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6 Emotions That Will Make or Break Your Content Strategy
By: Contently
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For decades, marketers have had it drummed into them that triggering an emotional response from the audience is a vital component of any successful marketing campaign. This is still true, and nowhere more so than with content marketing. However, the art of marketing has evolved so much that this truism needs to be reassessed.

Although marketing in the age of social means contending with a daunting amount of noise and competition, it also offers dazzling potential for reach and impact if done right.

U.K. retailer John Lewis, for instance, only started producing its annual Christmas advertisement in 2007, but since then, it has become an eagerly anticipated institution of the festive period. The Christmas campaigns succeed by ignoring the hard sell, opting instead to tell heartwarming stories about generous children. The mantra of pathos over product placement is paying off. The 2015 ad was mentioned 23,000 times on social media within just two hours of being released, a testament to the power of smart, emotional content.

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising found that marketing underscored by emotion performed twice as well as campaigns based around rational thinking. In short, using emotion in content marketing isn’t so much an option as a necessity—as long as you use it the right way.

Traditionally, marketing has been dominated by two emotions: happiness and fear. Eliciting happiness is a no-brainer; people associating your business or product with positivity is clearly a good thing. Stories that are awe-inspiring, amusing, or funny are much more likely to be shared than other types of emotional content. According to a 2014 BuzzSumo analysis of the 10,000 stories with the most shares, awe, laughter, and amusement were the three most popular emotions, accounting for 57 percent of the content.

Why not chase happiness all the time? Because consistently hitting the mark is very difficult, if not impossible. A story that is too contrived or too manipulative can make you look disingenuous. Upworthy, one of the first media companies to invest heavily in emotional clickbait, had nearly 90 million uniques in November 2013; last month, however, the site had less than 13 million uniques. The sheer amount of positive content out there also makes it tougher to stand out from the competition. This shouldn’t be a deterrent in itself, but it’s worth bearing in mind when thinking about balancing your output with other emotional triggers.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is fear. Content based on fear has good potential for virality. As Buffer’s Courtney Seiter noted, “The theory is that when we’re scared, we need to share the experience with others.”

In the research paper “What Makes Content Go Viral?” Dr. Jonah Berger, author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, and Katherine Milkman, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, found that content that New York Times‘s content that triggered anxiety performed 21 percent better than average.

However, fear needs to be wielded wisely. While evoking happiness is a relatively broad goal, fear is much more subjective and the margin for error is narrower. For every success story, such as hand sanitizer company GoJo using the swine flu pandemic as a way of emphasizing the importance of its product, there are many examples of companies misjudging the tone of their content, as was the case with Nationwide’s much-criticized commercial from last year’s Super Bowl.

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About the Author
This article was first published by Contently.com. A link to the original can be found at the bottom of the post. www.contently.com
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