Social Best Practices of Shareable Content, Part 2: Emotions

Published on Dec 15th, 2015

by Jack Weinstein

When KFC reintroduced its iconic brand ambassador Colonel Sanders earlier this year, it was more than just the beginning of a new ad campaign.

It made an emotional connection with audiences using nostalgia .

"The Colonel has always been at the core of everything we do here at Kentucky Fried Chicken,” said Kevin Hochman, chief marketing officer for KFC US . "The 75th Anniversary is the perfect time to give him back to the people and remind everyone of what we're all about."

Emotion was one of four key drivers of shareability on Facebook identified in a study we released Dec. 8 . According to the study, “What Makes Brands’ Social Content Shareable on Facebook?” , the other drivers are social currency , usefulness and storytelling .

This is the second part of a four-part series that will provide social best practices of these shareability drivers. The first part covered social currency .

The Colonel Sanders campaign generated the most-shared posts of the year for KFC. The top 10 posts featured both versions of the colonel or were written in his voice. Among the top five was the introduction of the “real” Colonel Sanders played by comedian Norm MacDonald.

People who engaged with the Colonel Sanders posts likely did so because he evokes memories of the past.

Our study found that positive emotions were more of a driving factor for audiences deciding when to share content. Nearly half of our study participants (47%) said they were more likely to share posts that evoked happiness. Excitement drove shares 27% of the time.


Among different industries, sports generated the most shares based on happiness. Sports evoke happiness, or sadness depending on the outcome of a game, but fans are more likely to share content when their teams win.

Four of the 10-most shared posts from NBA teams in 2015 are from the Golden State Warriors, which won the NBA Championship earlier this year. Two posts celebrated their championship in June and two were posted this season and highlighted an outstanding play by star Stephen Curry .

But the most-shared sports post of the last year came from the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks posted a heartwarming story of player Duncan Keith helping a girl born without the ability to walk or speak, score a goal on the ice .

If that doesn’t make you happy, then... we can’t help you.

The video, which was posted in March, is still generating actions and now has more than 381,000 shares, 56% of its engagement this year.

While posts about happiness generate a lot of shares, those that convey excitement are also highly shareable. According to our study participants, 37% said they were inclined to share sports-related posts that were exciting.

The most-shared posts in the NFL and MLB took place during the post-season. A photo post about the Dallas Cowboys’ come-from-behind victory over the Detroit Lions in the Wild Card round of the playoffs last season topped the NFL. And the highlight video from the Toronto Blue Jays’ come-from-behind win over the Texas Rangers in the American League Division series was most shared among MLB teams in 2015.


Happiness was also a significant driver among consumer health and beauty brands.

The following Dove video generated more shares than any other post in the category. It also generated the second most actions (likes, comments and shares) of any Dove post all year. And it was by far the most engaged post of the #LoveYourCurls campaign.

A post by Burt’s Bees about the passing of founder Burt Shavitz was the second-most shared among consumer health and beauty brands. It demonstrated a rare instance when sadness drives audiences to share posts.


Happiness influenced 61% of our study participants to share posts from publishers.

The Huffington Post continues to generate actions from a video it re-posted in April about soldiers coming home and surprising family members. The video first posted by online publisher Pixable has been shared more than 1.6 million times.


While happiness was more of a factor for most people when choosing what content to share on Facebook, excitement drove shares for fans of automotive brands.

Excitement influenced 47% of automotive brand fans, who tend to be primarily male.

Broken down by gender, posts that evoked emotions weren’t huge shareability drivers for men (24%) or women (20%) among the four. But when asked to choose between the two most prevalent emotional drivers, men chose excitement and women chose happiness.

This post about the re-release of the Ford GT was the second-most shared among automotive brands, bested only by a clever PSA from Porsche . Ford’s post is the epitome of excitement. Watch it and try not to get to get excited. Seriously. It’s not possible.

Don't stop reading yet. Check out Part 3: Usefulness . Jump ahead to Part 4: Storytelling , or back to Part 1: Social Currency .

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