Provoking Content: Terror & Rage

This week’s provoking content emotions are Terror and Rage.

 So be forewarned, you might experience anger and/or fear whilst reading this post.

Terror

A state of intense fear.

11.5 million People in the US suffer from some sort of phobia ranging from Arachnophobia (fear of spiders) to Xenophobia (a fear of foreigners – really?!).  From the outside looking in, the spectrum of fear runs from the perfectly rational to the totally irrational. Most of us can understand the rationale behind Aichmophobia (fear of needles); however we probably all have a tough time wrapping our heads around Anthrophobia (the fear of flowers). And it’s easy for us to make fun of say, “oh watch out for begonia, he’s an evil SOB”.

However when you are the one suffering from the phobia of flowers, it all seems quite reasonable as it probably stems from a significant event in their life, or perhaps they just have a severe allergy to pollen that could kill them or something; who really knows?

What scares you? Nuclear war, large things, small things, registered mail?

Beyond making fun of fears (which by the way hits a completely different emotion than the one that we’re talking about), a content creator can look to capitalize on Terror in a couple of ways:

1. Push their personal phobia buttons

Playing on people’s vanity is an easy one, so let’s start there. Some pregnant women are concerned about their body and appearance post-birth. There’s a fear that they might not get their figure back and when they’ve had a child or two, three or four and so on, there is a lot of buzz around post-natal fitness and celebrities who have done so well losing their baby weight. An effective content idea to capitalize on this fear could be to find images and write a piece of content along the lines of “Celebrities Who Never Shed Their Baby Weight.” Take “Twilight” actress Bryce Dallas Howard:

Is that enough to scare all of you post-natal women out there into boot camp?

2. For the lack of a better phrase, create “all around scary” content.

Beyond hitting personal phobias of your target audience you can go broader and create content that is considered “scary” to the masses. There are just some fears that are common to all of us to a degree; death, ghosts, and the undead are just a few. A great example of this type of approach is scary movies. Murderous psychopaths, zombies, and possessed children usually play a part in scary movies for a reason.

I don’t think anyone has ever made a movie on scary flowers; and before you say it, “Little Shop of Horrors” does not count as a scary movie – there’s too much singing and frolicking for it to be remotely scary.

As a content creator you might be a bit baffled where to go from here, because you don’t have the resources to make a scary movie, and that’s fine. The GIF above is a solid example of scary content that doesn’t take a great deal of effort. If you don’t have the skill to create that sort of content you can always scrape it from the web and feature it just like RegretfulMorning.com with “15 Scary GIFs that will keep you awake at night”. Check out #2, it’s a creepy favorite.

Rage

A violent and uncontrolled anger.

Just like the emotion Grief, it’s not an emotion that people actively seek out; I can guarantee that there are not many members of your audience that can’t wait to read you next article that’s going to p!$$ them off.  So if that is your content strategy, then you may want to reconsider that moving forward. Now that’s not to say that you can’t upset your audience, make them angry or put them into a blind rage. On the contrary, Rage is an emotion that leads to a strong, quick and very purposeful reaction as it is locked in with the Fight in the Fight or Flight Response.

So, my audience doesn’t want to be p!$$€Đ off, but it will pay off if I do so?

Yes and yes. The trick here is not to directly do something to upset your audience. For example, if your audience is sensitive to animal rights and feels animals should not be used for cosmetic testing or as food then YOU SHOULD NOT develop content about how great your new found hobby of fox hunting is. Instead take a piece of content that glamorizes fox hunting and let your audience know how upset you are about it.  Not only will the audience see that you are on their side, but it will also enable a situation for others to react and share both your and their voice.

Should I be worried if someone goes postal?

A little bit. Look at the world today; anyone can sue anyone for the most ridiculous things. I’d be lying to you if I said that you can create any kind of content you want without getting into some hot water. If you put something online that strongly influences your audience to take an extreme action (not limited to, but including suicide, violent acts or child birth pacts) then society will be looking to point the finger. Yet who can prove The Beatles’ song “Helter Skelter” is responsible for the Manson family murders?

Get Mad & Get Scared?

Both of these emotions will be fun to play with as a content creator as they both have the range to provoke very extreme and strong reactions. Content around Rage -if used properly- is really going to give your audience the opportunity to agree with you, vent, and spread your message. Terror content can either freak people out to where you can get them to do what you want them to (such as buy those diet pills to help them lose that baby weight) or alternatively share it with other people that they want to scare. Keep an eye out for terror content around Halloween, and Rage content leading up to the 2012 Presidential Election.

About the author

Lizzie Seedhouse