Influence of positive emotions on the success of viral message

A study published in the Harvard Business Review states that there is strong link between positive emotions triggered by viral content and the success of a viral message. The following ten emotions were identified as having a positive impact on the success of viral messages:

  • Amusement
  • Interest
  • Shock or surprise
  • Happiness
  • Delight
  • Pleasure
  • Affection
  • Excitement

The key to exploit the potential of emotion for enhancing the success prospects of viral marketing is to know which message will create such an emotion in the target audience and how it can be ideally linked with the brand. The Oxford College Marketing Blog suggests that considering the following questions helps in the creation of an emotion-driven campaign.

  • Are there any current issues in the media that directly impact your target audience?
  • Are there any ongoing issues that impact your target audience?
  • What are the feel good angles that can be derived from these potentially negative issues?
  • What are the links that can be made between your business and the issues?

Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches, 2013

A great example of emotional viral marketing practice is beauty brand Dove’s ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ campaign in 2013. Dove did not advertise a particular product in this campaign but gave their opinion in the debate of perceived beauty. A group of women was asked by Dove to meet with a sketch artist who would draw a portrait of the women based on their own description. Then the sketch artist would draw another portrait of the same person but his based on the description of a stranger. As a result, the powerful message about the own negative self-perception about the physical image was created by comparing both images.

The key thing to remember here is that emotion is the driving force behind the viral success of this and many other marketing campaigns. If emotion is used to create meaningful content, then the audience will share this message. Emotional viral content will strengthen your brand’s reputation among your target communities and promote awareness of your brand to new and wider audiences.


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