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In my last blog post, we took a look at how people express and share internal happiness and sadness online. The key takeaways from these emotions are that they are inherently personal, and that they tend to vary across the micro-individual levels. Our next pair of emotions applies to the external levels, or more specifically, communities. As we continue on through Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions, we move away from ecstasy and grief and focus on today’s topic – Admiration and Loathing.
Admiration by definition is the act of looking on or contemplating with pleasure. It is the feeling of being adored, or accepted by those who you’ve worked hard to build a lasting relationship. Genuine trust and admiration does not often come easy. It takes dedication, integrity and most of all communication. Couples who do not communicate get divorced, politicians who do not empathize with the public get criticized, and brands that are out of touch with their consumers lose shareholders. This logic also applies to those who wish to earn the trust of an audience online; admiration is something that must be earned and cannot be taken for granted.
Unlike happiness, admiration is built upon the foundation of those in your social network. No one needs to tell you to be happy, but trust and acceptance can only be achieved through building and cultivating external relationships. Social media is probably the best means of building these types of relationships. It is an immediate line of communication for an artist, company, or writer to promote content and engage an audience.
Great stand-up comedians know that one of the best ways to win over an audience is to interact and make the audience part of the show. People get a kick when they see a performer improvising and working out of his or her comfort zone in order to empathize and laugh along with the people. This is known as “crowd-work”, and it’s an often-overlooked yet important step for a comic to build a psychological layer of trust with the audience.
The same technique applies to social sharing. The most admired people online are those who not only put out quality, consistent content, but also know their niche inside and out. These people know which buttons to push and which types of communication work, and which types don’t work on all of the various social media platforms.
For instance, comedian and writer Rob Delaney was able to tweak his tone and style of jokes to fit within the confines of 140 characters. A few years and over 587,000 followers later, Delaney’s status has risen from a relatively unknown comic to being voted Comedy Central’s funniest person on Twitter. All of this is because of his interaction with his followers and audiences online, and because of his relaxed method of humor.
Loathing stems from the emotions of boredom and disgust, and is the polar opposite of admiration. In other words, it is the extreme dislike of someone or something. Loathing should not be confused with rage (which we’ll cover at another time). Unlike rage, people would rather avoid something they dislike than waste time hating it. This is something to keep in mind if you wish to use controversy as a means for gaining social shares. People who dislike something without anger or annoyance will have no reason to interact or keep it in the context of their minds.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal taste. It would be a disservice to try to cater to every niche on every platform. Not everyone is going to enjoy the same things. For example, I do not enjoy “torture-porn” style horror films. Movies like Human Centipede have gained sort a cult-success due to being so shockingly graphic. After learning about its content, I was so disgusted that I’ve managed to avoid it like the plague. However, it does not make me angry that the film exists. I understand the appeal and have chosen to ignore its existence. Minor criticisms aside, I probably won’t ever share or make comments about it online (this article being the exception), I just don’t think about it, and I’m fine with that.
The point is, take everything in stride. If you are confident enough in the product you’re delivering, then you can bet that there is an audience out there for it. The Internet is a vast network and millions of different people are consuming and sharing content every day. By understanding your niche and keeping an open dialogue with your target audience, you can begin to build the foundations for what people like and share online. Find your voice, and forget what the masses think. You can’t please everybody, nor should you try.