Earlier in the week I wrote an email to ProBlogger PLUS subscribers that talked about deepening reader engagement by aiming at the hearts of your readers.
In it, I shared an example from FeelGooder of a personal story post that I wrote that got a great reaction from readers.
As I wrote that email it struck me that my example post was only one example of a type of post that engaged the emotions of readers.
People are emotional beings and, as a result, when they’re engaged, that often leads to actions (both positive and negative).
As bloggers, many of us are interested in getting our readers active in different ways (commenting, linking to our posts, sharing them on Twitter, buying our products, and so on), so writing in a way that connects with readers’ emotions is something we might want to think about.
Of course this is open to abuse and can do damage to both our readers and our own reputation if it’s used in manipulative ways, so tread with care! Let’s examine seven emotions and how they might be used in blogging.
When it comes to reader engagement there’s nothing much more powerful than connecting with a disappointment that a reader might be feeling. Sharing one of our own disappointments—or at least showing understanding and empathy around what others are facing—is very powerful for building credibility and trust.
This one can be tricky. Many bloggers have used anger to trigger responses from readers in ways that are quite manipulative (for example, by baiting people to respond angrily). While it can be used in a negative way, there are times also when it can be used positively. For example, when you’re trying to bring about some sort of social change for good, highlighting an injustice can evoke an anger in people that motivates them to take some type of positive action.
Many humor blogs have experienced great success by tapping into joy. Present readers with something that evokes a belly laugh, make it easy to share your content on their favorite social network, and you’re on the way to a viral traffic event.
Fear is another one that has been used by many in an emotionally manipulative manner, but it can be used for positive purposes also. I still remember the time when as a smoker I was confronted with a family friend in the last stages of dying of emphysema. I never smoked another cigarette again.
“Wow—I didn’t expect that!” I love getting comments like that—it shows that I’ve done something to snap readers out of a zombie-like state. Surprise or shock your readers with new information, writing in a new voice, presenting a staggering statistic, or even repackaging familiar ideas in a way that’s new, and you’ll certainly get a reaction.
Pride is something that’s often presented in a negative way (he’s too proud for his own good) but it is also something that can deepen reader engagement.
For example, you could mention readers by name in your posts or link to things that they’ve written on their own blogs, or show a video of them that they’ve posted on YouTube. Everyone wants to be noticed, and everyone wants to have their achievements celebrated. These things make a person proud and by tapping into that, you can build the relationship that you have with them. So build into your blog opportunities for readers to showcase what they’ve done, what they think, and who they are.
There’s nothing like the anticipation of a big event to get people coming together to engage, whether it be the release of a new product from Apple, the premier of a long-awaited blockbuster movie, or the season finale of much-loved TV show. If you can tap into the anticipation and excitement that people have about something that’s important to them, you can create something powerful.
This is particularly effective if you create a space for people to talk about the thing that’s anticipated, or if you have special information about it that people want.
What would you add?
I’ve only scratched the surface here. There are a lot of emotions that I’ve not touched on. What would you add? Which emotions have you focused upon in your own blogging, and what has worked in getting reactions from readers?