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6 emotional hooks to make your video content better

People involved.

Research done by people like Daniel Kahneman means marketers understand better than ever, the crucial role emotion plays in advertising and consumer choices. So let's assume you get the need to lean on the emotional rather than rational in your comms. Great. But wait, how the hell do you actually do it?! ‘Lets make our content more emotional’… sounds nice doesn’t it. But practically, it’s not quite as easy as that. So here are 6 ways you can add 10x more emotion to your video content:

Tell a story

A change in emotional states or story arc, is an important emotional lever. Ask yourself how the character, audience or emotion has changed by the end of your video? If they haven’t, your video is doing the equivalent of emotional flat-lining. And no one wants that. There are lots of ways of adding a change in emotional states to your content, but one of the simplest is to embrace the dark side. Add a villain to your story. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a character itself, but it’s talking to the bad as well as the good, the risks, not just the rewards. Remember, if the main character in your video suffers a bit, their final achievement becomes oh so much sweeter and emotionally resonant. Try to think about your audience’s world without your brand in it, why might this be a worse place? Can you embrace this darkness and make it a key part in the script for your video?

We love this example of storytelling from Apple, they clearly portray the stakes and risks involved in the protagonists' story:

Be a mirror to your audience

To increase the chances of your audience having an emotional reaction when they watch your content, make sure you are reflecting them in what you create. It’s much easier to emotionally connect with someone you can identify with after all. It sounds obvious, but make sure you have a clear idea of not just what your audience might look like, but also an understanding of their personalities, motivations and tastes and make them a key part of your content. And biggest of all, don’t manipulate the story so they break out of this character to take a decision that benefits your brand. Audiences will see through this and all that work you put in to engage with them emotionally will go out of the window.

This example really plays into those all too familiar feelings from both the adult and child's point of view. You'd struggle not to smirk watching it...

Add a sprinkling of mystery

No one likes a big tease. WRONG. They really do. Studies show the power of teasing audiences is super significant. That desire to find the answer to the question you have posed creates a big emotional hit that drives active engagement. You need to reassure audiences that they can resolve the mystery quite quickly (often by just continuing to watch your content for a bit longer), but nevertheless, a bit of mystery is one of most effective ways of driving that initial bit of engagement you need for people to stop and watch. Think about ways you could do this at the start of your video, and also how the supporting copy (if you’re working in social) can all help contribute to this.  

Some delicate storytelling keeps an air of mystery throughout the ad with a satisfying emotional payoff at the end.

Make them laugh

Humour is one of the hardest things to get right in advertising. But humour is also the most powerful enhancer of engagement. So if you’re looking for the most effective emotional hit, this is the place to be. It will also help humanise your brand - demonstrating that you don’t mind laughing at yourself adds a big dollop of humility too. A good place to start, is to think about your brand positioning and your archetype and decide what type of humour might be most appropriate. For example, a carefree, spontaneous brand might lend itself to a childish prank, whereas a more friendly approachable brand might think about some kind of ‘everyday laugh’ in their approach to humour. A more assertive and forthright brand might think about using ‘put downs’ while a caring and sensitive brand might use more of an ‘innocent smile’ as its inspiration. The list goes on. Just remember there are lots of ways to make people laugh and there will be one that’s right for your brand, so don’t neglect one of the most effective means of emotional engagement you have.

This is an excellent example of how to use a simple piece of humour to talk about a product or service in a more engaging way

Surprise surprise

Our brains are hard-wired to use the things that we have seen before to guess what might be coming next. As content makers, if we simply deliver on that, we’re unlikely to stir emotions and even more unlikely to be memorable. But when our audience expect one thing and get something different, the complete opposite happens. There is a big emotional hit and our emotions fire up our brain to try and understand what the hell just happened! This makes content memorable. So ask yourself, is the piece of content you're planning surprising in any way? And if it isn’t, how could you add an element of surprise to your story?

This a great example from Reebok of how to capture your audience with something completely surprising (and very satisfying)

Tap into existing emotions

There is no getting away from it, it's challenging to engage with audiences. You need to create content that is emotionally resonant, you need to get it in front of them at the right time and in the right place. It's not always straight forward. But tapping into existing emotions is a super smart shortcut. The best way to do this is to take things that the audiences already attach emotion to and feature them in your advertising. This is why using a well known music track in content is so effective, but you could also think about old TV shows, childhood toys, clothes, games. The list is endless. But taking items like this can really help give your content an emotional leg up.

Microsoft does a good job of this here by taking a trip down memory lane, using nostalgia as a way of forging meaningful connections between past and present

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