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how to get more shares

Going Viral: How to Get More Shares by Evoking Emotion

“Give them quality. That is the best kind of advertising.” – Milton Hershey

Most marketers dream of having their content and advertisements go viral, but it’s something that’s much easier said than done. In author Jonah Berger’s book Contagious: Why Things Catch On, he examines why certain products and ideas become popular, and what marketers can do to ensure that their brand and advertisements are seen by as many eyes as possible.

In this article, we’ll share a few tips from Contagious that your marketing department can implement to increase the likelihood that your advertisements will go viral and attract a larger audience.

Strong emotions prompt us to share

Here’s a task for you – go onto your preferred news website and take a look at the headlines that are on the front page. Do the titles the journalists choose evoke any emotions in you, positive or negative? They should.

Screenshot 2019-08-26 At 11.35.44 AM – EditedThere’s a famous saying in the world of media – “If it bleeds, it leads.” What this means is that people tune into, and more importantly share, news that makes them feel strong emotions (generally negative emotions but not always). News stations, blogs, and other media entities are always looking to post the most spectacular, stirring, and controversial stories – it’s what pays their bills. (img source)

If you want to create advertising that’s effective and shareable, you have to evoke strong emotions in your audience. When working on a campaign that you want to go viral, keep the following in mind – does your marketing:

give your audience butterflies in their stomach?

make their blood boil?

take their breath away?

make their hearts beat faster?

Remember, when it comes to share-ability, it doesn’t matter if the emotions aroused in your audience are positive or negative – they’ll share as long as the emotional state evoked is strong and not weak. Weak emotions like sadness or contentment don’t promote sharing; positive emotions like amazement and awe or negative emotions like outrage or anxiety will always be shared more frequently.

When we experience strong emotions we generally bottle them up until we find an opportunity to release the emotional energy. If you do it right, your audience will release that energy by talking and sharing your marketing with others.

Facts won’t change peoples’ minds, but emotions can

We like to pretend that our actions are always logical and rational, but it’s often not the case; many of the decisions we make are dictated by our underlying emotional states. This is why sharing facts when trying to change someone’s behavior is rarely effective – take smoking for example.

Say you’re a parent and you’re trying to convince your child to stop smoking; you can print out pages of facts and statistics stating how dangerous the behavior is, but that’s not likely to make them change. They already know the risks going into it.

What can make them change? A shift in their emotions towards the behavior.

Screenshot 2019-08-26 At 12.24.36 PM – EditedWhen governments started forcing cigarette companies to include gruesome, disgusting images of peoples’ lungs on their packages, rates of smoking went down significantly. These graphic images prompted an emotional response in people that they didn’t experience when only hearing the facts.

Anti-soda ad shows man drinking fat

What does this mean for your marketing department?                               

Emotions prevail when it comes to effective advertising – reiterating the first point, it’s critical that you make your audience feel something. Rather than relying on facts or features alone, focus on feelings – emotions will motivate people to take action. (img source)

Consider the many men’s products that use attractive women in their advertisements – why do they do this? The company behind the cologne could tell you how it smells and what ingredients went into it, but would that convince anyone to buy? They instead show images of beautiful women cozied up with the cologne-wearer because it evokes feelings in their audience. Don’t forget – strong feelings = more shares.

Make your advertising valuable

According to the StopAd blog, the average person sees around 5,000 advertisements per day. How do you make your marketing stand out in a world that’s growing more saturated with ads by the day?

Start by making it valuable.

BMUxlSMCUAEEtChIf you offer practical and valuable information within your advertisement, it won’t be ignored. In the online realm, this practice is known as content marketing. What you’re reading right now is an advertisement, in a sense – this article is offering you practical value in hopes that you’ll check out the rest of our website and see what we have to offer.

No matter the industry you’re in, you can make your advertising valuable. Imagine you work for a company that sells juicers; on your website, you can post short videos showing people how to pick the freshest produce, how to make tasty and healthy juices, and how to store juice to keep it fresh. Offering this content will get people interested in juicing to your site; from there you can begin building a relationship with your visitors and work towards converting them into customers. (img source)

When it comes to virality, useful articles are 30% more likely to be emailed and shared than non-useful articles. Creating useful content should be the primary goal of your marketing department – there’s no replacing it’s role in your strategy to achieve virality. Your audience will quickly see through poorly-constructed content even if you’re able to evoke emotion within them, so don’t try to get one over on them if you’re looking to build a sustainable relationship.


Do you have any suggestions for achieving virality, or do you believe it’s mostly up to chance? Leave a comment on our LinkedIn or Facebook pages letting us know what you think! 


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