Social Emotion

Emotion – quite probably the most powerful tool for change in human beings. If you can make a person feel, you can make a person do. And today, almost every persons experiences and the emotions attached to those experiences are played out on social media. Whether that’s the joy of becoming an auntie, anger at a delayed journey, frustration at an organisation or sadness of a death, we’re documenting it for our followers and friends to be kept up to date in the online diary of our lives.

Our willingness and quite frankly, our need, to share our milestones and feelings with the rest of the world as opposed to our nearest and dearest is creating unparalleled opportunities and challenges for brands. It is even affecting the news agenda. Compare the public reaction to the MH370 flight to that of 9/11 – Malaysian Prime Minister Mohd Najib Tun Razak’s tweet confirming the planes crash into the ocean was retweeted 27,000 times within the hour. Stories such as the death of Osama Bin Laden and the Hudson River plane crash were broken on Twitter before the national news outlets.

An interesting article in Stylist this week described this increased display of emotion online and the ripple effect it has throughout followers and friends. The most successful campaigns are those that evoke emotion which can be shared, discussed, related to. Take the #100happydays campaign for example – studies have shown that positive emotions are more likely to go viral online than negative ones. The most successful videos and images are the ones that give us goosebumps of happiness, the tiger being reunited with his owner, the dog who beat cancer or the people being welcomed at airports by a gospel choir and a dancing troop.

100happydaysYou only have to look at the launch of ‘International Happiness Day’ this year to realise that happiness is trending. The roaring success of upworthy.com, a site which draws happy, uplifting and inspirational content from all over the world only confirms this belief. If brands can inject happiness into the day to day lives of people around the world, the mundane and stressful commutes, the long hours at the office, the bill-paying and children ferrying, then they they will be a seizing an unparalleled opportunity to create change and brand loyalty.

It’s now believed we look at our phones on average nine times an hour. I refer back to my original point – whether it’s deemed ‘healthy’ or not, people all over the world are turning to their online communities to convey their emotions and seek recognition and support. There’s never been more opportunity for brands to become part of this online community that there followers turn to for  an emotional lift. Furthermore, there’s never been more opportunity to reach our audiences on a personal level. Generic happiness is just the start. Soon, brands will be utilising the online ocean of data they have available on their consumers and customers to create tailored happiness that can be delivered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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