Creating Emotional Engagement With Your Social Media Content

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The power of social media lies in its ability to cultivate emotional connections, creating a rapport between businesses and their consumers. As such, creating emotional engagement with your social media content isn’t just a fad; it’s a necessary shift in the way we think about marketing.

Let’s explore the art of stirring emotions and sharing insights to help you form authentic, relatable, and engaging social media content.

You know, the “Think Conversation” content strategy I’m always touting.

Why Does Emotional Engagement Matter?

The concept of emotional marketing isn’t just fluff; it’s backed by solid science. Studies show that emotions have a significant impact on our decision-making process.

A few pro-tips:

  1. Emotional engagement isn’t about vanity metrics.
  2. Stop getting stuck on the number of followers you have.
  3. Follower numbers don’t do much for your social media content, whereas engagement does.
  4. You must constantly be creating an emotional bond with your audience.

If you can do the four items above consistently, you’ll see an change with your social media content. When people feel a connection, they’re more likely to share your content, stay loyal, and recommend your brand to others.

People rely more on feelings than information when making brand decisions.

It’s all about how a product, service, or brand makes a person feel. If you seen me on stage you’ve heard me say this:

Buying is made with 95% emotion. Only after we purchase does logic kick in.”

I can’t take credit, though. It’s from Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman.

Additionally, there’s a lot more science we can look to when understanding why social media content needs to be more emotional.

The Science Of Emotions In Marketing

Emotions have a significant impact on the choices consumers make. That statement is solidly backed by extensive research.

Let’s dig deeper into some noteworthy examples that highlight the science of emotions in marketing.

Emotional Responses Influence Purchasing Decisions

First, our Harvard friend again.

Professor Gerald Zaltman states that 95% of our purchasing decisions are made subconsciously, driven primarily by emotional responses.

This means when we believe we’re making logical, data-driven decisions, we’re actually basing these decisions on emotional cues. I can’t be the only one who has made an Instagram purchase this way…

A well-known brand example of this is Apple’s marketing strategy, which focuses more on how their products make users feel rather than the technical specifications of the devices.

The ‘Somatic Marker’ Hypothesis

Renowned neuroscientist Antonio Damasio introduced the ‘Somatic Marker’ hypothesis.

This theory suggests that emotional responses, or ‘somatic markers,’ guide behavior and decision-making.

For instance, Coca Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign didn’t focus on the taste or price of their product. Instead, it stirred feelings of joy, friendship, and inclusivity by printing common names on Coke bottles, leading to a global emotional connection and a 2% increase in U.S. sales.

The Impact of Positive Emotions

Jonah Berger, a professor at the Wharton School, conducted a study that found content eliciting strong positive emotions was more likely to go viral.

He concluded that high-arousal emotions, such as awe, excitement, and amusement, significantly increase the likelihood of content being shared. His book, Contagious, is worth the read, too!

contatious book cover social media content

A prime example of using high-arousal emotions is the “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” campaign, which sparked a global conversation about female self-image, making it one of the most viral ads of all time.

Emotionally-Driven Ads Outperform Others

According to a study by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, emotionally-driven ads outperform those that rely solely on rational content by almost two to one.

They found that campaigns with purely emotional content performed nearly twice as well (31% vs. 16%) than those with only rational content.

A powerful instance of emotional advertising is Google’s “Loretta” ad, which used the story of an elderly man reminiscing about his late wife to promote Google Assistant. The ad tugged at viewers’ heartstrings and showcased the brand’s utility in a highly emotional context.

Don’t watch without tissues!

Convinced yet?!

By sharing these examples, it’s clear that emotions play a pivotal role in influencing consumer behavior.

The science behind emotional marketing can serve as a blueprint for creating social media content that truly resonates with your audience.

The Power Of Personas

Building effective emotional engagement starts with understanding your audience.

By creating detailed buyer personas, you identify their…

  • Needs
  • Preferences
  • Pain points
  • Values

Then, using that data, you can tailor your social media content accordingly. Focus on the values or other psychographics to beef up stale social media content.

Listen to Learn (And Take the LEAD!)

Social listening is a fantastic way to gather insights about your audience. This practice allows you to learn about your audience’s conversations, their opinions about your brand, and the issues they care about.

After that, you can more easily identify those in your audience who align with your brand’s core values.

If you need help getting started, check out our free co-branded social listening workbook with Sprout Social.

b-squared-media-sprout-social-social-listening-workbookCreating Emotional Engagement With Your Social Media Content

Tell a Story

Stories are inherently emotional and relatable. They have the power to spark emotions, create connections, and inspire action.

Sharing brand stories, customer success stories, or even behind-the-scenes stories can create a potent emotional connection.

