psychology of shareable content


Owner & Founder of Afternoon Writings

Psychology of Shareable Content - The Story Behind a Good Story

The psychology of shareable content

It takes more than a few words on paper to entice your audience. You’ve got to choose your words wisely in order to connect with your audience and inspire them to take action. Getting your audience to love and share your content can bring in hordes of new potential clients, which in turn helps boost your credibility. In addition, it might even make Google so excited, they’ll reward you with a higher rank in the search engine. But what does it take to write content your audience love to read ? A look into our brain reveals what it is that makes content shareable.

The "salesperson-effect"

We are constantly being exposed to content on websites, social media, and so on. Some of it we share, and a lot of it we don’t. UCLA psychologists found that something happens in our brain, during that first split second we are being exposed to content, that is different for the things we share versus those we don’t. A phenomenon psychologists refer to as the “salesperson-effect”. A good story activates the mentalizing system in the brain, or the temporoparietal junction (TPJ), which is located on the outer surface of the brain. Ultimately, when we’re reading a good story, the TPJ is responsible for making us want to tell other people. And as it turns out, a good story makes us good at convincing others to get on board too. So when done well, your content could be your 24/7 salesperson.

Tap into emotions

Now that we know the brains behind a good story, let’s take a look at some of the other factors that play a role in whether or not we choose to share content with others. Berger & Milkman, for instance, found that emotions also play an important role in determining how shareable your content is. They found that positive content is shared more often than negative content. Although, there is a little more to the story. Yes, content that evokes strong positive emotions, like awe, laughter, and amusement, are very likely to be shared, but surprisingly, readers are also very likely to share content associated with strong negative emotions, like anger or anxiety. You might want to stay away from writing sob-stories though. Low-arousal emotions, like sadness, decrease the chances of your content being shared.

The element of surprise

When something good happens unexpectedly, it triggers a response in the brain. Our brain releases dopamine, which fuels the sharing of content. When writing your content, think about how you can make your audience feel good when they engage with your brand. Feel-good content will help your audience visualize how good they feel about themselves and your business. Content that takes you by surprise is also more likely to be stored in memory. This means it’s more likely to be remembered by your audience than predictable content.
Of course, all this sounds nice. But what steps can you actually take to surprise your audience into sharing? You offer them new information, do something unexpected, or add a twist to the usual. Like the ending of this post:
The past, present, and future walked into a bar. It was tense.

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