According to a Content Marketing Institute survey, the top challenge for 60% of content marketers was producing engaging content. The top priority for content marketers was to create more engaging content.
Imagine what it would be like if you could make your content more engaging at will by using trigger words to activate involuntary hypnotic reflexes in your audience’s brain.
Think that can only happen in the realm of science fiction? Consider the research below:
- Emory researcher Krish Sathian proved that words related to texture activate areas of the brain associated with touch – even when their usage had nothing to do with tactile sensations.
- Studies have shown an increase in dopamine or oxytocin levels when likeable or moving posts are published on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
Using specific words consciously and correctly can dramatically improve your persuasive power and your ability to engage your audience. But what are these specific words and how can we use the power of words to engage better and trigger emotional responses on social media?
This post will provide a list of words and techniques that can instantly help you write better posts.
Before we get into it, a word of caution. Using words that trigger emotional responses on social media in order to force a conversion will only result in poor engagement and perhaps even drive people away. Your content always needs to be created with your audience’s benefit in mind. So use these words that trigger emotional responses carefully and responsibly.
How to instantly write better content for social media
Do your customers feel like your posts are addressing them specifically? Stumped on how to better connect with your audience?
Here are a few words you can start using right now to create better engaging content.
- Who — Research by Isabel Gauthier shows that if you can’t talk directly to your customer with a headline that has “you” in it, then “who” is the next best word to use. You can reach a broader number of people with a headline like “10 Must Have Gadgets for Anyone Who Is Still Looking for That Perfect Gift.”
- What — When psychologists looked into which words are most noteworthy out of the five W’s (who, what, where, when, why), “what” was found to be 52 percent more memorable than the others. For example – “Do you know what you are missing by avoiding this simple time management technique?” The “what” in a headline encourages readers to find out without giving too much away. “What You Need to Know about This Hot New Product” gives a hint of the topic you’re discussing, while still incentivizing readers to click.
- Where — Other psychological research necessitates the importance of “where,” noting that it makes the content seem personalized. “Where” doesn’t have to be location-based but more direction-based, like “The Coolest Places Where People Are Using This Hot New Product.”
- Why — People are bound to have questions. “Why” itself is a question, so by posing it in a headline, you’re answering those queries. “Why You Need to Buy Hot New Product in Time for the Holidays” will naturally tickle a customer’s curiosity.
- When — Customers love having what they want when they want it. Play into that by including “when” in your content and prioritizing that “now” is the time to start shopping.
Consider inserting these words into your posts.
- You — If you want content to feel like it’s just for an individual customer, use “you.” Scientific research has found that your brain’s cuneus, superior and middle temporal cortex, and middle frontal cortex all come to life when you hear or see your own name. Since you don’t know the names of every one of your customers, using “you” is the next best thing. Try a headline like “Hot Products You Need to Try.”
- Imagine — The word “imagine” insists that you do just that: picture a better future. When you use this word in your content, customers will think about how their lives will become better by using your product. Even better, you don’t have to get too salesy. “Imagine How Simple Life Will Be with Our Product” is a great sample headline.
- Free — “Free” hints at freebies or discounts, but it’s definitely a word that customers will react to. That said, don’t just throw it in a headline for the sake of throwing it in. Research suggests that you should only use it when you are actually giving away something for free. In that case, write something like “Get In on Our Buy One, Get Product Free Sale Before It’s Too Late!”
- Because — The word “because” explains things. Instead of leaving your headline open for interpretation, this word tells you why you need to click. “Buy This Product Because It’s a Hot Seller” is as straightforward as it gets.
- Instantly — The importance of using “when” was already discussed. “Instantly” has a similar effect. Science has proven how much it pleases the brain to get something right away instead of waiting. Including “instantly” in your headlines and content (“Instantly Enjoy a Cleaner House with Product”) will produce the same response in your customers.
400+ Words You Can Use Immediately That Trigger Emotional Responses
Get them to burn with anger
Why get people hot and bothered?
Because something is wrong and action needs to be taken to correct it. Unfortunately, most people wait until a situation becomes intolerable before doing something about it. However, social media can be used to fan the flames. Research shows that posts that evoke anger go viral because your audience is so incensed that they can’t refrain from commenting. Others see that and they react to your posts as well. Here are some of the best words to use in your headlines and content when you want to get people angry.
Other words for anger:
Charged words that should be used sparingly:
Words that inspire action:
Sick and tired
Learn from Cosmopolitan
Take look at a cover of Cosmopolitan magazine and you’ll notice that they regularly tap into lust in their headlines.
After all, lust is regarded as one of the 7 Deadly Sins, but it’s one that you want your customers to be “guilty” of. People always want to know more, to be in the know, whether it be news or gossip. By using words in your content that kindle their desire for more, you’ll get customers in the mood to shop.
