How Social Media Stars Influence Their Followers with Emotional Language

By Mary Anderson, Persado Content Specialist

Social media is inherently personal. Think about some items that may show up on your feed from time to time: Pictures of your high school friend’s children and political statuses from your distant uncle mixed with beauty vloggers and famous smooshed-face dogs. How do social media stars get thousands (sometimes millions) of followers when your statuses only get a few likes on a good day?

As a marketer, you are likely constantly thinking of new ways to reach and engage your audience through email, creative advertising and content. Social media stars make it look easy; they’re naturals at appealing to their audiences and using the emotion Intimacy. Intimacy, defined by Persado as addressing someone in a formal or informal way and implying a sort of relationship, makes social media stars’ followers feel as if they’re best friends just hanging out. 

The relationship feels personal and in turn, social media stars gain the trust of their followers and can help influence buying behavior. In a CITE Research survey of 4,000 active social media users ages 16-61 across the U.S., UK, France and Germany, 44% of respondents said they have considered purchasing a product or service based on a social influencer post. Take a cue from them and work emotional language into your next campaign. 

Have Them at Hello


Why it works: Influencers frequently start their videos with a simple greeting that is often as casual as “Hey, guys!” or “Hi again!”. It’s something you likely do when you FaceTime with a friend. Many YouTubers even have specific names for their fans: the Vlogbrothers call their followers nerfighters, and Stef Sanjati uses breadsquad and sometimes starts her videos off with “hey buns!” This is fun, colloquial and makes followers feel like they’re a part of the star’s circle of friends in the same way Beyoncé fans are proudly part of her BeyHive.
How you can use it:  If you have a younger audience, it may be fun to try to come up with a name for your following. But regardless of the age or audience, beginning emails with “Hi again, because we really love your taste…” feels intimate, complementary and personal.  

Get Personal

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Why it works: Beauty and fashion influencers are trusted among their followings for their opinions and honest advice on products. The very act of them going through the step-by-step process of their beauty and skincare routines and offering feedback is intimate, making their fans feel as though they are doing face masks with their best friend at a wine night. Makeup fanatic Rocio Cervantes, who is known for multicolored eye makeup tutorials, has also opened up to fans about her struggle with acne. Her honesty and vulnerability have helped others to know they are not alone in this and that she is here to help.
How you can use it: Magazines have long been pros at showing readers how to rock the latest fashions or try the newest makeup trends and now, influencers are doing the same. To get in on this, put together an email body, landing page or social post that looks like an editorial guide. You can show users how to rock the new smokey eye with written instructions and images (and, yes, links to your products) or even an embedded how-to video. 

Tell Me an Instagram Story

Why it works: The ephemerality of Instagram stories is the perfect space for intimate moments to flourish because it’s where content lives that is a little too raw or candid for an actual Instagram post. Vine star-turned-YouTuber Amanda Cerny uses stories to depict content as personal as lip syncing vids and moving into a new apartment.
How you can use it: Experiment with different types of stories that are relevant to your brand. Apparel companies might consider doing a “day in the life” story focusing on the outfits a woman wears throughout the day — leggings, a tank and lightweight sweatshirt for morning barre, a shift dress, blazer and sensible flats for the office and that same shift dress with cute heels and a clutch for evening happy hour. Lifestyle brands might take a page out of Cerny’s book and do a story on moving into (or renovating) a new space. 

Ask for Feedback 

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Why it works: By ending their video by redirecting the conversation to the audience, such as "let me know what you think in the comments," it makes the audience feel valued and heard. Artist Jody Steel reaches out to her audience when she’s low on inspiration to ask what subject she should be the next focus of her art.
How you can use it: You may not use this exact mechanism in your promotional emails and social posts (though it’s great to use in organic posts and customer surveys and can be a valuable way to get feedback). But you can — and should — encourage engagement beyond simply opens and clicks on an email. Invite customers to send photos of themselves rocking the outfit they purchased from you and share some of these photos on your social media feed and website. Social proof is like a Yelp review but, in some ways, even better. It not only shows happy customers, but it also shows others how they can use a certain product and it makes the featured person feel special. This level of engagement can build long-term loyalty.