Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest are good places for positive thinking; their vernacular is rich with optimism, play, reciprocity, and generosity. What happens when fan, friend, and follower meet positive content? They share it more than any other kind of content, according to research and social media watchdogs. One of my favorite examples is this video on this very topic. “The Power of Words” has enjoyed more than 14 million shares since Feb. 2010.
With that in mind, nonprofits and conscious businesses can energize their campaigns and customer engagement by remembering to think, write, and respond positively when creating content. It’s not always easy – especially if your cause advocates change for some very antisocial problems in the world. You need to create empathy and urgency. You need to explain why bad things are bad.
Content4Good submits there are various highly effective ways to educate the world about the individual and social harm of human and environmental crises. Websites, the media, events, and print work best, but social media doesn’t do this job as well. The three tenets of successful writing – audience, occasion and purpose – explain why: Social media audiences, for the most part, are upbeat because it’s designed first for entertainment. The occasion is a quick escape. The purpose is friendship around common interests. Not so easy to get the negative vibes going here.
Research bears out this content phenomenon. In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Marketing Research, content that carried positive emotion was more viral more than content that carried negative emotion. The study also found that physiological arousal also was a factor. Content that evokes anger or anxiety can be just as provocative as content that evokes awe. No doubt, great success has come to some negative high-arousal social media campaigns in the last few years. Yet, overall, day-to-day, positive high-arousal content still gains the most virality. In the end, both can advocate positive aims: to advocate, to do good.
Love in Uncertain Spaces
Another reason positive content is shared more often than negative comment is trust. Fans want to feel a visceral connection with the organizations they support online, but the virtual relationship makes that difficult. Like long-distance lovers, the gap between organization and fan can feel immeasurable when the face of the organization is invisible. The job of social media becomes helping fans and followers find love in uncertain spaces.
According to a CNN report on creativity, research shows that the framing of uncertainty changes the way people react. We don’t mind uncertainty when it’s associated with something positive, like hope.
Here are a few ideas to frame positive content:
- Look for the right words that evoke positive emotions. Say, “Enjoy this article” instead of “Read it.” “Love” things – a lot. Be sentimental; use words like joy, beauty, heart, grateful, awe.
- As a community manager, you are in the customer service business. When someone has a question, problem, complaint, use a concerned voice, solve the issue, and follow-up asap.
- Be a name. Tell people who you are once in a while.
- Inspirational quotes top the charts in viral content. Find them among your organization’s leaders and favorite motivators.
- Be kind. Welcome new fans. Say, “We are grateful for you,” and “Thanks for being here.” Say it just because – no link attached.
- Invite people to email or message you. The more you can close that imaginary gap, the more fans will trust you, and by extension, your organization.
- Ask personal questions, sometimes of an individual in the comment section. Polls are great, but they’re not personal.