November 11, 2021

Boost your social media engagement rates by tapping into these four emotions

Boost your social media engagement rates by tapping into these four emotions

Three decades ago, long before the Internet, we lived in a much different world.

Television and newspapers were everything, and the things we take for granted – such as creating and sharing content on our phones – seemed like a concept out a science fiction novel.

To engage consumers, marketers needed to reach people at home watching TV or reading newspapers or magazines.

Then the Internet and the smartphone happened 💥

And for the first time in human history, everyone and anyone had access to the same “pipe” to spread their message.

Now, this was good and bad.

We suddenly had tons of channels we could reach our consumers on. And we took full advantage. Brands drove social media engagement by any means necessary.

But, this led to consumers’ viewing and reading habits becoming fragmented.

So fragmented that most advertisers/marketers decided that the best way to reach today’s busy consumers was to catch their eye at every turn literally. In 2007, Yankelovich, a market research firm, estimated that the average city dweller saw 5,000 ads daily. It’s 2020, and it doesn’t seem that it has changed for the better.

marketing is noisy

Think about it: blank spaces have become endangered species – both online and offline depending on the city you live in.

Some marketers argue that the number of ads we come across daily is way lower than the 2007 study.  However, one thing is clear; we are exposed to an excessive amount of ads daily.

Intense competition and an ever-evolving consumer attention span have made marketers do whatever they can to coerce consumers to buy. We were so determined to grab the consumers’ attention that ads are now “bigger, louder, and more colorful.”

What has this meant for engagement rates on social?

The outcomes have been harsh. Consumers can’t recall most of the ads they have watched or seen by the end of the day. Nor do they bother engaging with the ads or content in any way.

That shouldn’t be surprising. First, the human brain can’t take in that much information. Secondly, our brain has learned to auto-block advertising. It doesn’t process anything that seems like advertising – to retain its sanity.

Even the most well-crafted brand messages have become a little more than noise in the clutter of ads that litter the consumer mindscape.

How do you create highly engaging content on social?

To bypass the human ad-blocking machine, marketers must consider a different approach. One way is to tap into some of the core human emotions. Such as:


Naturally, humans are encoded to seek happiness. And happiness ads are exactly what you expect them to be – content that makes people happy. This is why feel-good videos are some of the most popular content on the Internet.

It is well established that when consumers feel positive emotions such as happiness about a brand, they are more likely to spend their money on the brand and recommend it to their friends. Creating ads that tap into this emotion also makes the brand likable, relatable, and, most importantly…HUMAN.

This sort of content is an antithesis to all that traditional advertising stands for.

Brands mostly create ads about their product and why it is the best thing after sliced bread. These sorts of ads lead to one-sided conversations. And in this era of noise, consumers switch off almost instantly. The share a Coke campaign was a great example of tapping into our innate need for happiness.

The “Share a Coke” campaign.

Creating content that can make your audience light up is a great way to leave a lasting positive impression. One big concern is usually, “how do I quantify all these feelings.”

Well, brand sentiment is a measure of how a specific demographic or consumer group feels about your brand. Tools such as Sprinklr do a great job of tracking that for you.


Next on the list is awe. Some people call it “wonder.” It is a mysterious, can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-it emotion.

The best way to try describing this phenomenon is the feeling that makes you go, “how the hell did they do that.” But even if awe is hard to describe, you know it when you experience it. When we experience wonder, we often feel humbled or fortunate to be experiencing such deep emotions.

The “Jumping From Space” video by Red Bull

Studies posit that when we experience awe, it may improve our mood and our overall satisfaction with life at that moment. And this is the same, no matter if you are standing on top of the Grand Canyon or watching an awe-inspiring, goosebumps-inducing video of an aurora borealis. Now, imagine if you could make your consumer feel that way within the first 5 seconds of watching your video online?


While we are here, it is crucial to call out that empathy is not the same as sympathy. Sympathy is broad and impersonal. Empathy is more specific. It is the ability to put oneself in another’s shoes and experience and understand their feelings about an issue or an event.

When you empathize with an individual, you create an emotional connection. This is because you have a similar feeling to the person. However, this is the trickiest emotion to convey online. And if your audience at any point feels you are faking it, the backlash can be disastrous.

To create content layered with empathy, you need to have a deep and complete understanding of your user’s pain. That way, you can reach out to them in ways no other brand can. It doesn’t matter if you are a B2B or B2C business. In the end, you are dealing with humans 🤷🏾‍♂️


Curiosity is an important emotion to consider when creating content👌🏾

It is also probably the easiest to use. Most of the videos on the Internet have some curiosity hook in there to catch your attention.

Your consumers come across tons of videos when they scroll through their social feed. Your video needs to grab their attention within the first few seconds. If it doesn’t, they will move on quickly. One way to take advantage of this emotion is through creating curiosity gaps.

The curiosity gap arises when you turn your consumers’ attention towards a hole in their knowledge (knowledge about an issue, problem, or some essential factor in their world). These information gaps produce a feeling of deprivation, an averse psychological state (we don’t like feeling deprived 😠). Once consumers feel that way, they are more likely to lean in, click play, and take a look.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Why is social media engagement critical?

Social media engagement is an essential part of any brand’s social media strategy. Engagement isn’t just about how many comments, shares, or likes your posts get. It also creates brand awareness, positions your brand as a thought leader, and boosts your leads and referrals/sales.

What social media engagement metrics should a business track?

Not every social media engagement metric matters. However, the metrics you track should depend on the goal of your social media strategy. Depending on your business goal for social media, you should be monitoring the following:

  • Engagement: comments, likes, shares.
  • Brand awareness: impressions, reach.
  • Share of voice: sentiment, volume.
  • Customer service: response rate, time.
  • Return on investment: referrals, leads, conversions/sales.

Why is engaging content valuable?

Creating engaging content is the fastest way to build brand awareness and expand your reach online. Relevant content also quickly builds your brand authority in your niche, resulting in increased sales and referrals.

How to create engaging video content?

Video content has become a mainstay in any social media strategy that wants to drive engagement. To create relevant video content, one needs to:

  • Incorporate storytelling.
  • Use eye-catching visuals.
  • Use the curiosity gap to capture the audience’s curiosity.

How to make boring content engaging?

If your industry is a highly technical one, it can seem impossible to create content that isn’t boring. However, you can make your “boring’ content engaging using the following tips:

  • Be human and write as you talk.
  • Ask the right questions.
  • Turn data into relevant stories.
  • Write dialogues rather than descriptions and feelings rather than facts.

Time to start creating

Social media is key to the growth of most brands – B2C or B2B. So content creation isn’t something you should treat lightly. Pick one emotion that aligns with your brand positioning, and start creating.

That way, you not only bypass the human ad-blockers, but you stand out from the noise.


  • Hi, I'm Dozie Anyaegbunam. Welcome to my online home. I Write, host a Writers' Community called Not Enough Writers, and run a freelance content strategy outfit called Efikó.