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400+ words that trigger emotional responses on social media

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:

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.

Download a PDF of all 400+ words

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.

Consider inserting these words into your posts.

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:

Fury
Rage
Wrath
Indignation
Umbrage
Antagonistic
Gall
Outrage
Chagrin
Resentment
Rankle

Charged words that should be used sparingly:

Abuse
Evil
Loser
Punish
Hate
Ruthless
Backstabbing
Maul
Money-grubbing
Bully
No-good
Crooked
Sniveling
Crush
Pound
Lies
Violence
Coward
Payback
Lying

Words that inspire action:

Revolting
Arrogant
Foul
Sick and tired
Loathsome
Smug
Underhanded
Obnoxious
Snob
Force-fed
Stuck up
Disgusting
Snooty
Know-it-all
Preposterous
Snotty
Conniption
Blow up
Animosity
Irritation
Mad
Enmity
Resentment
Bitterness
Vexation
Hissy fit
Ire

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:

Desire
Fervor
Itch
Appetite
Craving
Longing
Thirst
Covet
Wantonness
Licentiousness

Sexually-charged words that should be used only when appropriate:

Shameless
Naked
Sex
Naughty
Depraved
Uncensored
Sleazy
Lascivious
Dirty
Shameless
Lick
Provocative
Steamy
Exposed
Aphrodisiac
Sweaty
Whip
Sensual
Lechery
Libido
Carnality
Lewdness
Prurience

Words that jump off the screen:

Thrilling
Hypnotic
Tantalizing
Sinful
Forbidden
Tawdry
Scandalous
Lonely
Brazen
Animalism
Excitement
Urge
Cupidity
Appetition
Yen
Hunger
Appetence
Passion
Burn
Debauchery
Self-indulgence
Yearn
Want
Need

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:

Interest
Concern
Questioning
Wondering
Investigation
Inquiring
Thirst for knowledge
Eagerness
Searching
Inquisitiveness

Electric words to use only when really needed:

Controversial
Banned
Off-limits
Backdoor
Concealed
Little-known
Unusual
Under used
Smuggled
Blacklisted
Withheld
Strange
Bootleg
Unauthorized
Censored
Black market
Outlawed
Illegal
Cover-up

Enticing words to have in your arsenal:

Insider
Hidden
Behind the scenes
Private
Confidential
Secrets
Forgotten
Confessions
Lost
Snooping
Intrusiveness
Acquisitiveness
Inquiring mind
Regard
Prying
Meddlesome
Officiousness
Nosiness
Eavesdropping
Gossip
Rubberneck
Newsmonger
Examining
Peeping
Analytical
Impertinent
Scrutinizing
Hooked
Keen
Taken
Immersed

Insulate them

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:

Insulation
Security
Assurance
Shelter
Safeness
Immunity
Cover
Inviolability
Defense
Freedom

Truly comforting words when you need to bring out the big guns:

Unconditional
Tested
Results
Ironclad
Lifetime
Research
Certified
Authentic
Refund
Backed
Privacy
Money back
Recession-proof
Proven
Endorsed
Official
Best-selling
Protected
Verified

Words that are the written equivalent of a security blanket:

No strings attached
Try before you buy
Cancel anytime
No questions asked
No risk
No obligation
Surety
Impregnability
Faithfulness
Upholding
Perpetuation
Promise
Support
Preserve
Certainty
Insurance
Safekeeping
Warranty
Guarantee
Infallibility
Dependability
Reliability
Transparency
Trustworthiness
Durability
Safekeeping
Long-term
Shield

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.

People have an appetite for well-expressed wisdom, motivational or otherwise Click To Tweet

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:

Motivation
Hunch
Vision
Enthusiasm
Insight
Creativity
Thought
Notion
Stimulus
Idea

Words that get shares:

Brainchild
Spark
Impulse
Muse
Whim
Animus
Revelation
Deep thinking
Illumination
Spur
Afflatus
Genius
Awakening
Incite
Revivify
Boost
Embolden
Rally
Inspirit
Prop up
Hearten
Psych up
Strengthen

Other encouraging words:

Influence
Approach
Buoy
Cheer up
Goad
Reassure
Excite
Praise
Instigate
Stir
Refresh
Galvanize
Rouse
Buck-up
Applaud
Assist
Egg on
Propose
Recommend
Promote
Advocate
Campaign for
Kindle
Champion

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:

Merry
Cheerful
Grateful
Ecstatic
Chirpy
Jolly
Tickled
Sunny
Glad
Lively

Words that are the happiest of the happy (reserve for content that really needs to hook the customer in):

Overjoyed
Blithe
Gleeful
Spectacular
Triumph
Stunning
Breathtaking
Miracle
Wonderful
Victory
Excited
Sensational
Amazing
Blissful
Uplifting
Valor
Eye-opening
Daring
Jubilant
Devoted
Magic
Fulfilling
Mind-blowing
Heartfelt
Spirit

Other joyful words to incorporate:

Hope
Fearless
Hero
Conquer
Belief
Audacity
Flying high
Faith
Defiance
Cheer
Bravery
Guts
Heart
Grit
Chipper
Playful
Light
Peaceful
Upbeat
Perky
Exultant
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.

Why?

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?

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.

Worry
Anxiety
Concern
Terror
Phobia
Distress
Doubt
Trepidation
Foreboding
Creeps

Insulting words that, while not directed at the customer, will get them to react:

Fooled
Bumbling
Stupid
Crazy
Horrific
Gullible
Frightening
Toxic
Victim
Lunatic
Silly
Slave
Dumb
Feeble
Cripple

Loaded, explosive words:

Tailspin
Caution
Catastrophe
Bloodcurdling
Hack
Trap
Disastrous
Collapse
Invasion
Risky
Scary
Insidious
Targeted
Lurking
Mistake
Warning
Plummet
Embarrass
Wounded
Painful
Jeopardy
Danger
Shatter
Hazardous
Peril
Hoax
Poison
Looming
Nightmare
Beware
Devastating
Played

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.

Get your list of trigger words

What are words that have struck you as being able to trigger emotional responses? Let us know in the comments below.

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