Does your business connect with your customers or audience on an emotional level?
If you want your content to cut through the noise, two of the most effective things to do is make it emotive, or make it topical.
Whether it tugs at the heartstrings or adds something to a current conversation – what’s undeniable is the ability for this kind of content to move people. Brands that can lock this down usually know how to gain a following and – even better – persuade people.
Social media analysts Buzzsumo analysed the social share counts of over 100 million articles over 8 months, to find out what types of emotions did the most popular articles invoke.
The investigation revealed the most popular three emotions invoked were:
- Awe (25%)
- Laughter (17%)
- Amusement (15%).
No matter if your budget is big or small, if you can address topical issues with honesty and generosity of spirit, it can go a long way for your brand. Below are some of the biggest issues of the past year, and the ways various organisations have responded through content – often with viral results.
Act For Peace
This video by Australian Not For Profit, Act For Peace, spread on social media, stirring up debate on the hotly contested issue. While it was based on a similar experiment by the Pillion Trust in the UK, the Australian video received many more views – over 248,000 so far. Articles from Mashable, The Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Mail discussing the video and its viral status were shared over 3,000 times. The film is well made, and the message is clear. It successfully ignited discussion as well as empathy for their cause and unprecedented visibility for the brand.
World Food Bank
It can be very difficult to express and explain a complicated global issue in a two-minute video. Often with these kinds of issues, video campaigns present us with grainy video footage of decrepit refugee camps and starving children with boney arms and bulging bellies. This video from the World Food Bank took a different tact, with a simple and effective animation – which received over 650,000 views on YouTube. It may have divided opinions, but the short, simple video of eye-catching animations – in combination with the good intent and the dulcet tones of Liam Neeson’s voice – was certainly an effective way to deliver their message.
In the wake of an ongoing international refugee crisis, one company took up the challenge to try and make a difference. TripAdvisor posted a page on their site declaring that they would donate $250,000 dollars to two major refugee aid organisations, as well as match subsequent donations from the TripAdvisor community. Over just a few days TripAdvisor raised over $1 million. The page they posted simply featured a statement directly from company CEO Steve Kaufer.
The content was simple, the purpose straightforward, but the scale was impressive. Raising $1 million dollars is no small gesture, and to top it off, TripAdvisor promised five days of paid leave to any employee wishing to travel to a volunteer organisation aiding refugees.
Aside from raising a significant amount of money, it generated a lot of publicity, including spots on CNN and other news programs. An act like this can cement an opinion of a brand in the minds of customers and potential customers – in this instance, being trustworthy, generous, and globally aware. While this kind of gesture isn’t possible for the mere mortals of the brand world, it does go to show that even if the medium is simple, a strong, good-hearted message can reverberate around the world.
When the United States Supreme Court ruled that the constitution affords same-sex couple the right to marry, there was worldwide celebration. People in support of marriage equality rejoiced and individuals, politicians and companies alike threw their support behind the decision. The #LoveWins hashtag went viral, stacking up over 10 million tweets in the first day after the ruling.
This is one of the biggest viral hashtags to be born into the Twittersphere, with Twitter even altering the platform to embed a rainbow emoji after each #LoveWins or #Pride. To put the scale of this in perspective, the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag also went viral after the terrorist attacks in Paris in January 2015. The event had a profound impact on people across the world, and just six hours after the event the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag had been used 2.1 million times. Six hours after the US Supreme Court ruling, #LoveWins had been tweeted 6.2 million times.
But perhaps the most interesting element to this social movement was the customised content that poured from brands, celebrities, NFP’s and political organisations, amplified through Twitter. Customised logos, photos and header pictures, as well as GIFs and videos rolled thick and fast on social media feeds.
Whether this content was the result of true ideological support or simply a desire for extra publicity, these were displays of newsjacking at it’s finest. Due to the emotional nature of the #LoveWins campaign, people were eagerly retweeting, posting and talking about brand’s reactions to the event.
#LoveWins had the best components that any kind of social movement can hope for – an emotive cause, a dedicated hashtag, and unique, evolving, content.
Here is a look at some of the #LoveWins content from brands.
— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) June 26, 2015
— Gatorade (@Gatorade) June 26, 2015
— Levi's® (@LEVIS) June 26, 2015
— Visa (@Visa) June 26, 2015
— Target (@Target) June 26, 2015
The ALS Association
The Ice Bucket Challenge was one of the biggest viral phenomena of 2014-15, initiated by the ALS Association to raise awareness and money for motor neuron disease , or ALS. Health organisations and companies more generally can learn a lot from the huge success of this campaign. Not only did it succeed in terms of viral status, but it raised awareness, raised funds and generated conversation around the disease.
What are the reasons for its success?
Obviously it was for a good cause – but there are many good causes that don’t move people to act in any way. The Ice Bucket Challenge however, was designed to tap into social ties, and had the ability to leverage the power of social norming; when we see lots of other people doing something, we decide that it’s worth doing.
Also, it validated the participants; people who performed the challenge called on others to do so too, elevating their social standing as important and closely tied with the prior participant. Combined with the entertainment of watching people – especially journalists or celebrities – pour buckets of ice-cold water on their heads, and the fact challenges were quick to film and watch, gave it the perfect elements for a viral phenomenon.
The White House
The White House PR and marketing team have gone above and beyond over the past few years, taking to pop culture and social media like no other political office before. Recently, President Obama featured in an episode of Running Wild With Bear Grylls to discuss climate change and melting glaciers.
The Obamas and the White House have managed to stay relevant and appealing to the wider community through publicity and social media activity – especially through their video content – giving the community glimpses into their life and personalities, and promoting their political ideals.
Many of us have seen the viral video of Obama laughing joyfully at a baby dressed as the Pope for Halloween. My personal favourites are the Star Wars – The Force Awakens cross promotions, showing the characters visiting the White House.