Social Marketing: Emotional Contagion and Heavy Data

emotional contagion

Marketing based on emotion

The idea of marketing based on emotion is as old as propaganda itself – a Harley Davidson equals Freedom, Michelin Tires ensure your child’s safety and Clairol lets you wash that grey right out of your hair. But how do we tap into emotional, permission-based marketing through social sharing? More importantly, what kind of emotion are we pushing into the world?

Michelin Tires advertisement

Emotional Contagion

A new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has revealed statistics around emotional states transferred through social networks. By positively or negatively manipulating the Newsfeed product on Facebook, researchers were able to measure the emotional output of users and correlate it with how their Newsfeed had been modified. Aside from another example of Facebook’s questionable ethics, what can we learn from this?

Heavy Data

Comparing our brains to computers is a clunky, old parallel that only seems to work when creating computers more like us, which is great for getting what we want out of them. What computers cannot do is give emotional weight to information. An algorithm and database can determine whether we are happy or sad but the computer does not actually care. The job of every brand manager, online marketer and business owner, then, is to consistently curate the emotion of their brand and encourage the sharing of that emotion. Engagement is where the rubber meets the road. The new imperative goes beyond clear messaging and great brand experiences. There is a responsibility to care for the emotional well-being of your audience and communities.

A Great Example

An epic PSA by Evolve combines levity and the emotional punch of community, family, sex & humiliation. Then it invites us to consider the devastating effect of an unlocked gun thrown into the mix. The easy route may have been to simply hammer us with fear, anger, remorse and chilling statistics around gun deaths. Instead we are engaged intelligently and positively for a much more successful awareness campaign. As of this writing, four days after the video was uploaded to Youtube, this PSA has 2,273,377 views, 2 years of time watched, drove 133 subscriptions to the channel and shared 4,564 times.

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