Using Social Media to Appeal to Your Audience’s Emotions
by Ryan Mulroy
In today’s digital world brands compete with thousands of online influences to stay relevant. It's no longer enough to just have an online presence. A brand must stand out to be remembered.
Building a memorable brand requires creating content that connects to your audience’s core values and emotions. If you employ the right persuasive tools on social media, you can keep your platform or product top-of-mind.
What is emotional branding?
Emotional branding is one of the best tools you can use to engage with your audience.
Have you ever met someone who made an instant impression on you? Maybe they performed an admirable act of kindness or told a joke that had you rolling on the floor laughing. Whether filed under “funny” or “nice,” you made room for that person in your brain.
Emotional branding is essentially the same thing. Branded content promotes an emotion in a consumer that “appeals to their state, ego, needs, and aspirations.” The consumer remembers content when it speaks to them.
When posting on social media, choose one emotion you want to be remembered for, and build content around it. If you don’t know where to start, use the persuasive techniques of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos, which were coined by the philosopher Aristotle – you may have heard of him.
First, establish credibility, or ethos, by posting positive reviews from consumers, republishing posts from industry professionals, or creating your own educational content. This will appeal to your audience’s sense of trust.
The social media marketing company Later provides information that’s easily accessible and native to Instagram’s platform. The audience trusts Later’s information and implements it themselves. Replies such as “🔥🔥” and “👏🏼” prove that people love this informative content and will remember Later as a thought leader in the field of social media marketing. Click here to see more of their Instagram content.
Next, appeal to empathy, or pathos, by striking a chord in the hearts of your followers. Make your platform a space where people can rally around certain ideas. Post a call to action that people won’t want to ignore. Raise awareness for causes you care about.
The account, @amypoehlersmartgirls repurposes a post from a news account, @themeteor, to take a position on a troubling issue and to evoke a memorable emotion such as sadness, anger, or empathy. By aligning their platform with an account like The Meteor, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls further identifies themselves as a supportive, feminist community.
It’s important to note that using tools like Pathos can appear insincere if you just republish or post content because it’s something your audience cares about. You must care about a cause, and provide actionable ways for your audience to get involved—link to fundraisers or events, or start your own. Otherwise, it’s unethical, and people can sense when your account is faking their involvement or feelings towards something.
Finally, make a connection between emotions and logic, or logos, by citing data, facts, or statistics. Post a table or graph so your audience can visualize your data. Make a factual comparison between you and a competitor.
The account, @data4blacklives, has started a movement based on truthful data. Their entire platform is dedicated to using logic as a tool for social change. Their posts spark meaningful conversations and deliver insights by using graphs like the one above.
If you struggle to apply ethos, pathos, or logos for content creation, try this simple exercise to generate even more ideas that are unique to you or your brand:
Write a list of your core values. Examples include accessibility, openness, education, energy, and creativity.
Write down “feeling” words that are associated with each value. There’s no wrong answer. For example, education can make you feel accomplished, intelligent, or self-fulfilled. Creativity can make you feel happy, passionate, or energized.
Once you have identified a feeling, create a post about the ways you can evoke that feeling in your audience. For example, if I ran an account promoting an elite group of college counselors, I would post about how our counselors can make you or your child feel fulfilled in their choice of school.
Feel free to spice it up, but whichever way you produce ideas, remember to be as authentic and human as possible.
To wrap it all up…
When building a memorable online presence, no formula promises instant results. However, if you keep emotions at the forefront of your social media efforts, your content should cut through the noise and reach an audience that resonates with you or your brand.
In a world where trends rule, be unique. Try some of the tips above, and let us know if they work for you. We love to hear how you tailor our advice to your platform.