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May 1, 2019

In previous articles, you learned about the types of emotions, what makes people react and the power of happiness.

As you may already know, there are a plethora of emotions that surround us every single day. Which ones are the best to use when it comes to marketing? Your answer is most probably aiming toward joy as I mentioned in a previous article. While this is not entirely wrong, you’ll be surprised to find out that happy and joyful marketing posts don’t always deliver as expected. Don’t people appreciate happiness and positive posts?

Yes, they do, but the social media environment is bombarded with these kinds of posts. In other words, everybody likes positive posts, but it will be hard for your marketing campaign to be noticed or stand out in the crowd when there are so many constructed in the same manner. Still, if you are creative enough and want to use joy as the emotion preponderant in your marketing campaign, it is worth knowing that human stories have the most significant impact.

To have a successful social media marketing campaign, you don’t need to focus on negative emotions. So, no matter what you do, stay away from using sadness. No one enjoys seeing sad content on social media, and most certainly you won’t manage to make anyone’s heart melt or soften with this particular emotion. Still, in spite of this, many use this emotion because it does manage to attract the attention of people and some will also react to this kind of marketing strategy.

Because it is as common as joy, sadness is currently exploited way too much, and it can be a risky choice as it may not produce the results you would like. Besides all these, there is always the danger of creating an unwanted association between your company and brand and the emotion of sorrow and sadness. Thus, when people see your brand logo, they might automatically feel negative emotions.

Happy Content

Based on many studies, we know that happy content is shared much faster than any other content. Positive messages about achievement, life situations or some good news will be shared more quickly, and they will also create more significant engagement. As I already mentioned, sharing positive posts on social media has a motivating effect on others to do the same. They don’t want to feel happier but to spread happiness to others.

Viral posts are emotional, compelling, accessible and easy to understand. And the company Fractal in 2013 shared a presentation about how content related to happiness was the biggest draw to encourage sharing among readers. And they found out the top five emotions that worked for a post better than others: Amusement, Interest, Surprise, Happiness, and Delight.

Here is one example of how happy content (in this case a joke) can influence people.


As you can see, that post reached more than 312,000 people on LinkedIn. I found out that others copied my post and shared it as their own, so the post could have reached 500,000 views, based on the number of likes that people who copied my post received. This is just one example of how you can get attention on LinkedIn. When you learn how to use emotions and growth hacking, you can get higher numbers than that.

And before you say, “But this funny post is not going to deliver anything, it’s just a joke,” you should know that not only did I get fantastic exposure, but I also got more than 80+ LinkedIn invitations, a few candidates and a few hundred LinkedIn visits on my profile (and if you read my book you will know how to turn those into new connections and possible candidates). And I also reached a few other goals I set before I posted it. It’s all about the action and reaction; if you are not doing anything, you will not get anything.

The Power of Anger

Speaking of the emotions you should use, you may find it hard to believe that anger is actually among the recommendations. Yes, you can successfully use anger in your social media marketing campaign as the emotion that triggers a high number of reactions. If you want to use this emotion, it is worth knowing that there are some risks associated with it. Just like in the case of sadness, you need to use anger with a good sense of measure so that people won’t end up associating this emotion with the image of your brand.

So, why is it so good to use anger? Although it is a negative emotion, anger can trigger the types of reactions you’re looking to get, and that is viral sharing of your post in the social media environment. If you are a LinkedIn user, you can remember the posts from Mr. Gelo about anger toward recruiters and the recruitment industry.

Those posts full of anger and rage became a trigger for the engagement of his audience. He posted a series of calculated posts that attracted people who’d had a bad experience with recruiters as candidates (we all have them) and also recruiters who tried to oppose him and explain that his post was just a lie. Both interactions helped to spread his post among the network of people who reacted. It was like a snowball effect.

The effects of anger in marketing were described in the study (Anger is More Influential Than Joy: Sentiment Correlation in Weibo); they found the correlation of anger among users is significantly higher than that of joy, which indicates that angry emotion could spread more quickly and broadly in the network.

Using anger in your posts etc. may be a real challenge, primarily if you base your marketing campaign on something that produces fear among the members of the audience, but if this is done well, your campaign could bring success. However, I don’t recommend using that emotion or using it very often.

The Power of Fear

Companies use fear to motivate people to take action, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a purchase, social media share, or some other activity. One prime example of using fear is the fear of missing out or FOMO. FOMO could be used not only for posts but also for presenting some events or various other things you would like to promote. Some companies build the fear to offer the solution afterward; pharmaceutical companies work in that way very often.

While FOMO is not an entirely new concept, the intensity and discussion of FOMO have significantly increased with the rise of technology—namely social media. A recent study done by JWT Intelligence Communications found that nearly 70% of adults admit to experiencing feelings of missing out (JWTIntelligence, 2012). (Source: Social Media and the Fear of Missing Out: Scale Development and Assessment)

FOMO is also widely used in growth hacking; you can create exclusive content or offer some unique product or service that is available only for a particular group of people on just one specific social site, like providing a specific product only for Facebook fans that are subscribers to your Facebook page. Or make your offer time-limited when people see that time is ticking they are forced to act, sing up, apply or place an order.


This emotion is connected with fear and research has shown how fear may provoke other negative emotions, like disgust. (Dabbs, J., & Leventhal, H. – 1966) It’s one emotion that I am not recommending using for your marketing campaign or posts.

The Power of Surprise

If you are looking for an emotion that doesn’t have any risks, you may want to consider surprise. If you are creative and innovative enough to surprise your audience with a post, you’ll have everything you need to enjoy a productive marketing campaign. According to studies, people love being surprised, in a pleasant manner, of course, so it is worth exploiting this option. And even if you think you don’t like surprises, your brain does, according to a study published in this week’s issue of the Journal of Neuroscience (Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 21, Issue 8).

So, even if you never thought that you could use surprise on social media networks, there are ways to pull this off. It’s also recommended to do so, as all the emotions that were previously mentioned are already overused so that surprise will give you a slight advantage over your competition. I used that emotion for a post after I published my second book Full Stack Recruiter and offered it for free to everybody who had the first book. People were surprised that I did that and they could get the second book for free. And this only one example of how you can use this emotion.

A surprise is possibly the best emotion that you can use to create a memorable, lasting relationship with your audience.

The Power of Sadness

Even if you don’t think that sadness could work, there are many examples on LinkedIn of people using sadness as one of the triggers to get likes, more shares, etc. Personal stories of when a person lost a job or was turned down by some company during an interview.

Or you can probably remember all those CEOs that struggled in the beginning, like Jack Ma who was rejected by KFC in the first round of the interview process; out of 24 people, 23 people passed and the one that didn’t was Jack Ma. He created one of the biggest companies in the world.

If you are planning to use sadness as an emotion, don’t forget to add at the end some hope, optimism or some positivity into it. Posts with sad emotion with a little bit of encouragement will not make people depressed but, in the end, they will feel hope or optimism.


In the next articles, you will learn how to combine two emotions, why it is essential to understand your audience.