Arouse emotion
That's my girl!

Now this is a big factor. Huge. Because in order for you to get anyone to take any kind of action, you generally need to push their emotional buttons.

Think about it:

What do all great novels have in common? That’s right, they create an emotional response in people. This is why people eagerly finish the books, they’re sad when they’re done with it, and they discuss the book with others. Generally, this happens when they’ve connected emotionally with a character.

Copywriters and sales people know their income depends on evoking emotion. That’s because many people make the buying decision based on emotion and then justify their purchase with logic. Read just about any sales letter and you’ll see the copywriter pushing the emotional buttons like crazy.

[tweetthis url=””]If you’re looking to create a successful viral campaign, then your content needs to make your viewers feel something.[/tweetthis]

You need to evoke a strong emotional response.

Now, if you take a look around–such as content like the nightly news–you might be persuaded into thinking that you need to evoke a negative emotion.

That is not true. While certain strong negative emotions (like disgust) can and do go viral, researchers have discovered that the biggest viral pieces tend to evoke positive emotions. These emotions include:

  • Surprise
  • Amusement
  • Delight
  • Hope
  • Excitement
  • Joy
  • Interest

Think about some of the big viral pieces you’ve seen, and I think you’ll agree that you need to hit the positive emotional buttons. For example:

  • All those funny cat videos online? Amusement, joy, delight.
  • That inspirational quote? Maybe it created hope, joy, and excitement.
  • That prank video? Surprise and amusement.

Now here’s something to consider:

Find a way to connect an old idea to a new emotion. You can do this by finding an unexplored angle.

This does two things. First, you created something novel. And as you already know, your viewer’s brain is going to lap this up like a kitten drinking milk.

Secondly, an unexpected tie creates surprise and interest, both of which are strong emotions. Now you’re well on your way to creating viral content.

Let me give you an example:

Often, we see videos online about how humans have abused animals. Some of these videos go viral because people are outraged and disgusted (those are negative emotions, but they are strong emotions). Sometimes the videos offer hope, which helps them go viral.

So picture this:

Recently I ran into a video showing a man on a pier trying to capture a pelican by the foot.  I was already starting to feel outraged by this man who was harassing a defenseless creature. I watched in horror as he made the catch – and then his friend helped him hold the bird still.

What happened next surprised me.

These two guys carefully and gently removed fishing lines and hooks from the bird’s mouth. Then they released the bird to the applause of the bystanders on the pier.

My heart swelled. I felt joy. I felt hopeful. And yeah, you can bet I was thoroughly surprised when this video turned out to be so heartwarming, despite looking like it was going to be about a man teasing wildlife.

You know what I did next? I hit the share button.

So, you can see how this example hits several major emotional buttons. One of the strongest is when you can surprise people – make them think the video is going to be about one thing, and turn it into something else. This is particularly effective if people think the video is going to be about something bad (such as animal abuse) and it turns out to be just the opposite.

TIP: Your viral content will backfire if you give the impression that a video is about something good, and then it turns out to be about something bad. People will feel disgusted – at YOU. They’ll feel betrayed. So if you use this psychological trick, be sure to use it the right way (by turning a seemingly bad situation into a good one).



viral content

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