Emotionally Appealing Content: Topics that Take Readers for a Ride

Last week, I touched on the concept of subconscious social sharing and looked at why people repost online content. I narrowed it down to two main reasons why people share content:

  1. The content is valuable
  2. The content is emotionally appealing

But because I was so broad about an insanely deep topic, I’m going to continue to elaborate on the element most likely to engage users – cracking them up, pissing them off, scaring the crap out of them, and every exaggerated emotion in between.

This series is about emotions. Emotions that make readers red in the face. Emotions that push readers to the point of loss of emotional control. Emotions that push the reader right toward that social share button.

The Roller Coaster Wheel of Emotions

 By now you have seen Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions once or twice on CopyPressed. I mentioned it in my post, and both Lizzie Seedhouse and Jaime Spector are using the Wheel of Emotion as the base of their series about provoking content and emotional appeals of social sites.

If you haven’t noticed by now, this wheel is pretty important to us content creators, and there are a lot of ways to use this seemingly simple information to develop ideas, create content, and insight action in readers.

In this series, I’m going to tear apart Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions and put it back together as a roller coaster. I’ll show you how to take any topic and transform it into an emotionally-driven ride that readers will feel, and probably not expect.

Emotional Appeal Isn’t Always Obvious

Some topics are associated with an obvious emotional appeal. Sure if you are writing about universal health care – you can probably make some people pretty angry. If you are creating content about sexy beaches – you can pretty easily make some people happy. If you are reporting on flesh-eating bacteria– you can probably scare someone out of their mind.

Each of those topics is attached to an obvious emotion. You don’t need to spin sexy beaches to make it exciting, and all you have to do is say “flesh-eating bacteria” to freak someone out. 

It’s pretty easy to notice and write about the emotional appeal of those topics. But what about topics that are not naturally emotionally exciting? How can you make an audience excited about bankruptcy, database management or mortgage refinancing?

That takes some skill. (But we’ll get back to that.)

The Best Emotional Appeal Isn’t Always Obvious

So we already know it’s pretty easy to make people mad about national health care. But sometimes things that are easy, are often a problem.

It’s likely that if you think it’s easy to write about a topic, about a hundred other people will also think it’s easy to write about the same topic from the same perspective. Sexy beaches are fun, and that’s why there are hundreds of articles about them.

One of the strategies of writing quality content is finding a not-so-obvious emotional appeal for a topic. If you can take a topic, ignore the obvious emotional appeal, and find another way to connect the topic to an equally strong emotion – you are on your way to creating something new and special that readers want.

So how can you take sexy beaches and make it scary? How can you make flesh-eating bacteria look amazing? And how can you make national health care incite laughter?

That also takes some skill.

Are You Ready for the Ride?

If this article has freaked you out. If you are now worried that you won’t be able to find an emotionally exciting way to talk about home loans. If you are now worried that all of your good ideas about scary flesh-eating bacteria are actually pretty bland. Good. I’ve made you at least a little conscious of your content’s shortcomings and effectively hit on your apprehension emotion (that may also be attributed to all of the talk about flesh-eating bacteria).

But don’t fret too much. In this Emotionally Appealing Content series, I’ll take topics with obvious emotional appeal and topics with no emotional appeal and show you how to build them into a roller coaster of emotion that takes readers for an unusually exciting ride.