How to Use Emotions to Create Engaging Facebook Posts

Emotions are a powerful force on your consumer’s decisions. You can see this in people’s choices to purchase luxury items such as Ferraris - some would argue there’s no logical reason to buy one, that it’s strictly emotional.

On Facebook, the return on investment (ROI) is different than a direct sale. It’s a Like, share or comment on a piece of content that you’re offering. To stack those returns, you need to create enticing content that resonates with the user and fills one of their emotional needs. On Facebook, those needs are usually rooted in one of the following emotions:

  • The need to feel part of a group
  • The need to feel happy
  • The need to feel proud about themselves

In this article, I’ll show you how to create Facebook Posts to tap into 9 different human emotions to increase your Facebook likes and engagement.

1. Happiness


Happiness is the best place to start. It’s the main reason people go on Facebook: They want a break from their day to look at photos, videos and updates that delight them. By tapping into this emotion you can create a steady heartbeat of engagement on your Facebook Page.

Happiness can come in the form of delight, excitement or laughter - basically anything that makes a person smile. Facebook posts that create happiness generally consist of a photo or a very short, humorous observation/joke.

3 Types of Facebook Posts for Tapping into the Happiness Emotion

1. Photos of animals: Animals, especially ones doing crazy or human activities are the easiest way to create happiness inside a viewer. Something about animals, especially cats and dogs, is so wholesome that most keep can’t help but love them. Add that to the fact that a lot of people have their own pet and you have a post that will both delight and make them reminisce about fond memories. Here is one of an octopus:

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2. Children using your products: This type is quite versatile. It can generally work in two ways:

a. A child using an adult product in the way an adult uses it, such as a baby trading stocks using online trading software (like E*Trade did a few years ago)
b. A child using an adult product in a childish way, such as using a phone as a hammer (having a parent in mid-run to stop them can greatly add to it!)
c. A child using a children’s product in a diabolical way, such as setting up their train set to run over one of their stuffed animals or dolls

3. Personal Achievement/Triumph: This includes showing a person overcoming adversity or completing a challenging activity. For example, a sporting goods retailer could show the winner of a marathon at the finish line using one of the products they sell. Or even something more basic such as a child being able to get to school on time/safely because of their parent’s new car.

2. Greed


This doesn’t mean posting something seductive or NSFW to entice immoral thoughts. It’s about tapping into people’s desire to win a contest or get a great deal on a product they want to buy.

2 Types of Facebook Posts for Tapping into people’s Greed:

1. Contests: The chance to win something free is the best way to tap into greed. People will be enticed by the opportunity to win something that they may not be able to afford or experience an exclusive event. This fantasy is what you want to create in people’s minds to optimize the number of contest entries. Check out a few Facebook contest ideas.

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2. Coupons: Coupons have the ability to tap into this emotion if you offer a very deep discount. By offering 50 - 75% off people have the feeling that they’re getting the better of a business or this is a deal that will never come around again. Optimize your coupons by making them exclusive or limited: Distribute a large number of coupons, but only allow the first X number of people who purchase to get the deal to entice people to buy immediately.

3. Nostalgia


Nostalgia is a great way to engage people. Even if the thing you’re remembering was not the best at the time, like the Lowe’s example below, it’s fun to reminisce and think about what it was like back in the day. It will give people an opening to comment about their memories from that time period or how thankful they are now that a certain fashion has gone out of style.

Check out a great example of a nostalgic post below from Lowe’s Home Improvement:

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Nostalgic posts include descriptive text or photos of specific items or events that were part of people’s day-to-day life in the past. The more unique the item or event the better. This is where your knowledge of your customers comes in handy: The better you know them, the more unique you can make your posts, while still appealing to your entire audience. For example, if you know your audience is mostly composed of software developers, you can make a post reminiscing about how the 486 DX4-100 was the bee’s knees back in the mid-90’s.

Here are 3 more ways to create Facebook posts that tap into people’s nostalgia:

  1. Ask people how certain activities are different for kids these days than they were when they were that age (think technological advancements)
  2. Ask people what their favorite (TV show, song, book, etc.) was when they were a kid
  3. Post a photo of an old/obsolete product and ask people to name what it is

4. Trust


According to a recent Forrester Research report, “70% of US online adults trust brand or product recommendations from friends and family”. That same report indicated that 46% trust online reviews written by customers, but only 10% trust online ads and company written text messages.

