The Emotion Metric from Jonah Berger’s Contagious Explained

The Emotion Metric

Sneeze In Slow MotionThe common sneeze slow motion pictures are a case study in a shared human experience. And they tend to go viral. Why? because slow mo sneezing is literally awesome. You can see air disturbances in slow motion and that intrigues people. Mysterious coughs caught on film give people excitement about the science behind the slow-mo cough. Science can be very cool which explains the popularity of Veritasium the youtube channel. The image of the cough is highly stimulating. Content goes viral when a lot of people make the same decision to share a piece of content.

Non-sense is Emotional

Take the New York Times newspaper’s most exciting articles where there is no obvious relationship. The popular headlines are very random and unrelated indeed. So Jonah Berger conducted a content analysis of keywords to try to figure out what went viral or was being shared….he noticed the emotional metric first.

Contagious AwesomenessAwesomeness

Awe = Science something greater than oneself; great works of arts; daring and discovery. Mysterious = awesome = Godlike. Awe like moments like the panda coughing are powerful because people love, hate and are emotional beings. Emotional arousal is the high order bid. Charlie the Unicorn loosing his kidneys is an emotional twist. At the end of the day, emotional appeals are the core of selling people what they don’t really need therefore when it comes to content marketing, emotionality is key.

The angry United passenger who’s guitar was destroyed for example had a viral hit with “United Breaks Guitars” was a major social trigger message: throwing the guitar leads to the guitar being smashed so the guy wrote a song about it on his other guitar. United Airline’s customer volumes the next quarter dropped significantly. The video is lame but it have 14 million views and United had to pay attention. So even bad products can ride a good story, which brings hope to millions of mediocre things.

Search Indexation with Google is not very emotional. But the Parisian Love video shows the entire Google search features; autocorrect emotional trigger. Even appealing to cute-ness is a useful. The fact is; if we focus on feeling we can get more shares, more links , and more interest.

Contagious LikeSocial Media made the Arab Spring more massive in scale. False rumours can have a negative effect. Political cronies make people angry but ultimately caring is sharing so people who are angry also like to share their anger with others. This is why customer complains are so powerful across the board. If you can get people upset or emotional then you will definitely get sharing.

Contagious criticism Ironic social criticismCriticism | Sex Appeal Metric

There are tons of YouTube videos with thumbnails of suggestive things going on. Sex has sold jeans, beer cars and probably life insurance in its career as a metric that is independent of emotion. In truth, perhaps this particular metric should be part of the emotion metric but on it’s own sex is highly appealing. The reason Berger does not talk sex is that he is a professor at a prestigious university with certain standards and practices. Or is it that sex based content is something embarrassing that shouldn’t be shared…

Contagious criticism Ironic social criticismCriticism | Angry Customers Go Viral

A completely anti-marketing phenomenon is the customer complaint, which keeps social media from getting shared. Social media isn’t really marketing, it’s sales. Just like political institutions, companies too are deeply afraid of what people actually want  when those wants are unfiltered / free to be made known. Berger under plays this part of the emotional metric although he talks about the United Airlines example, he doesn’t go far enough to explore how corporations are actually ANTI-Share and ANTI-viral marketing entities precisely because they can’t control the message…

Contagious criticism Ironic social criticismCriticism | Shadenfreuder

Another area of emotion is the Shadenfreuder model of manipulation. There are a lot of compilation videos of people hurting themselves. But there have yet to be any commercial uses for this kind of virality therefore Berger stays away. It’s certainly difficult to think abstractly of how shadenfreuder could be used for virality without the sharer feeling negatively about themselves….

Contagious Content Is Viral Jonah BergerThis is part of a synopsis of Jonah Berger’s Contagious complete with analysis and criticism.

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