Charity / Content insight

How to create shareable content: Psychology tips

Notes from The psychology behind shareable content, Online Marketing network Meetup, 2nd May 2013

See Natalie Nahai’s presentation here.

Key questions:

  • Why do you want people to share your content?
  • What’s in it for them?
  • Which medium is best?

1. Go Positive: make content funny/heartwarming/uplifiting 

  • For example, P&G ad about Olympic mums appeals as it’s universal (we all have mums), aspirational  nostalgic, about pride. Even if the Olympics don’t appeal to you, the ad does as you can relate to it if you’re a mum.

2. Surprise and enable:create stimulating/engaging content your audience finds interesting/surprising/practically useful.

  • You are  more likely to share content from people on the periphery of your groups as you will find that content novel, compared to things people in your (like-minded) groups share, due to social validation – want to feel good about ourselves and have people feel good about us.
  • Find key people within industries adjacent to you where there is slight crossover/points of similarity – it may increase sharing.
  • For example, Dove ads about having others describe you appeals as it’s about you, and you can use the knowledge.

3. Arouse them: induce positive (joy) or negative (anger/anxiety) arousal states

  • Contrast and motion arouse people.
  • Human stories induce more arousal.
  • For example, All State Insurance character called ‘Mayhem’ is a caricature that is funny while creating anxiety, and gives info on how to reduce the anxiety.

4. Avoid sob stories: find a way to tap into a stronger emotion 

  • Low arousal states (sadness) less likely to be shared… even if the content is interesting/surprising/useful.
  • Useful info for charities.

5. Position prominently: select what you want people to share (they have low attention spans) and give it pride of place

Elena Plaiter


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