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Tech Roundup: Five Emotions to Leverage for Viral Marketing


What does this burger kill? Who does this burger kill? What does this mean? That burger actually looks pretty good. Should I still eat burgers? These are some of the thoughts that might have gone through your head while looking at the above image.

A whole host of emotions can be invoked through something as simple as a picture paired with some words, which is the crux of viral marketing. Viral marketing plays off of the emotions of people and in turn can generate a lot of talk, exposure, and shares… all good things for a nonprofit.

Why play off of emotions though?  Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” As a nonprofit trying to get people talking about your cause, you should keep this in mind when crafting social media posts and marketing campaigns. 

The emotions you want to leverage are called “high arousal emotions”. These emotions drive people to action, fire them up, and motivate them to spread the word about what they are seeing (adapted from Jonah Berger’s book, Contagious. More details can be found in the slideshow produced by Media Cause.).

Awe: Put something out there that will knock your viewers back in their seats. An image paired with a startling statistic is a good way to do this. For example, Futures Without Violence had a successful Facebook post reporting 1 in 3 teens said they know someone who had been abused in a relationship.

Excitement: Share something that really touches someone’s passion to get them excited. A good food often does this. When Feeding America shared a post about partnering with Dunkin’ Donuts that pictured a breakfast sandwich, it nearly doubled their typical post shares.

Anger: As everyone knows, anger can consume you. When crafting a post, you can utilize this knowledge to come up with something that will enrage people. As anger sets in, people tend to become exceedingly passionate about the cause and the post can generate a lot of talk. Take NRDC’s post about a Pebble Mine affecting a salmon fishery for example.

Amusement: We all find ourselves from time to time (some more than others) pouring over puppy pictures on the internet. Something cute like a puppy or a baby is a surprisingly effective way to get the word out about your nonprofit’s cause. charity: water exemplified this in their  Facebook post using the “cutest dog in the world”.

Humor: Funny posts get shares. Just take a quick look at your newsfeed and see how many posts are humorous. With this knowledge, you may want to consider coming up with a funny post that will call attention to your cause. For an example, take a look at NRDC’s Fat Tuesday post.

Interested in learning more about technology trends and how they can be utilized in your organization? Join ConnectVA for Tech Trends: Must Do’s, Should Do’s, & Could Do’s on Tuesday, April 8, 2014. Located at University of Richmond – Downtown, this session will focus on what the landscape looks like in 2014 and include templates, guides, and hard resources for emerging trends and new startegies. Register now!

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