This will make you really cross: make your customers laugh at you…!

Ed MilibandEd Miliband has made British strikers angry today; he has distanced himself from their action, saying it is wrong. (Quick aside: why is it called “action” when striking actually means NOT doing something…?) Anyway, I digress, the result of his Tweet this morning has been that strikers have become more vocal, suggesting that Mr Miliband himself needs to “get real” about the issue. You can imagine the banter on the picket line: “have you seen what one of The Marx Brothers is saying?” or “Tripe! What drivel our so-called leader is spouting”. Those teachers who are on the picket lines well after 3.30pm (going home time) are angry not only at losing a day’s pay, they now have to contend with the Labour Party effectively supporting the Tory boys. No wonder there’s tons of negativity flying around on Twitter with loads of re-tweets.

Indeed, whenever anything makes us angry we tend it share it. Look at the number of complaints on Twitter alone – people moaning about bad service, commenting on some aspect of the stupidity of an Apprentice candidate, or complaining about their favourite football team’s ineptitude. And it is these kind of messages that appear to get the most Re-Tweets.

If it isn’t these anger-induced messages we share, it is the funny video on YouTube. Indeed, some of the most “viral” stuff online is the humour. Rarely do “ordinary” business blog posts get that much attention. Last week, the most commented item on my blog was “Are Facebook users stupid?” It appears I made several people angry – and they commented..! But when people agree with what you write or go “that’s nice” they don’t tend to interact, nor do they pass it on.

The “Holy Grail” is combining anger with comedy. If you can make people laugh and angry at the same time, then you have hit the jackpot, as the video below shows.


With over 10m views and loads of recommendations and shares, this video about how United Airlines broke a guitar remains a significant part of online history. But the key to its success is that combination of anger and humour.

Now, a new study confirms what newspaper editors have known for years; if you trigger emotions, you lead to more people talking about your story and more people sharing it. The research found that two important emotions in getting people to share content online were humour and anger. If you make your readers cross and give them a laugh at the same time you are on your way to viral heaven.

So, if you want more people to “like” your content, to “Tweet” it or to “Digg” it, you need to fire up their “high arousal” emotions such as anger, laughter or titillation. Making people sad, feel content or simply smile, does not achieve the same ends. The reason why many businesses don’t get the social sharing they want online could be they are simply too business-like – trying to be calm, placid and unemotional. If they want to get the benefit of online social sharing, it seems that they need to start becoming emotional, rather than plain and ordinary.

Perhaps Mr Miliband would have had less trouble today if he hadn’t been so emotive – but then he would never have dominated the news agenda either. Goodness, am I being cynical?

This will make you really cross: make your customers laugh at you...! 1

Like this article?

Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on email
Share via email

Other posts that might be of interest

Internet Psychology

Is your brain back to front?

British businesses will spend this weekend on tenterhooks as they wait for Monday’s announcement from the Government about the ending of lockdowns. For the past couple of weeks, the mutterings from 10 Downing Street suggest

Read More »
Internet Psychology

Can you do boring tasks?

Last week, not far from the M25 in Buckinghamshire, the biggest-ever boring machine in the UK started its slow churn through the Chiltern hills to dig a tunnel for the HS2 rail system. It will

Read More »
Fence painting
Online Business

When did you last paint your garden fence?

If you are a “big change” business, then you are like my garden fence. Leaving it unpainted for so long has created much more work, at a higher cost, than if it had been tended to every year. Ignoring reviews of your online activity for long periods also means you make more work for yourself and raise your costs.

Read More »