Brand Guide: Leveraging emotions for social media marketing

Abhishek Punia ARMS Worldwide on social media emoticons usage

Abhishek Punia, #ARM Worldwide takes us through a few social media content hooks, explaining how brands leverage varied human emotions to stay for the top of the mind Brand Recall.

When it comes to social media, brands need to appear as human-like as possible and humans are inherently emotional beings. If studies are to be believed, 90 percent of human actions are dominated by emotions and when something connects with us on an emotional level, we feel a certain willingness to share it with our friends and family. This is perhaps why brands are leveraging the power of emotions in their social media campaigns and putting forward a greater emotional appeal to their audience. 

There are several kinds of emotional messaging brands are utilizing in their communication. For instance, happy content is bound to be shared widely. This is perhaps because happiness is intensely wired into us and we often find ourselves craving good news.

In a study on viral content conducted by Kelsey Libert, it was found that content layered with happiness was more likely to be shared across social media channels. Let’s look at a few more of these emotions and try to identify brands that are successfully leveraging (or have leveraged) them in their social media campaigns. 


Trust is a highly effective trigger in marketing and many brands try to present themselves as trustworthy in front of their audience. This can be through testimonials, reassurance, or the presence of transparent facts and figures on their social media channels. 

Encouraging user-generated content is another surefire way to build trust for your brand. Starbucks is an excellent example of this. It often encourages customers to include their products in their own content by tagging their handles or their hashtag. Most of these UGC campaigns are successful because they are easy to join, relate to their product, and inspire people to be creative. 

While thinking about this subject, it is hard to forget their #Redcupcontest and #whitecupcontest where they asked their customers to doodle on their Starbucks cups and the best designs became a part of the limited-edition cups. 

Another brand that has excelled in UGC campaigns is MTV. Like Starbucks, MTV too, encourages the audience to get creative with their content and subtly integrates its presence in their own posts and stories. The youthful and quirky personality of the brand allows it to get a great response from the younger audience.


The feeling of belongingness is one of our basic needs as human beings and when brands tap into this emotion, they attempt to have a more direct emotional connect with their consumers. Many brands use this emotion to make customers feel like they’re a part of a particular group.

One highly appreciated example of this is Revolt Motors. Revolt Motors encourages everyone to question the usage of fuel and unites Revolt riders as a community. This community is united on several factors such as environmental consciousness, the joy of riding, or simply the love for adventure. 


Fear is an incredibly powerful driving force in human beings and can influence decision making to a large extent. It encourages people to question their decisions and prompts them to change their choices. This emotion is often used to promote loyalty towards a brand product or service. 

The image above is a classic example of fear being used to grab the attention of the audience by expressing what might happen if they don’t use (or stop using) a brand’s service or product.  This particular social media ad drove a 47% increase in the brand’s click-through rate.

Also read: Digital – A ‘Silver Lining’ In Times of Disruption


FOMO is different from fear. Several brands have noticed the effectiveness of tapping on the emotion of FOMO to instill a sense of desire. However, it is a tough balance to strike as you do not want to upset your audience but leave them wanting more. 

FOMO is an excellent psychological trigger and brands often use this emotion to encourage their audience to avail of their services or buy their products. Some examples are updates on flash sales, pictures of scenic holiday experiences, delicious food, or anything that expresses exclusivity or can expire. Food brands especially play on this emotion by posting pictures of mouth-watering food that makes us fear missing out on devouring the delicacies. 


Humor is one emotion that has the best possibility of creating viral content.  By using humor as an engagement tactic, brands increase the shareability of their content while also staying true to their brand. In fact, according to studies, Social media users are much more likely to share a funny post than an “important” post.

Netflix India is one of the best examples of the use of humor on social media. The Netflix India Twitter account is not an everyday, monotonous corporate account – it is full of sassy content, topical tweets, puns, and epic burns that gives the audience a reason to follow their page. 

Using emotions and feelings in your social media campaigns directly affects the buying process of your target audience. I am sure we have all heard the old expression: “people buy emotionally, then justify logically”.  Therefore no matter what you choose: happiness, fear, belonging, anger, or trust – the emotional triggers should correctly resonate with your target audience. However, including facts and information about your products can definitely increase the chance of purchase.

This article piece is authored by Abhishek Punia, Co-Founder & COO, #ARM Worldwide.