Have you ever wondered why some ideas catch on and others don’t? There are at least five major reasons that Wharton Professor Jonah Berger identifies in his recent book: Contagious: Why Things Catch.
I’d like to focus on one key driver for contagion: Emotion. Common sense will tell us that content that carries an emotional valence or triggers emotion will make a greater impact. However, like the animals in Animal Farm, not all emotional content is created equal when it comes to being shareable. Professor Berger’s work found, for example, that content that triggers the emotion of sadness is less likely to be shared, whereas content that triggers the negative emotions of anxiety or anger is more likely to be shared. His research designates “high-arousal” emotional states as critical to sharing, whereas “low-arousal” emotional states tend to reduce sharing. Concerning positive emotions, low-arousal contentment reduces sharing, whereas excitement, awe and amusement (humor) increase sharing.
The engaging, arousing and relatable qualities of humor tie back to insights from the Marketing to Moms Coalition’s State of the American Mom Research that found one of the most interesting ways to catch Mom’s attention with an advertisement was through humor. Of all moms, 86% said the best way to relate to her was to make her laugh. And if Mom is amused, she will be more likely to share. Being a mother is a huge responsibility, so brands often engage with moms in a one-dimensional serious and nurturing way, without remembering that moms have a lighter side.
A good example of shareable, humorous content is Similac’s recent “Mommy Wars” marketing execution that was uploaded on Jan. 17th and has now gone viral, with over 7 million views after a mere two weeks. The execution uses humor to showcase warring camps of parents, such as stay-at-home moms, working moms, stay-at-home dads, etc.
Answer These ‘Emotionally-Charged’ Questions for Business Results
Is there a science to emotions that brands can tap into? How can your brand build a base of emotionally-connected consumers? And which emotions are best for your category and brand?
For brands to be successful with an emotion-based marketing strategy, a critical step is the ability to convert emotional intelligence and insights into specific, actionable initiatives that drive business results. Business results are critical, such as spending or usage; increased visits; increased recommendations or referrals, and increased number of products purchased.
Driving business results based on emotional connection is the mission of one Bay Area company, Motista. This firm is taking a big-data, scientific approach to emotions and has converted its insights into recommendations and business results for its clients in a wide range of industries including financial services, retail, B2B, CPG and more. Motista’s approach brings disciplined strategy and tactics together, to help brands build emotional connection. With its big-data approach, Motista finds that not all emotions are created equal in driving emotional connection and associated business results. They are able to pinpoint the most critical emotions for your brand and help drive that connection.
So, is your brand using emotion to drive emotional connection and to get its ideas to catch on? If you don’t, your competition probably will.