Content Marketers and the Five Emotions of Highly Viral Content

If you are going to do content marketing right, you need to have the ability to persuade. Your success depends on your ability to convince your audience. The problem for marketers is that the decision-making process for the target audience is often murky. It is hard to understand why the audience will make certain decisions and choices. We can blame this on the complexity of the brain. In ancient man, the human brain dictated basic actions such as fight or flight.

Through evolution the brain learn to experience emotions, became more aware and begin to problem solve. While you might think that the later version of the brain is responsible for the more logical decisions that we make, recent research studies indicate that the earlier version of the human brain has a major part to play in determining the actions that we take and buy.

Everyone knows that emotions play a major role in determining our purchasing decisions. Emotions are also the main reason why consumers prefer brand name products. Think of the the products we purchase which are also available generically and and at cheaper prices. Why do you decide to pay more for Apple products?

Antonio Damasio, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Southern California, in an authored book, Descartes Error argues that emotion is a necessary ingredient to the majority all decisions.  Peter Noel Murray, Ph.D, says that Damasio’s view is based on his studies of people “whose connections between the “thinking” and “emotional” areas of the brain had been damaged. They were capable of rationally processing information about alternative choices; but were unable to make decisions because they lacked any sense of how they felt about the options”.

It’s obvious then, that marketers need to fully understand and prioritize their efforts on how their audience feel rather than focusing too much on product features. If you are creating content it means you’re going to have to connect and strike an emotional nerve. The first tactic would be to have an intriguing title. It’s the first thing your readers going to see, and if they are not motivated your links will be shared on social media and the reader would most likely click on something else. They are so many media outlets that are write for shock value, but if you are hoping to have your content go viral, Harvard researchers have determined that certain emotions are always present in highly viral content in a study that they carried out.

If your content is still have a high probability of going viral you would want to ensure you evoke these emotions: interest, curiosity, amazement, astonishment and uncertainty. Images are also important for provoking emotional responses. Images are easy to understand and engage users which a single emotional event. The Harvard research found that negative emotions were less commonly found in highly viral content than positive emotions, but viral success was still possible when negative emotion also evoked anticipation and surprise.

Marketers and content creators are no longer in charge of what people chose to see. If you want to grab people’s attention, and guarantee a high click rate and social media shares then you are going to have to create content worthy of consumers’ time and emotional investment.

Image Credit: Booshoo via Flickr

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