Other words for lust:
Sexually-charged words that should be used only when appropriate:
Words that jump off the screen:
Tempt and intrigue them
Research from Carnegie Mellon University describes curiosity as being the space between what we know and what we want to know. Hence why teasing open the width of a person’s curiosity gap, according to Wired, feels like a mental itch we just have to scratch. Curiosity is what sparks discovery, demands knowledge, learning and exploration.Curiosity feels like a mental itch we just have to scratch Click To Tweet
Identify what knowledge your audience wants and leverage it to spark their curiosity. You could do this, for example, by asking a question that poses a challenge. Buzzfeed often engages their audience via curiosity like in this Facebook post.
Sprinkle words that evoke curiosity through your post and your audience won’t be able to help being intrigued.
Other words for curiosity:
Thirst for knowledge
Electric words to use only when really needed:
Enticing words to have in your arsenal:
Behind the scenes
When we meet someone new, we process various cues to determine whether we trust someone or not. It is not much different when people come across your content. The decision to trust and engage or move on is in part dependent on the value being communicated and other indefinable factors.
Your audience needs to trust you and your product or service. So make them feel safe.
Building that level of trust requires having a quality reputation and brand, as well as quality words used to describe you or your product or service. Whether it be testimonials, copy, case-studies or brand stories, consider the words being used.
Other words for safety:
Truly comforting words when you need to bring out the big guns:
Words that are the written equivalent of a security blanket:
Try before you buy
No questions asked
Encourage and inspire
What makes certain quotes by famous people so powerful that they become the near equivalent of mantras decades after they are first heard? Consider this quote from the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“If you can’t fly then run. If you can’t run then walk. If you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”
Here are a few reasons.
- Ward Farnsworth, author of Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric, says that there is power in words and that people have an “appetite for well-expressed wisdom, motivational or otherwise.”
- Media psychology expert and communications consultant Scott Sobel, founder of Media & Communications Strategies, Inc. in Washington, D.C, says – As people, we are aspirational and want to look up to role models and leaders. Their inspirational quotes affect us on a primal level.
- Inspiration, according to psychologists Todd M. Thrash and Andrew J Elliot in their report, is transcendent of our more animalistic, self-serving concerns and limitations and involves a moment of awareness of new possibilities. Inspiration also involves both being inspired by something and acting on that inspiration.
So for your audience to be open to your message, use well-structured posts that use strong imagery and appeal to their aspirational nature. Here are some words to encourage and inspire your audience.
Other words for inspiration:
Words that get shares:
Other encouraging words:
Make them happy as Larry
A study shows that happiness is the main driver for social media sharing and that emotions layered with or related to happiness make up the majority of drivers of viral content, according to Fractl. Here is what the Fractl study layered over Robert Plutchicks wheel of emotions looks like.
Research by the University of Pennsylvania shows that making yourself and those around you happy is possible by just spreading the word. Similar research also shows that people tend to share their positive daily experiences 70% of the time. In fact, researchers at the University of California found that happiness is not only contagious, but online communities may “magnify the intensity of global emotional synchrony.”Happiness is not only contagious but online communities may magnify its intensity Click To Tweet
So how do you go about sharing posts that share good news and evoke happiness? Commit to writing more positive posts. To get you started, here are some words you can use.
Other words for happiness:
Words that are the happiest of the happy (reserve for content that really needs to hook the customer in):
Other joyful words to incorporate:
On cloud nine
Instill fear in them
Have you noticed how major news channels hook their viewers? Quite often, it is through the use of words that create doubt and fear.
Because it grabs your attention. The words they use activate a part of the brain called the amygdala that drives the fight or flight instinct. Research suggests that the amygdala is connected not just to obvious fears like your home on fire, but also to ambiguous ones.
So how can you develop content that instills fear in your readers?
- Convince them that they are facing issues that will cause serious difficulties if not addressed soon with credible information.
- Address potential arguments that could cause them to laugh it off saying that it does not apply to them.
HubSpot uses this technique in a few of their posts like the one below –
Consider using the words listed below to get you started with instilling fear in your audience.
Insulting words that, while not directed at the customer, will get them to react:
Loaded, explosive words:
Get your audience emotional
As the great writer Dale Carnegie said:
“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”
By using the right words in your content, you can appeal to those emotions. It would seem that sites like ViralNova, Upworthy, and Buzzfeed have really tapped into this ability to pull in readers via their emotions.
This list of words that trigger emotional responses is long, but in no way complete. To help you get started with creating content using words that trigger emotional responses on social media, download our PDF that includes all 400+ words.
What are words that have struck you as being able to trigger emotional responses? Let us know in the comments below.