What Is an Emotional Hook?
You have two to three seconds to get your readers’ attention. The easiest way to do that is to create content with an emotional hook. The goal is to engage them, keep them reading to the end, and compel them to share the message with others. When this happen on a regular basis, your brand awareness expands.
There are a number of ways to engage people emotionally. It can be done through positive emotions generated with humor, fun, and curiosity – or with negative emotions addressing their fears, anxieties, or pain. One of the easiest tools to use is story-telling.
Stories that cause readers to feel something creates a powerful bond between the story-teller and his/her fan base. When it resonates deeply with readers, there is the possibility of viral sharing, which is the exactly what you want.
Content that hooks positive emotions is the most powerful. It tends to get more likes and shares. When you make people laugh, make them feel good, entertain them, or create a happy “aha” moment, they want to share it with others. Humor, amusement, joy, a sense of belonging, surprise, affection, and excitement are all very engaging emotions.
Curiosity is a great emotion to target. When content that makes people say, “Wow! I didn’t know that, I need to know more” – Or – “What is that all about?” I can almost guarantee that it will be shared.
Hope, Awe, and Inspiration
People often take their lead from things they read. The written word is incredibly powerful. When your postings help others to make big changes in their thinking and in the way they choose to live their lives, you are doing a very good thing.
When you give them hope and help them believe they can be better – they want to share those feelings with others. It is like a drop of water in the pond – it causes many ripples beyond where it initially falls.
Negativity (Anger, Fear, Controversy)
People seem to enjoy sharing something that gets their dander up (or pisses them off). When a posting hooks into anger, it gives the reader a chance to vent. Angry content is right up there with happy content when it comes to sharing.
Presenting controversial content can be interesting if you enjoy active discussions. It can also be useful if you want to start a debate about an important topic or get people to rally behind a cause. Just make sure you don’t make your audience angry with you.
Fear is also used a lot in content marketing. Triggering fear and playing to readers’ anxieties can move them to share your message with others. Just be careful. Postings that generate fear can easily go viral. You do not want to send trouble out into the world unnecessarily.
If you feel compelled to use fear, use it in the right way – never as a scare tactic, which can backfire on you it’s if seen as cheap and manipulative. It should never be about scaring your readers; it should be about giving them tools and tips for overcoming their fears – written with a positive spin.
Bottom line is that a case can be made for tapping into negative emotions, as well as positive ones. Negativity is not as powerful as positivity when it comes to sharing; but, sometimes a very sad or frightening piece of content will go viral, because it triggers strong emotions of empathy or concern.
Choosing Which Emotions to Ellicit
Choosing which emotions to target and how to go about targeting them depends on your audience. The more you know about your target market – their interests, concerns, feelings, and opinions, the easier it will be to engage them emotionally, connect with them on a deeper level, and build your brand.
Check your postings to ensure that you have created content with an emotional hook. If not, rewrite it.