be your first choice! That way you maximize your online exposure within the first days of content release, and that will increase the odds of making your content go viral.
I could summarize all of the above, but I think the most important thing is to start doing the actual work.
Get your article, video, advert, or whatever piece of content you’re creating, filled with high arousal emotions, preferably positive emotions, and launch it into the world.
You know the drill.
Work on your craft, learn some online tricks on the way, and keep faking it until you make it.
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