emotions+story=viral - elegant themes

“When dealing with people remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic but creatures of emotion”- Dale Carnegie

The above quote is so apt when it comes to how emotions combined with a good story create viral marketing for brands since humans are primarily emotional creatures. A lot of research is being done to understand the science behind our emotions and how that affects our thought process and motivation to buy products.

 So what makes emotions and story one of the key factors to virility?

It is identified in a study that there are three characteristics to every emotion namely valence, arousal and dominance, called the VAD model. But emotion in itself is not the driving factor but where the emotion falls on these characteristics becomes evitable for the content to become viral.

Valence – is the positivity or negativity we give to an emotion. Happiness has a positive valence and fear has a negative valence.

Arousal- ranges from excitement to relaxation. Anger is high arousal and sadness is low arousal.

Dominance – fear has low dominance factor and something we have more choice over in emotions has high dominance factor. For example- admiration is high dominance.

What was also found in another study done by a company called Fractal is- that the content has to be interwoven with these characteristics when telling the story. The characters in the story needs to tap one out of the three above or a mixture of more than two to bring the emotion reaction from us and then continue the forward motion in terms of sharing the content. What differentiated the commenting behaviour from social sharing behaviour was arousal created more of commenting behaviour and high dominance created more of socially sharing behaviour.

Viral content becomes viral due to the content being surprising, emotionally complex, or extremely complex in nature. And the most important thing to note for marketers is why these emotional combination drive people to share are because they achieve the optimum amount of arousal and dominance in their content.

For example the below brand PURINA – has been successful in creating a viral content through making a series of these videos-


If you see the video the tools in which the story is told is using the title like friendship which creates high arousal as it’s a happy emotion and that has high dominance and we feel like sharing this content as proved by the study. The brand is creating the story which is also relatable to the pet parents and they can feel a sense of familiarity and humour after watching the video. This has become viral on buzz feed and millions of viewers have seen this and subscribed to it as the brand has created a relationship and as soon as the new video with new title is out people will watch it and share it this gives the brand recognition and puts the brand in the consideration set as and when the people who have seen the video will think about this brand for their cat.

Another brand that has used sadness and surprise to bring out emotional response and social sharing is Unilever with their Dove real women real rewards this campaign was one of the top ten viral Marketing campaigns again the brand intelligently was telling a story and tapping on the arousal and dominance combination.  The brand got 114 millions views in the first month and currently their youtube channel of usa has 98thousand subscribers.


These are some of the examples that are proof that good content that incites emotions can go viral in no time and people start sharing such viral content as they feel aroused by the story they see and they feel the necessity to share such content with other emotional beings.

Let me know if you think Emotion + Story = VIRAL








Reference- https://hbr.org/2016/05/research-the-link-between-feeling-in-control-and-viral-content


6 thoughts on “EMOTION +STORY=VIRAL

  1. Emotion may be a good bet for viral content. However there may be a scenario where there is an information overload that the content is ignored. Hence relying heavily on emotion may not be good. There is also a chance of being sterotyped eg. Insurance and fear.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I completely agree that adding emotional content in your advertisements today is very essential. I believe the main reason for companies to focus on this is due to the end number of competitors present in the market. They need to connect with their customers and educate them, rather than following the old direct selling system. I loved your blog and the Dove example which you gave. It fitted well in relation to what you were trying to convey. I have some more example to share which might add value to your blog. Have a look at this on

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Every viral campaign has an expression or emotion attached to it. A vice versa would not be applicable. Nostalgia specifically is an emotion that goes miles when it comes to viral marketing. Checkout all the Ads by the drink brand ‘Paperboat’. It’s a classic example. Getting the context and timing right, along with the emotion is also a key criteria or else the campaign can back fire. We all know how Woolies was bullied they tried capitalizing on the ANZAC day emotion.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s