Leverage User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) is a powerful tool for creating emotional engagement. UGC is perceived as more authentic and trustworthy, often leading to higher engagement rates.

And Ask For Opinions (And Share Your Own!)

It’s not easy to get people to share their values and opinions on social media. However, there are plenty of ways you can ease into asking for the opinions of your social media audience.

Take this example from Smartpak (a horse brand). At the time of this posting it was summer. And a hot one at that!

High temperatures were surely on horse-owners’ minds. So, not only is this post timely, it’s also asking for opinions from its audience to see just how much knowledge is there about riding a horse in high heat.

I love this example because…

  • It’s timely/topical
  • The style encourages ROC
  •  The content is also informational, or will lead to knowledge for its audience
  • There’s a CTA (call-to-action) leading users to their blog

Smartpak emotional social media content ask opinions
Use Emojis to Express Emotion

Emojis have become a universal language on social media. They’re a great way to add a touch of personality and emotion to your content, making your brand feel more human.

I know this may not be for everyone. But, I’ve found it really helps my own content stand out on LinkedIn.

Creating Value-Driven Social Media Content

Providing valuable content is a powerful way to build emotional engagement.

This could be educational content, entertaining content, or inspirational content. Whatever it is, make sure it provides real value to your audience.

And, don’t forget that it should tie to the emotions of your target audience.

Monitoring & Measuring Emotional Engagement

The Right Metrics

Monitor and measure emotional engagement to understand what works and what doesn’t.

Look beyond likes. Instead, focus on…

  • Comments or conversation
  • Shares
  • The sentiment of responses

Return on Conversation

I’ve talked a lot about the return on conversation (ROC) metric.

Below are some places we capture big wins through social media conversations:

  1. Answering acquisition or pre-purchase questions quickly
  2. Social care agents acting as a “knowledge concierge” for brands with complex FAQ (frequently asked questions)
  3. Using sentiment analysis to detect impending crises; analysis of conversations mentioning the brand’s product or services
  4. Combing through positive sentiment analysis for user-generated content

Additionally, as I pointed out throughout my recent book on this topic, Conversations That Connect, brands that use conversation to align their brand values with the values of their audiences outperform those who stick to content filled with clichés and facts.

Adapting and Improving

Keep an open mind and be ready to adapt your strategy based on your findings. Social media is ever-evolving, and what works today might not work tomorrow.

Also, keep in mind that getting your social media audience conditioned to converse with you is a marathon, not a sprint.

FAQs About Creating Emotional Engagement

I figured it’d be good to include the frequently asked questions (FAQs) I get from clients or my time on stage. Hopefully, they help you too!

1. How can I create emotional engagement with my social media content?

By understanding your audience, telling relatable stories, leveraging user-generated content, using emojis, and providing valuable content, you can foster emotional engagement on your social media channels.

Check out my free course called Creating Conversational Content That Connects.


2. Why is emotional engagement important in social media marketing?

Emotional engagement is crucial as it creates a deeper connection with your audience, encouraging brand loyalty, advocacy, and enhancing overall customer experience.

Humans literally make buying designs based on emotion versus logic.

3. What emotions are most effective in social media marketing?

All emotions can be powerful in social media marketing if used correctly.

However, positive emotions like joy, love, and surprise often get more shares and engagement.

4. How can I measure emotional engagement?

Measure emotional engagement by looking at comments, shares, and the sentiment of the responses you receive on your social media posts.

Start to note which kinds of post get you the most return on conversation (ROI).

5. Can small businesses also benefit from emotional engagement on social media?


Small businesses can significantly benefit from emotional engagement as it helps build a loyal community around their brand, enhancing customer loyalty and advocacy.

6. How frequently should I post emotionally engaging content on social media?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer. However, consistency is key. Strive for a balanced content mix that includes emotionally engaging content regularly.

My personal goal for my own content is to have at least 60% of it use opinions and feelings.

Emotion In Action

Creating emotional engagement with your social media content is not just about promoting your brand. It’s about connecting on a deeper level, understanding your audience’s needs and feelings, and providing them with content that resonates.

It’s a powerful way to build a loyal and engaged community around your brand, one that goes beyond mere transactions.

So, go ahead, touch those hearts, stir those emotions, and watch your social media content thrive!

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Brooke B. Sellas is an award-winning Customer Marketing Strategist and the CEO & Founder of B Squared Media. Her book, Conversations That Connect has been recognized nationally and is required reading for a Customer Experience class at NSU. Brooke's influence in digital marketing is not just about her accomplishments but also about her unwavering commitment to elevating the industry standard of digital customer experience and customer marketing.
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Category: Content Marketing,
Tags: 'Somatic Marker' Hypothesis, content marketing, content marketing strategy, emotional marketing, Return on Conversation, , , , ,
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