Facebook posts are a great venue for promoting user-generated trust elements like reviews and customers using your products. They allow you to discuss more intricate aspects of your business and products in a story format that normal ads and promotions are unsuitable for. If you don’t have a slew of customer testimonials you can give behind-the-scenes looks at your manufacturing process, have employees give short interviews on their opinions of the products and business, or even discuss why you choose to sell the products you do. All of these things give your business a personal, human feel that sales and promotions cannot.

Here are 3 ways to create Facebook posts that create Trust:

  1. Customer Reviews of your products and business
  2. Photos of happy customers in your store or using your products
  3. Behind-the-scenes photos of your employees making your products or talking about how they’re made

5. Anticipation


Anticipation is a a great emotion for not only creating enagement but for driving people to your site or Facebook Page multiple times. By using short timeframes and a mixture of vague and pointed clues to describe something that’s “coming soon” you can paint a picture in people’s minds that they want to see.

Hubspot built up anticipation for its Inbound 2013 conference by asking people to guess who the musical headliner would be:

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Mailchimp built up anticipation for its free giveaway contest by making a series of posts that told me to stay tuned for their “imminent” giveaway:

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6. Togetherness


This is the “Me to!” emotion. It’s the one that makes people feel connected to another person (or brand) by sharing the same opinion on a subject. This is the perfect emotion for Facebook, as it drives tons of Likes.

A simple Facebook Post formula for tapping into this type of emotion is “Like if you ______”

7. Pride


Pride is all about building people’s self-esteem. It can be similar to the “Togetherness” emotion by using national pride by, for example, asking people why they’re proud to be a Canadian. It can also be used for personal pride by giving people a venue for sharing stories about their accomplishments or instances in which they overcame adversity.

3 Types of Facebook Posts for Tapping into the Pride Emotion

  1. “Like” if you’re proud to be [part of a group]
  2. Tell us how you’ve overcome adversity when [dealing with a certain problem/situation]
  3. Share a photo of yourself [during or after a challenging activity]

8. Hope


Hope is the most powerful emotion to utilize to create viral Facebook posts. This emotion is the reason you see scam posts such as “if this post gets 10,000 shares I’ll donate $X to charity”. It plays mostly on two types of people:

  1. Those without the ability to make change in the world, or in themselves, but with the desire to.
  2. Those who are in the process of making a change in the world or in themselves.

This can include posts about how your business is helping to change your local community, or how your customers are using your products to change their lives by, for example, losing weight or finding a job. Posts can even simply be inspirational in nature, by providing inspirational or insightful quotes that motivate people, such as this one of Arnold Schwarzenegger:

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9. Anger


*** WARNING: USE AT YOUR OWN RISK

This is an EXTREMELY hard emotion to tap into properly. I would not recommend for anyone but the most advanced social media expert who has a total understanding of their Page’s audience. If you gauge your audience wrong, these type of posts will fail miserably and come back to bite you.

These types of posts have the potential to create large scale engagement and in-depth moral discussions. These discussions won’t be about your business (hopefully!) but they will serve to make your Facebook Page a forum for discussion about popular issues.

Topics that are usable within this category include sports, politics and (usually large) corporations. Think about popular opinions held within your audience about current issues and give them a place to vent their opinion on them.

The best way to do this is to simply post the story without comment. This will keep you from taking a side in the issue and allow discussion to take place between users.

3 Types of Facebook Posts for Tapping into the Anger Emotion

  1. Sports controversies such as decisions/actions by referees, team owners, players and league management.
  2. Political controversies such as votes on legislation and government spending.
  3. Wrongdoings by large and small corporations that violate employment, consumer and environmental laws.

Conclusion


One thing to keep in mind is that not everyone will always have the exact same emotion to each post you make. As universally-loved cats and puppies are, there are some people who are not happy to see them. So don’t be discouraged if you get one or two negative reviews within your sea of engagement.

Just make sure that the positive reviews heavily outweigh the negative. If you see this is not the case then switch course for your types on content - try different topics and visuals to resonate with your audience.

These tactics are very powerful for creating engaging content, but, to quote Ben Parker, with great power comes great responsibility.

Check out how to create a Facebook contest

complete guide to facebook contests