You probably know that emotions inspire people to take action, be it signing up to volunteer, voting for a particular candidate, or in our case, commenting on an article online.
But what are the specific emotions that inspire engagement the most? We’ve dug through the research and come up with four emotions most closely associated with virally-shared engaging content. We explain them below—along with how to incorporate them into your own content!
We use the term “awesome” so casually nowadays that it’s come to be diluted from its actual meaning: something that inspires awe, the feeling of being profoundly moved by something powerful and meaningful.
When people experience an event that truly awes them (the National Geographic documentary March of the Penguins and the BBC’s Planet Earth come to mind), they have feelings of being part of something “greater than themselves,” or a connectedness to others. This inspires a natural reaction to want to talk about and pass along that feeling.
It’s not easy to instill the feeling of true awe, but you can improve your chances by seeking out great stories among your staff, customers and audience. Always have your ears open for stories of people who have overcome odds, triumphed over challenges or done the incredible. Then, share them with your audience.
In a study by China’s Beihang University, researchers analyzed the way information spreads through social media. More specifically, they were looking to discover whether any one emotion caused information to be spread more rapidly.
Their findings were surprising: joyful news and information spread quickly, but posts that were associated with emotions of anger elicited responses even faster.
This isn’t to say you should try to make your audience angry, of course. But you can capitalize on this emotional response by covering issues that are controversial in your field.
For example, if there’s a news story that’s getting everyone in your industry fired up, you might write a post sharing your opinion or interviewing other experts on the topic, then asking readers to share their own comments.
There’s a reason why we laugh so hard at jokes with a totally unexpected punch line: our brains are wired to be delighted by surprise. Psychology Today explains the phenomenon well in this article.
Essentially, our brains fire in a different way when they notice something new or different—and that leads to a state of imbalance from the norm. Surprise makes people want to take action, be that through telling a friend, sharing a video on social media, or leaving a comment on your site.
You might surprise readers by telling a story with an unusual outcome, making a big announcement with no advance notice, or making an unexpected change to your site.
It’s the feeling you get when you hold a tiny puppy or when you arrive at the DMV and there’s no line. Delight can take a number of forms, from humor to relaxation and many variants in between.
As Neil Patel explains in his guide to consumer emotions, delight is a powerful feeling we should carefully craft into our content to inspire sharing (and caring) among our audience members.
Delight not only inspires your readers to want to share the feeling by discussing it with others, but helps their brain associate positive feelings with your brand.
Some ways to build delight include sharing funny content, offering surprise freebies, and engaging directly with your users to add value.
How do you incorporate these emotions into your content?