Let’s face it, smart marketers know that engagement is a true force to be reckoned with. We all track social actions, social conversations, blog shares, etc. Why? Because it proves that we are hitting the mark with our audience.

Engagement matters. Whether it’s the first touch point in a quick conversion process or a series of thoughtful shares while wooing a huge enterprise account.

But engagement is a two sided coin. One wrong flip, and that engagement becomes a UGC campaign of vitriol. So, what goes wrong? The most likely to incite negativity is hitting the wrong emotional chord. Yet, hit the right emotional chord, and your content will perform 2x better than rational content alone.  Knowing how to walk that line takes some social awareness.

We’re all familiar with brands that miscalculate and earn the scorn of consumers and competitors alike. When I examine their failure, it’s often a matter of missing the mark by a hair. A car company may get away with objectifying women, but a web service doing the same is seen as misogynistic. Or why does Mountaindew’s dancing “puppymonkeybaby” disturb while other hybrid animals proliferate via GIF and and memes? I think it’s all about knowing what emotions your audience will connect with. (And remembering that humor is highly subjective.)


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Buzz Sumo partnered with Ok Dork to study what emotion drives effective engagement. I don’t think any of you are surprised to see heavy hitters like awe and laughter moving the needle.


But a more subtle duo of empathy and anger was perfect for Colgate’s water conservation Superbowl ad. Emotional story trumps data points almost every time. Even with content marketing. Let’s take the common case study situation. Case study #1 features Customer Y factually laying out all the benefits experienced by using Brand X. In contrast, Customer Y shares the same data through a heroic video recounting the story of surmounting obstacles and winning the day. And your product was there to help every step of the way. Which video wins the attention battle? You guessed it, the story.

Humans love story and we connect through emotion. Combine fact, emotion and story …and we can make “magic happen.”