Emotions In Digital Content

When we recognize emotional content on the web, sometimes it is from a tweet or comment that toes the line between genuine and trolling. Direct emotional pieces, like a flaming blog rant, are usually dismissed by normal digital patrons which creates a bad rap for the use of emotion on the web. This is rather unfortunate.

Emotions are a tricky, yet effective, rhetorical component to add to your digital content. Emotions can persuade people at the subconscious level while creating a genuine connection between users and content. They also allow you to express complex thoughts and ideas in an engaging way. On the other hand, doing emotions “the right way” can be difficult if you don’t have an understanding of the effect of emotional content. This can be worse if you have no idea what kind of emotional content you are actually including.

Over the next few weeks, I will be focusing on the use of emotions in digital content. The first step is to understand emotional effect and the ideal type of emotional connection we should be making with content consumers. This week, we are taking a look at what kind of influence emotional content has through social media and digital content.

Keep in mind that emotional content can take on a variety of forms. An article or message doesn’t necessarily need to be oozing with emotion to have a psychological effect. Emotions can exist naturally in the content or topic just as much as they can be infused into the content by content makers. Viral researchers have looked at emotional digital content from a wide variety of sources. The following infographic presents a unique look at emotional content, based on research that examined how emotional content affects the likeliness of content sharing, and how users forward viral videos based on emotional reactions.

The Ideal Emotional Connection

From this research, a few points are important to remember:

  1. Users that have an emotional connection with content are more likely to share.
  2. Content can either be general or specific to the audience. Specific content must be relevant to the audience.
  3. Content should aim for high arousal emotions that are likely to spur action from users.
  4. Positive and negative high arousal emotions are almost equally effective.

The real key to success with emotional content is the emotional connection users have with the content. As you can see from the infographic, certain types of emotions are likely to encourage viral sharing more than others. This can give you an idea of what kind of emotional connection you should be making with your audience. Essentially, you are shooting for:

Genuine emotional connections to high arousal emotions experienced from relevant content.

Having this “target emotion” in mind, the next step is to figure out how you can actually measure the emotion in a way that is more thorough than just how the content “makes you feel”. Next week, I will be looking at how analyze and measure emotion within digital content. Stay tuned!