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Using Emotion to Boost Your Social Media Strategy

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Emotions are an enormous driver of action that greatly influence our decision making. Studies have shown that people are more likely to make purchases from companies they feel emotionally connected to. And emotional marketing campaigns perform about twice as well as campaigns with only rational content according to an analysis by neuroscience marketing.

These days, people want more from a company than a product; they want a brand they can connect with and trust. They want to feel something.

Social media makes it easy to connect with your audience, and using emotion in your social media marketing strategy can really amp up your game. You can use social media to provide insight into who you are as a brand, what you stand for, and to truly share something special with your audience.

While emotional marketing campaigns are more effective, creating ads or content for a social media marketing strategy that engage a customer’s emotions isn’t easy. It takes listening to and understanding your customers as well as significant research and planning- but it’s well worth the extra effort. Here are a few techniques to help you successfully use emotion to boost your social media marketing strategy and engage with your audience.

Know your audience

The first step to connecting with your audience is to understand them. Who are your customers? What are they looking for? How do your customers interact with your brand? How does your audience use your products and services? What does your brand mean to them? Conduct surveys on your website, through email, and through social media to gather information about your customers. Then use this information to create a social media marketing campaign.

Most social media channels provide simple data tools that allow you to see the level of engagement of each post including the number of views, likes, shares and comments. Try new things and see how they work by analyzing corresponding data and the response you get from your audience. Tap into what your audience cares about.

The #LikeAGirl campaign run by the brand Always is a great example of this. Always created a series of videos showing girls do things “like a girl” which generally has a negative connotation to it. In this campaign, Always uncovered deep-rooted emotions in women – it shows that they truly understand their target market and relate to them which is very meaningful for their audience. The videos evoked all kinds of emotion such as empathy, courage, and compassion. They were inspiring, empowering, and spread like wildfire. The videos were shared on social media channels and the hashtag grew into a whole movement for women.

Think about the emotions you want to evoke

Think about how you would like to be seen as a brand. What emotions do you want people to feel when they think about your brand or see your logo? For example, sports brandstend to evoke motivation, yoga brands radiate peace and wellness, while non-profits tend to evoke compassion. Other emotions you may want to elicit include excitement, humor, happiness, shock, or even fear, sadness,or anger depending on the context. Once you have an idea of the type of emotional response you want to elicit, use this to guide your social media posts.

A good example is World Wildlife Fund’s #LastSelfie campaign. WWF used Snapchat to post photos of endangered animals such as tigers, orangutans, and rhinos that could only be viewed for a few seconds with quotes such as “In 6 seconds I’ll be gone forever, but you can still save my kind”. This campaign used the Snapchat platform perfectly to parallel the fleeting nature of species that are in danger of extinction. WWF was extremely successful in reaching millennials and eliciting emotions of shock, compassion, fear, and even anger, compelling people to take action and become aware of such important issues.

Tell your story well

A central part of marketing is telling a true story well. Convey the company’s story in a compelling way. Look at the big picture and use social media to tell your audience how your company is changing the world for the better. For example, you’re not only selling a cookbook, you’re selling a cookbook that will help moms short on time make healthy meals for their family. Incorporate this type of feeling and meaning into your social media posts. Focus on how your products or services touch the lives of actual people and give your audience a reason to care.

In writing, you may have heard the phrase “show, don’t tell”; the same applies to marketing. For example, don’t just say your company is changing people’s lives, show them with a touching example. This could be in the form of a short humorous video or insightful testimonial shared on your social media channels.

Show that your company is built of real people

Provide insight into who you are as a company and what you stand for. Use social media to show your audience how your business has evolved over time and who the faces behind the business are.Your audience wants to see you as more than just a machine selling a product or a service. They want to connect with you, so help them do so.

Develop a voice and speak to your customers directly through social media. Be real and be human. Don’t be scared to have some personality. And always respond promptly to comments and questions. This shows that you actually care about your audience, value their feedback, and appreciate them taking the time to reach out to you and participate in the conversation.

Create a bond with your audience

Social media has created a two-way communication channel between businesses and their customers. Use this to your advantage and start the conversation. Ask your audience for their opinion and provide ways for them to get involved. This not only makes them feel valued and shows that you care about them, but it will give you valuable insight into how you are doing and how your audience perceives your brand. Feedback from your audience will provide insight into how you can improve your products, services, and marketing strategy. Their comments might give you a good idea for a blog post, piece of content, or a social media campaign.

For example, many companies engage with their audience through social media contests or by posting a daily photo selected from audience submissions. It’s a fun way to involve and showcase your community as well as increase mentions of your brand.

Relate to your customers in your posts

Uncover stories about your brand and the way your customers are using your products or services and share these stories on social media. Feature real people, real situations, genuine emotions, and actual facts in your content. Tell your story in the context of your customers’ life and what matters to them and then relate to them.

For example, if you sell travel backpacks, share real stories of people who are traveling with one of your backpacks. Encourage travelers to post photos and stories of their trip while using the backpack and then feature those stories on your social media channels.

Share a variety of content

Use social media to share content that is inspiring in a variety of formats. The content you post doesn’t have to be solely about the company or product and should refrain from being a blatant add. You want to create an emotional connection with your audience: help them, inspire them, and make them feel something. Develop an authentic voice and communicate clear, concise ideas. Think about unifying themes that can be used as a rallying cry for your audience.

Inspirational photos, touching stories, and motivational quotes have proven to be successful for social media posts. Short videos are also a great way to let your audience get to know you better. Use hashtags to start a movement or show a sense of humor. Tags like #throwbackthursday can be used to share company history or reminisce on past events or occasions.

Hold back the pitch

You’re not always trying to generate direct sales with social media marketing. Instead, the goal is to establish brand recognition as well as a relationship and emotional connection with your audience. You want to create awareness of your company in a way that will lead people to talk about you positively and feel a connection to you.

For example, the #LikeaGirl campaign referenced above didn’t feature any of Always’ products in the videos. As a campaign designed to evoke emotion and empower women, it didn’t seem appropriate to blatantly place the products into the video. The videos successfully created an emotional connection to the brand as well as extensive brand awareness with an enormous reach which indirectly led to increased sales.

Using emotion should be a central tenant of any digital marketing campaign or strategy from social media marketing to email, print, and content marketing. Creating a meaningful emotional connection with your audience will help you gain loyal customers and long-term brand recognition. 


Gone were the days when social media was only used for interaction purpose. Now, with the evolution of digital marketing, social media has become another valuable platform that has the potential of growing your business. To understand Social Media Marketing completely, enroll in our Social Media Certification Course.

Linda Halabi is a writer and photographer who writes creative content on behalf of the digital marketing experts at Marketing Zen. An avid traveler and culture enthusiast, she loves to fit in adventures whenever possible. When not working, you can find her exploring the outdoors, doing yoga, and cooking healthy vegetarian food. You can connect with Linda on LinkedIn.

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