What was the last graph you remember seeing? A line chart? A bar chart?
What about this?
If that was the last graph you saw, what was it in relation to? If you’re a social marketing guru, you may view that graph as a social graph – mapping how people are connected to each other. If you work at Hunch or Amazon, you may view that as a taste graph of how people are linked to different products.
But those aren’t the graphs I see. I see a mood graph: how people are linked to different emotions. And that’s a pretty powerful idea that currently only a few companies are attempting to harness.
Creating a Simple Mood Graph to Add Value
First, you need to create a way of linking people AND content to moods and emotions. As many frustrated Facebook users know, “Like” is the de facto emotion on that popular service. So in many ways, Facebook taps into this concept at a basic level by linking people and content to the “Like” emotion.
Facebook closes this loop by pushing what you like to your friends’ News Feeds, hoping that they will like that content, view Facebook as a trusted source for content that delivers the emotional payoff of a “Like,” and hopefully (for Facebook) will keep them returning to the site for their daily/hourly/by the minute/instant emotional fix.
Giving Consumers More Emotional Depth
But many Facebook users will tell you that these “Like”-driven recommendations fall short. Many people simply don’t like what their friends like, so they go to sites where like-minded people are sharing content.
One of these sites is BuzzFeed, and they are winning the mood graph in every way.
Instead of just stopping at Like, BuzzFeed recognizes that content elicits a wide range of emotions from different people, and they need simple tools to link that reaction to the content they consume. So instead of Like buttons, BuzzFeed has Love, Hate, LOL, Cute, Win, Fail, OMG, Geeky, Trashy, Old, Ew, and WTF? buttons.
That’s a really powerful tool for recommendation and winning people over to your brand. And it’s worked for BuzzFeed. They have well over 10 million unique visitors each month. And they drive more Facebook Likes for different content than some major news sources like CNN.
The idea of tagging content with reactions is so powerful that even YouTube has started implementing the concept. Though the popular online service first copied BuzzFeed’s reactions exactly when beta testing the feature, it has now rolled out a less geekspeaky reaction feature that includes: Like, Dislike, Funny, Incredible, Classic, Cute, What?, and Ouch.
But Where Does My Brand Fit on the Mood Graph?
Facebook, BuzzFeed, and YouTube are brands that people currently trust to link them to the emotions they’re seeking through digital content.
Coca-Cola links people to happiness through its product as well as through its marketing, as evidenced in its Happiness Truck videos.
With these examples as indicators, we can devise a few different strategic approaches:
1. Take the traditional advertising approach, and create ads that elicit the emotional reaction that you want people to associate with your brand. Unfortunately the only reaction most people will tag your advertising with is “Annoying.”
2. Curate content for your target audience that delivers the emotional reaction you want them to associate with your product. Over time, they’ll trust that they can come to your site to get that feeling they want. Currently, we’re seeing a lot of brands going for the LOLs to great success [Link to Greg Steen’s article from last week]
3. Cut past the BS and create a good product that links people directly to the emotional reaction that you want them to have to your product. It may not drive traffic to your website or your YouTube channel or your Facebook page, but people will tag your product with “can’t live without it” when they discuss it with their friends over coffee.
How much is your brand delivering on the emotion you promise customers in your marketing? Moving forward, it will be important to consider that question more frequently as consumers display their reactions in realtime. When most brands think about mood, they’re only thinking about the sentiment of what people are saying about them. Instead, look for ways to figure out what emotional end state your target is looking to attain, and connect them to it.
Need some examples of startups doing this well?
- Canvas: Image sharing board. Lets people place reaction stickers on images created on the site in order to categorize content
- Portrit: Photo sharing site. Lets people categorize photos with different reactions.
- Moodler: This is an Indian startup that tracks the mood of your social graph. This is useful because a declaration of one mood could indicate the need for content that delivers a different mood. For example, if I declare I’m sad, it probably means I want to be cheered up. Look at Jell-O and Wheat Thins as examples of companies using Twitter to accomplish this.