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Tapping Into Emotions is Key to Effective Social Media Campaigns
By: Christine Geraci
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In January, city officials in Hoboken, NJ decided to cancel the city's annual St. Patrick's Day parade, citing an inability to effectively manage safety concerns. For a number of years, the event spurned hundreds of arrests and complaints of lewd and rowdy behavior from residents.

Angered and disappointed, residents James Murphy and Jaime Darrah took to Facebook. It appears they started the chain of random Facebook invites to city residents for what would be known as "Lepre-Con," an alternative St. Patrick's Day event for Hoboken, driven purely by social media and word of mouth.

When the event took place March 3, it had garnered more than 18,000 "attending" event responses on Facebook, and Hoboken was trending on Twitter.

We use this example on the eve of St. Patrick's Day to drive home an important point: Effective use of social media taps into people's emotions.

Two random Hoboken residents were angry about a parade being canceled. So, they used social media to find other like-minded individuals, then pull off an event anyway. When people are passionate about a topic or cause, you won't need shiny billboards or coupons or special offers to garner their support. You will, however, need a plan. Take a look at these steps from the book The Dragonfly Effect, highlighted here by the Stanford Graduate School of Business:

Set a goal. Focus on one clear outcome. Outline the steps you will need to take to achieve that goal, and create an action plan.

Get your audience's attention. Once you know what you want to do, decide how you want to get people to stand up and take notice. Usually, this includes some sort of visual imagery, such as photos or a video.

Engage. Use multiple tools to tell your story. Listen and respond to stories shared by others. Use the stories you tell online to inspire people's actions offline. This part is very crucial, because here is where you're given the opportunity to focus on your audience, not on yourself. An audience that feels a person or organization identifies with their needs by triggering certain emotions in them will be willing to help that person or organization carry out their goals.

Call your audience to action. Once you have engaged your audience, explain how they can help you achieve your common goal. If people identify with your cause, they will be ready and willing to make it THEIR cause. Give them the direction they want and need.

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About the Author
Christine Geraci is the Social Media/Promotions Specialist at MVP Health Care in Schenectady, NY. Connect with her on Twitter @christinegeraci.
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