You want to know what aspect of your writing makes it engaging?
You’re at the right place.
Over last few months, we crunched millions of likes.
We analyzed 100K+ business writings that got 100+ engagements.
We went on the deep end to find answers to questions about emotion tone:
- Is there a relationship with engagement?
- What tones determine 1000+ engagements?
- What common tones are among the most engaged articles?
We went on a journey to discover the perfect articles. We wanted to make sure that the input to our model was clean and unbiased.
My co-founders and I spent several weekends drinking Yerba Mate while sampling and categorizing these articles. Lots of it.
We recruited the world’s top machine learning scientists to build language models.
Here’s what we learned:
Emotional Tone and Engagement
We started with analyzing and aggregating top tones present in the 1200 business articles that got the highest number of engagements (100+ engagements.)
I created a tone matrix radar chart given marketing nerd that I’m. I quickly realized that it is not going to yield any insights. I missed the mark.
Next, we tried correlationship analysis.
We were onto something.
We found that articles that exhibited openness in the writing style had a positive relationship with the number of engagements it received.
We see that there is a slight tendency for articles to receive more engagements if the language conveyed an “Open” style of writing.
Openness in writing is a writing style that has:
- Imaginative tone: Use metaphors to describe your emotion (Writings often starts with a dialogue, or, “Imagine this,” and tiny details within a context)
- Emotional polarity: Use heavy contrast. Reflect on positive as well as negative emotions. (e.g., I fired myself from ten different jobs, or, This is only the beginning of something incredible.)
- Adventurousness: Take reader on a journey (e.g., We spent the whole weekend at Barnes and Nobles. We drank Yerba Mate while analyzing text for these articles. Lots of it.)
Here’s an example:
Original Sentence: “My startup was at risk because I over-indexed for coding and analytics”
Openness Version: “My bias towards technical skills almost killed my startup.”
This surprised us. We wanted to see if this relationship continued to exist in different segments of our data.
We sliced the data of the top 500 articles, top 300 articles, and top 100 articles respectively.
Openness seems to be the tone most likely to result in a positive increase in article engagement in both the top 500 and top 300 categories.
In other words, if your article is hitting the top 500, but you’re looking to bring it up even higher, then using open tones is likely to be the best way to increase engagement even further.
The only exception is for correlations between articles in the top 100, where openness ranks third behind “Fear” and “Disgust.”
We hypothesize that strongly-charged and controversial language separates the moderately successful articles (top 500) from the truly viral ones (top 100.)
For higher sample size, “Openness” appears to be the most reliable tone in terms of strength of its relationship with engagement.
What role do other emotions play in creating engagement?
We went on to explore one of the negative emotions: Fear.
We found that Fear works up to a certain point. It creates higher engagement.
After a specific threshold, Fear has a negative relationship with engagements.
In the next few weeks, we will take a deeper look at:
- Opening and ending paragraphs of the most viral articles.
- Story arcs of the 100 most viral articles.
- Style of the voice of viral articles – formal, informal, personalization, etc.
How to create more engagement with openness in your writing?
If you want more engagement with your content, ask yourself:
Are you open in your writing by revealing your emotions?
Are you taking your reader on a journey?
Getting your reader’s imagination to work for you is the ultimate leverage in writing. No copy can compete with the images she creates in her mind.
Data Science disclaimers:
- Correlation doesn’t imply causation.
- Use your own judgment when writing content.
- Don’t ask for our dataset. As our economist friends say, “The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.”
Want to analyze how your writing stacks up on the emotional spectrum?