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Emotions in Content: How to Use Them and Why They Matter

Did you know that using emotions in your content can significantly increase its chances of becoming viral, as well as its chances of becoming significantly more valuable to marketers, companies, and content consumers alike?

One study conducted by professors at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania found that content inspiring awe, surprise, or humor is much more likely to be shared. Another seminal study conducted by The New York Times revealed that people share content with one another based strictly on their relationships with others and their emotions.

Continue reading to learn more about how and why you should include emotions in the content you write.

How to Use Emotions in Content

Create Audience Personas

Long before you include any emotional context in your content, you must fully understand your audience, who they are, and what they care about the most. Otherwise, you could be including the wrong emotional context in your content and it will fall flat or not accomplish much.

Build comprehensive audience personas that detail your target audience’s pain points, desires, frustrations, etc., to understand what emotional context you should include in your content.

Rely on Grammar

Believe it or not, one of the most effective ways to convey emotions in your content is by using proper grammar. While it may not sound that exciting at first, it’s fundamental and simply can’t be ignored.

Here are some ways you can use grammar to connect with your audience.

  • Select the appropriate mood (i.e., indicative, subjunctive, or imperative)
  • Utilize the active voice or passive voice where it’s most fitting
  • Insert interjections like “aha,” “oops,” “ouch,” etc.
  • Understand alternatives in your diction (word selection) and syntax (arrangement and placement of words and phrases)
  • Use the right punctuation in the right places

Why Emotions in Content Matter

Emotions Increase Sales and Conversions

Whether you write content for a well-established content writing agency or work with clients on a one-on-one basis, you’ll want to include emotions in your content so that it generates sales and conversions.

Neil Patel highlights many case studies and extensive research in his post on the role emotions play in content marketing. The bottom line is that emotions inspire readers and consumers to act, whether they’re buying something, sharing something, signing up for something, or doing something else.

We all want to believe that we click on buttons, buy things, donate money, or sign up for email lists because of our amazing logical reasoning skills, but extensive psychological and neurological research and case study after case study prove that we don’t. We first feel the desire to do something and then we use our logical reasoning skills to justify our initial and subconscious emotional response.

Furthermore, according to the same information highlighted in Patel’s post mentioned above, consumers actually need and want content with emotional context. It helps them make purchasing decisions and further builds their trust in an organization or company.

Emotions Promote More Shares and Engagements

According to research highlighted by Buffer, content sharing and engagement is based solely on emotion. And the pieces of content that are shared and engaged with the most evoke the most emotion.

Here are the main reasons consumers share or engage with a piece of content:

  • To elicit laughter or inspiration in others
  • To express themselves and how they’re feeling
  • To become better connected to others and solidify relationships
  • To feel more emotionally connected to things going on in the world
  • To support a cause or issue they care about

Emotions Keep Content Human

When writing content in a world of search engines and automated bots, it becomes easier for all types of content creators to create content that goes viral, as long as they know the “right SEO formula.” But such content is also at risk of becoming a lot less human-like if they aren’t careful.

We’ve all read those posts that sound overly robotic and are, well… boring. And it’s probably because they’re just stuffed full of keywords, optimized headers, and so on.

While you should certainly follow SEO tactics and formulas, don’t forget that you’re a human writing content for other humans. And humans are emotionally driven creatures, even if they abhor admitting it.

As a freelance writer, always remember how and why you should include emotions in your content each time you write. And never stop leaning on writing tips like the one detailed above, so your content always remains valuable to everyone who encounters it.

Kelly C.

Kelly C. has a master's in English and has been writing for over a decade for Fortune 500 companies, startups, nonprofits, and reputable publications. She is a research nerd and loves discovering new organizations and technology that makes others' lives better or easier. She has a business savvy not common in most writers and weaves it into everything she writes. In her spare time, she reads a lot, works as a literacy tutor, and hikes in the Rockies with her husband and hound dogs named Daisy and Lilly.

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