The Emotional Side to Viral Writing
Back in the old days, people were used to seeing a witty, relaxed tone mostly in newspapers and weekly editions, whereas informative books and articles were mostly dryly informative. With the Internet and the millions of pages of content, users have become more demanding from their readings; they want articles that are thoroughly informative and powerfully engaging at the same time. But is it really possible to insert emotion into any industry to make it more interesting?
Viral content travels at lightning speed to reach millions of users in a matter of days1. But what makes it so popular isn’t the information it conveys, but rather the way this information is presented. Viral content is full of emotional triggers, from the titles and short descriptions to the last sentence. These needn’t be positive, in fact, negative triggers have a bigger effect, but they must incite the reader to do something like comment, post, tweet, share, etc., for the benefit of the article’s author. If perfectly distributed within the body of the article, these emotional triggers can result in an influx of traffic for the website and quick improvement in its standing in SERPs.
Creating emotional triggers isn’t hard, but mastering them to your full advantage takes practice. Expressing a controversial opinion is by far the easiest, perhaps most widely used method. Note that controversial opinions try to generate high interest with the first few sentences, for example, having an article titled, “Going to the beach is actually extremely unhealthy.” This trigger uses surprise and confusion to engage the reader, and the main body that follows must successfully defend the initial idea. The make or break of this strategy is that controversial ideas are hard to defend, which makes it hard to write a believable and compelling piece.
Another emotion that is easily exploitable is compassion. People cannot help but feel sorry for those in need and try to aid the cause. Therefore, it is possible to tie your content with a well-respected charity or movement and support the cause. A good example is how SEOmoz supported the New Zealand Red Cross on the basis of how many people liked their posts2. A similar strategy will not only increase the visibility of your website, but will also improve your reputation.
Although lists may not be the obvious choice for emotional content, they present a lot of opportunities for viral writers. Lists can guide readers through complicated content and enable writers to focus on making the content entertaining and engaging. Furthermore, you can experiment with lists; for example, how not to do something or the biggest mistakes in something else, which both give valuable information and engage the reader. They further send the emotional message of authority and expertise so that users are more likely to trust the article. Be careful when using humor, however, because niches tend to have specific jokes that are not clear to everyone.
In good times and in bad times, people will always want to get the best value for their money, so simply writing about money saving techniques is a benefit in itself. Starting with a description of the feeling of having saved money is more powerful than simple numbers, and is sure to hook readers in. As with the other points, building a story is a good method to keep users reading till the end, and to describe your emotion throughout the whole process.
Whatever method you choose, always remember to finish off with a powerful conclusion. It doesn’t have to be long or thorough, but you must clearly state your call to action. Call us now and we can discuss how to help you with emotional writing.