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Emotional Triggers and Your Social Media Marketing

Amanda Clark

It’s easy to get so caught up in the technicalities of social media marketing — the strategies, the data, the analytics — that we lose sight of one important fact.

At the end of the day, this is a very human endeavor. With your social media marketing, you’re trying to reach actual human readers and to provoke actual human emotions. If you fail to do so — if you can’t pull at the right heartstrings or elicit the desired response — then don’t be surprised when your posts fail to get any shares, likes or comments at all.

The question is, what kinds of emotions should you be playing to with your social media posts? That’s going to be somewhat contingent on what kind of product or service you’re promoting, but there are a few basic emotional triggers that are always worth pursuing and exploiting. 


People like to know things — and when teased with a hint of information, they’re often going to become focused on learning more. One of the best ways to generate social media success is to provoke curiosity. Ask pointed or mysterious questions. Tease the reader with a sentence-long summary of your blog post, prompting them to click the link to read more. If you’re really bold, you might even playfully discourage readers from checking out your post — because what could be more enticing, more arousing to human curiosity, than a marketer telling them to look the other way?


Sometimes social networks — in particular Facebook — get knocked for being places where people only talk about the good things in their lives, and it’s certainly true that many social media users are attracted toward positivity. There have been countless studies showing that the most-shared social media posts are quotes, videos, or images that are in some way motivational or uplifting. Giving people something positive to share is actually even more effective than providing them with something humorous.


It has been said that “new” is the most powerful idea in the history of advertising, and it’s certainly true that newness plays an important role in social media. The new tends to tickle people, capturing their interest in a powerful way, so every time you change your profile picture or background photos, you’re harnessing that unique power.


The human brain tends to shun things that are messy or sprawling, while being attracted toward cleanliness and simplicity. That’s what makes lists so effective. A simple, intuitive list conveys immediate value in a way that appeals to your readers’ desire for something clean and well-organized.


Finally, remember that passivity isn’t something that sparks a great deal of interest in the human brain. Rather, it is action that provokes a strong emotional reaction, making action words essential for any social media post. Words like "discover" and "explore" work much better than simply saying, Read our blog, precisely because they seem to pack more action.

The bottom line is that strategy is important for social media — obviously it is — but if your strategy isn’t rooted in human emotional responses, it may not be enough!

Author bio:

Amanda E. Clark is CEO and Editor in Chief at Grammar Chic, Inc. You can follow her company on Twitter. Amanda’s last article for SEMrush was "Social Media for Business: Dealing with a Web Awash in Sex, Food, Selfies and Cats."

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Amanda E. Clark is CEO and Editor-in-Chief at Grammar Chic, Inc. You can follow her company on Twitter.
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