Emotional engagement is the key to content marketing success. People discover and share information, videos, pictures and other types of media constantly. Viral content seems to take on a life of its own, rapidly spreading among the masses in much the same way as a real virus does among people.
Eliciting an emotional response is an essential element of all successful viral content marketing campaigns. It’s human nature that people want to share the experiences that stir their emotions by communicating them to others. When people develop strong, deep feelings around an experience or message, social sharing becomes impulsive.
Negative content tends to be less viral than positive content, while awe-inspiring content and content that surprises or is humorous is more likely to be shared. Content that causes sadness can become viral but is generally less likely to. Content that evokes anger is likely to be shared more, in fact, the study demonstrated that the strongest forecaster of virality is how much anger does the message evoke.
Interestingly, while conventional wisdom is that people will share negative news more than positive, the results of the study indicated that overall, positive news is actually more viral.
An emotional response to the message is what triggers the reaction to share.
The 6 Primary Emotions
Our six primary emotions are primarily what determines viral behavior and reactions. Here are a few recommendations for creating content taking the six (surprise, fear, sadness, joy, disgust and anger) primary emotions into consideration.
Surprise – Surprise is the single common element of viral content. However; because surprise alone cannot guaranteee success, it needs to be combined with other emotions.
What surprises people? Anything unexpected, common assumptions proven wrong, new ideas or ways of doing things, asking a provocative question, making a bold statement or assertion.
Fear – Fear is a great motivator and it causes people to take action. When using fear within your content, exercise caution, you’re likely to receive a mixed response. To increase your odds of creating a successful piece of content also include possible solutions that solve the fear-causing problem you’ve presented.
Joy – Positive, uplifting, inspirational content will almost always become more viral than negative. If your content can make people laugh, or smile back at the computer screen, chances are they will also share the content.
Sadness – Sadness is usually a response to unfortunate events and generally has a low chance of going viral. There are exception to this including high profile deaths, entertainment gossip, natural disasters and other news-type events.
Anger – Evoking anger is powerful in creating viral content, and by that I don’t mean “hostile” anger. I’m speaking of an emotional response that occurs when someone strongly disagrees with your position or message. Adept copywriters know this and often use it in their headlines to grab the readers attention.
Disgust – Content that evokes disgust may become viral among small groups, but generally does not appeal to the masses and is best to be avoided.
Content that elicits two or more types of emotional responses will greatly increases the odds of virality.
People are far more likely to share content with others when they are emotionally engaged. Viral content is not content that is just “okay”, its strong, unique and powerful and delivers a message worth sharing.