Emotion: The Key to Viral Content

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contentThink about the very last thing you shared on social media. Something that hit you a certain way you just had to pass it along to your followers. What was going through your mind? Why did you want to share it?

Odds are, it was because you felt something. You saw something that made you laugh, smile, cry, cringe, gasp or nod. The content hit you in the gut, in the heart or in the mind so strongly, that you simply had to tell others about it.

The way content makes us feel is often what prompts us to hit the share button. And that’s why it’s such an important element of viral content.

Truth of the matter is, people like to share emotional experiences. When we feel something, we want others to experience it too. Therefore, content that triggers a personal, emotional response is more likely to get shared online.

So, when attempting to create a successful campaign or a high-traffic post, which emotion do you evoke?

It may seem like we live in a jaded world, focused solely on the negative; however, I will argue that positive messages generate more attention than the negative ones. Most people seem instinctively drawn to the sentiments of joy, amusement, happiness, anticipation, surprise and hope, which is the first step in getting others to share your story.

In fact, some of HMA’s most-viewed blog posts centered on positive experiences. Whether it was a milestone birthday, work anniversary, proud accomplishment or exciting announcement, the sanguine message made our readers click.

That’s because feel-good content is innately primed for social sharing. And that isn’t to say that negative messages aren’t either. Those that instill anger, frustration and/or sadness have its fair share of virality. However, when building a brand based on customers, readers or followers, I have found it to be the least successful means to attracting and keeping an audience.

The bottom line is this, people are far more likely to share content when they are emotionally connected and engaged. Create content that is valuable to your audience and provokes them to tell others, almost without thinking. Oh, and push the envelope a little. Viral content is not mediocre. It’s strong, unique, contagious and powerful. It delivers a message worth sharing-- might as well make it a positive one.

Kelsey Makings
Kelsey Makings
A former HMA Public Relations employee.

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