I was on my break at office, and the first thing I did was to open my Facebook app to see what was happening.

I didn’t linger there for too long, that was depressing. News about the world has generally taken on a darker tone, and right now I didn’t want that.

I scrolled further down and saw some inspirational quotes posted by some of my friends; I quickly shared those on my timeline. I came across a great joke, which I also immediately posted on my timeline. Uh-oh, my fifteen minutes are up, time to get back to work.

Does that routine sound familiar to you? I’m sure it does. That simple routine contains a wealth of information about how the average person spends his/her time on Facebook, and that is key to developing a successful social media marketing plan for your brand.

Building a social media strategy that works is essential for your brand, in today’s world. Facebook alone is about to cross the 2 billion user mark. Twitter is used by 255 million active users on a monthly basis. Snapchat has shown six billion views on a daily basis. Moreover, the average person spends a whopping 2 hours on social media every day.

Finally, as Alex Chris mentions in his blog, social media is “the new influencer”. That is the kind of reach that your brand cannot afford to ignore anymore.

Do you want your content to gain traction? Integrate social media with your digital marketing efforts.

Kim Garst has written a wonderful blog on this subject. It is important to note that having a social media strategy should not be treated as simply adding on something to your marketing efforts. Many businesses make the mistake of using their social media promotions in isolation to their overall digital marketing campaigns. There is no doubt about the benefits of social media, however if your target market sees a visible disconnect between your social media promotions and digital marketing efforts, then you will not be able to reap the full benefits of a social media presence.

Social media marketing yields exponential benefits when integrated with your overall digital marketing strategy. So what kind of a social media strategy should you go for? A study at Cornell University gives an important clue.

  • This study was conducted on 500,000 users, in which the content on their newsfeeds was actively altered.
  • The study revealed that posts of a positive nature were shared a lot with a corresponding decrease in the number of negative posts.

The converse of the situation was also true. So the key lies in listening to your customers (and competitors), as Jay Baer says in his blog. So we can say that one of the best strategies for social media marketing is distributing content that has a strong emotional hook.

Content that is capable of emotionally hooking your target audience stands a greater chance of triggering sharing behavior.

But before that, you need to define your social content strategy by having a clear vision of what you wish to achieve through the distribution of your content. This can only be achieved if your company has a clear vision and a brand identity. The identity of your brand directly shapes the social media content that you will be distributing.

Nike is an excellent example in this regard. Sports are social activities and therefore it is not surprising that Nike has developed a huge following on social media.

They have 14 million followers on Instagram, 22 million followers on Facebook and 4.78 million followers on Twitter (for @Nike alone). It is worth noting that Nike has a multitude of Twitter accounts, each catering to the different product lines that they have.

This is an example of how they engage their audience on their @nikefootball account.

Nike pursues a similar strategy on its Nike Running Twitter account where they advise on training schedules and provide motivation to runners who post on the account.

Here’s a blog by Jeff Bullas that details an excellent outline for what your social media template should be.

So how can you engage your target audience emotionally?

  1. Inspirational posts

Inspirational posts on social media are in vogue these days. Everybody loves to share posts about the key to happiness and a healthy way of living. A good example of a social media strategy that revolved around inspiration is that of Dove. It is an excellent example of a company that seeks to make women feel truly good about themselves. It’s a great strategy that resonates with people all the more because of the products that the company sells. Here’s an example.

  1. Happiness

Happiness sells. Any post that gives positive advice or is of a positive nature, is shared repeatedly. However, happiness and joy are emotions that have been targeted innumerable times by social media marketers, as a result of which there is an overabundance of such posts.

Happiness can serve as an excellent impetus for sharing behavior, but it has two problems. It is a difficult emotion to evoke and undoubtedly highly sought after in social media marketing. Its overabundance makes it highly difficult for brands to differentiate themselves. However, there are specific shades of happiness that can be successfully targeted.

Humor and inspiration engender happiness and are far more successful in provoking sharing behavior. There are countless examples of companies that have successfully created a thriving social media presence by distributing such posts. Inspiration and humor have been explained in this article along with relevant examples.

  1. Sadness

Evoking sadness has been chased very frequently in marketing. It is a powerful emotion and highly contagious, which is the reason why social media marketers try to exploit it in its various shades. However this has been done so much that audiences have become almost entirely desensitized to it.However if the emotion of sadness is targeted along with the emotion of anger may be successful.

If the post by a company is about an issue that provokes sadness, coupled with a call to action it could show that your brand is doing something about the issue, and hence can be very successful. That’s why petition posts gain a lot of traction.

  1. Wittiness

People love a smart advertisement or a post that engages on an intellectual level. Taco Bell’s posts are a good example of this. Smart, witty and beautifully simple, they invariably hit home and hence create an impetus for sharing behavior.

Wittiness also engenders happiness and laughter, which is why it can be extremely successful in creating an impetus for sharing behavior.

Here’s a post from their Facebook page.

  1. Humor

Humor is a great way to engage your audience. It is a very specific kind of happiness that people appreciate. Humorous posts attract people that may not even fall in the target market of your brand.

But jokes and humorous posts are almost invariably shared. An excellent example of a company that has built a strategy revolving around humor and silliness is Denny’s.

Their Twitter feed is a great example of this. Their posts range from being laugh-out-loud funny to being completely unexpected, as a result of which they are extensively shared.

Blogs can be of great help in writing emotionally engaging content, and they are the go-to digital marketing option for local businesses, especially. They are informal and allow you to write about a wider range of topics. That range lends flexibility and gives you room for choosing topics that are bound to have an emotional hook. Building your brand around your blog name is a great way of engaging your audience emotionally.

A good example of such a company is Citrix. They have a blog called Workshifting, which revolves around ideas for people who work on the move. The company’s name is hard to find on the website, and the blog is extremely popular.

Now, It’s Your Turn

It is a well-observed fact that engaging your audience emotionally is a successful strategy for improving customer engagement.All the aforementioned points provide evidence that support this conclusion. This is because ultimately human beings are emotional creatures.

Companies can benefit from this strategy, irrespective of their size. And it is worth noting that this is a strategy that can work very well for non-profits as well. Developing a social media strategy that revolves around generating emotionally charged content can be an extremely cost effective way of reaching potential donors.That’s why, as responsible companies, it is best to engage your audience with the emotional appeal of happiness. Happiness spreads and if your posts can perpetuate the feeling, then the engagement that your social media presence will generate will be of a more permanent nature.

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