It’s no secret that social media platforms are directly linked with human emotion. We might feel intense joy at the announcement of a friend’s engagement on Facebook; profound sadness at the news of tragic misfortune on Twitter; sheer happiness at the scores of cute cat pictures on Instagram; extreme envy at a colleague’s promotion on LinkedIn; or severe outrage at the offensive opinion of a loud-mouthed blogger.
Countless research has been conducted into the effects social media has on our emotions. In 2012, Facebook’s data scientists transformed the news feeds of almost 700,000 users into real-time experiments by removing either all positive or negative posts to discover how it would affect emotion.
While the research sparked controversy surrounding Facebook’s ethics and access to user data, the results found sparked a lot of interest. Unsurprisingly, those exposed to positive news were emotionally more positive in response and those exposed to negative news were withdrawn and less expressive.
In 2013, Ethan Kross, Director of the Emotion and Self Control Lab at University of Michigan teamed up with Philippe Verduyn of Leuven University in Belgium to identify the connection between the time a user spent on Facebook and their emotional state. Their results, published in the Public Library of Science and reported in The Economist and The New Yorker, revealed that their subjects felt less satisfied with life the more they used Facebook.
Can businesses leverage from emotional social campaigns?
Any business or organisation using social networking to engage and interact with their audience or customer base endeavours to build a positive and meaningful relationship, encourage brand loyalty, and ultimately convert these interactions into sales or transactions. But what about those who cause outrage online? All publicity is good publicity, right?
With 6,000 tweets tweeted on average every second, 40 million pictures uploaded to Instagram daily, and more than 30 billion pieces of content shared on Facebook every month, it may seem that reaching out to your audience is impossible.
It’s here we ask the big questions – can you level-up your social media campaigns with pure emotion? Can emotions help your campaign go viral?
What emotion do you want to connect with?
The first step in using emotion to drive a social media campaign is to establish which emotion you want to connect with.
Conventionally, charities and third sector organisations appeal to their audience’s compassion and empathy to encourage donations, goodwill gestures and general generosity. In 2014, Greenpeace’s superb video, Lego: Everything is not awesome, calling on the children’s toy manufacturer to end its longstanding partnership with Shell, was viewed by 6 million people worldwide. Depicting scenes of climate change and global disaster made from Lego blocks, Greenpeace appealed to the world’s compassion and urged viewers to sign their petition. The results? Lego listened and ended their 50-year relationship with the oil giant.
Sports and healthy living brands tend to drive ambition and motivation through campaigns to spur changes in attitude and lifestyle. One of Nike’s first digital campaigns in 2010 transformed London into a real-time game board to inspire youngsters to run. The campaign, GRID, dotted four telephone boxes around London where participants could pick up instructions and compete in running to the next box. Participants were awarded with virtual badges on social media and a true sense of pride and achievement.
Car manufacturers and fashion labels both charm their audiences with aspirational campaigns, appealing directly to their happiness and desires. Upon reaching 500,000 Facebook fans in Germany, car manufacturer Audi created a spectacular Social Stunt in which legendary racing driver, Rinaldo “Dindo” Capollo wrote the number ‘500,000’ with the tyres of an Audi R8 on a Barcelona racetrack. The stunt was transformed into 20 original prints, which were awarded to 20 of Audi’s most passionate and interactive Facebook fans as a surprise. This fuelled gratitude and brand loyalty.
Drawing your audience in with an emotional headline
Whether you’re sharing a blog, video, photo, or product on social media, you’ll need a headline that will resonate with your audience, evoke emotion and ultimately inspire them to click on your link.
It’s no secret that a headline can take a long time to craft, but there are plenty of tricks to help you get your headline right:
- Draw your audience in with a secret – appeal to their appetite for inside knowledge, make them feel valued and let them know that they’re in for an exclusive surprise.
- Think powerful and sensational – there’s nothing like powerful words and sensational phrases to spark curiosity and spur your audience on to sharing your content. Copyblogger’s handy list of trigger words is an extremely useful resource.
- Swap words and restructure – if you think you’ve chosen the right words, think again! Create plenty of variations of your title, and don’t be afraid to play around with your structure to make your words more memorable.
Personalisation = Interaction
While you may not have found your name on a bottle, you’re probably aware of Coke’s ground-breaking 2013 Share a Coke campaign. The company replaced its usual branded bottles with popular names across the globe, encouraging customers to buy personalised products. The results in the UK alone were truly spectacular, as Coca-Cola Journey’s editor, Matthew Hepburn revealed on their website:
“Within six months of launching, there were 330 million impressions on Twitter, with nearly 170,000 tweets from 160,000 fans. #ShareaCoke was trending and became a hot topic of conversation, which led us to release a hundred more names and even congratulate Wills and Kate on the birth of Prince George.”
Research by Intent HQ in 2013 supported the notion that consumers are drawn to personalised campaigns, concluding that over half of social network users in the UK (53%) were willing to share data from their social media profiles to see products and content relevant to their interests – that is, personalised content.
We may not all have the luxury of a world-leading marketing team and the funds to back it, but learning from Coke’s campaign can help us implement a more personal social media strategy. User-generated content is taking social media by storm, and tailoring your campaign to your audience’s interests will give them a more personalised experience online.