Neuromarketing applied to Content Marketing: how to produce content that connects?

Just know a little bit about how the brain works and design a content strategy that activates the minds and hearts of your followers

Maybe you’ve heard about the importance of engaging your audiences well on digital channels to transform them from followers to customers like Blue World City, right? What you may have never heard is that this means arousing sensations in people.

Laughter, surprise, nostalgia, joy, tears and even gnashing of teeth are some of the emotions that the content must seek to connect with the audience. When none of these reactions are triggered, the content will likely fall into limbo – the fate of those that generate no interaction, let alone sales.

Neuromarketing is a shortcut to arouse sensations and make interesting content that stands out from the crowd and captures the mind and heart of your potential audience. And it’s simpler than it looks!

Neuromarketing = Neuroscience + Marketing

The fusion between Neuroscience and Marketing leads to the concept of Neuromarketing, which lends itself to understanding the chemical reactions of the brain, especially during the moment of purchase.

This study was made possible by the advent of technologies that make it possible to observe brain activity in real-time and to correlate neurological events with consumption behavior.

Love, hate, smiles and tears are products of chemical reactions that take place in the human brain when faced with certain stimuli. This happens, too, while viewing posts or watching videos on social media!

Therefore, the difference between a content being ignored or liked, commented on and shared is in the reactions it arouses in the human brain.

Key questions about the brain

Contrary to what many may think, understanding the basics of brain structure is not exclusive to neuroscientists or neurologists. With this, it is now possible to add refinement and effectiveness to the contents that make up our digital channels.

Our brain is a cluster of cells carrying electrical signals that work in neural networks. Thus, it is not by chance that it is the most complex cognition machine of all nature.

However, there are areas that are specialized in specific functions and that divided didactically can help to understand the working mechanism of the brain. And, as a result, help decipher human behavior.

Brain stem

The brainstem is the region associated with the species’ survival and reproduction instincts. It is considered the ancestral part of the Central Nervous System.

Here, there are instinctive neurological reactions, which lead us to involuntary actions and which are essential for the preservation of life. Among them are hunger, thirst, mating instinct and socialization.

This layer is what makes us jump when we hear the ambulance siren, and what makes us run in threatening situations.

Limbic system

The limbic system is the region where emotions and memories are processed. 

Most limbic reactions are unconscious, that is, they happen without our conscious awareness that they are being processed.

Cerebral neocortex

The neocortex is the brain region responsible for the rational cognitive system and that completely differentiates us from other animal species.

If we find that the four seasons of the year correspond to the planet Earth’s turns around the sun, it is because we are able to correlate events. Thus, we can look for explanations that justify these events.

The brain of a dog is not endowed with the same capacity, precisely because the neocortian region is poorly developed in these animals. Neurological reactions in the neocortex region are mostly conscious, and help us to perceive the world in a Cartesian and logical way.

How can understanding how the brain works can lead us to create more interesting content?

As we understand key questions about how the brain works, we also understand that most neurological reactions occur below our threshold of consciousness.

That is, the conscious mind is the tip of the iceberg of our mental processes, while the far greater part of what drives our behaviors is hidden.

Freud’s speculations, made before the advent of technology that allows us to see images of the brain at work, we’re right. In fact, we don’t know the origin of our own choices, as they start from unconscious regions of the brain.

Our brains constantly use information from the environment to guide our behavior. However, often these influences do not pass through our consciousness.

Our actions obey these unconscious perceptions more than our reason.

And that’s why digital content can play a key role in leading the customer to choose our brand, product or company.

All content that the customer sees or watches on social media exerts what we call a priming effect on the brain, unconsciously interfering with their decisions.

Priming effect

Priming effect occurs when something (which can be a word, an image, an aroma, a song, a voice, a light, a physiognomy, a taste, etc…) influences the perception of another. For example, if we are in a smelly environment, we may make tougher decisions or make more hostile judgments about other people’s attitudes or about certain situations or products.

Anyone who works with Digital Marketing cannot forget that online environments also influence (a lot) our susceptible brain to produce sensations. Without the emotions, which are tied to our memories or unconscious sensations, it is impossible to choose anything.”

Whether we decide to buy or save, both depend on what we feel and experience about spending the amount to get something or saving the money, running out of the product. And that’s emotion.”

The only way to influence our customers’ decisions – and thereby align them with the rational goals they may have – is to improve the quality of the feelings they will have about our products. The content, in addition to informing, also has the role of provoking favorable feelings at the time of purchase.⠀ ⠀

Stimulating neurotransmitters

Those who want to improve the user experience through their digital channels must create content capable of stimulating memories and producing emotions. And emotional memories happen due to the action of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Modernly called neuro regulators, these chemicals are capable of modifying the way we interpret reality. Smart marketing can flood the customer’s brain with two precious neurotransmitters: dopamine and oxytocin.

It is the dopamine that motivates you to swipe your credit card on a purchase. This neurotransmitter is released when we have sex, eat sugar, or solve a problem. And also when we want a new outfit!

Feelings of belonging to a tribe or desire for social sharing are linked to the secretion of oxytocin in the central nervous system. This is the neuroregulator of confidence. As we know, nobody makes a purchase without feeling confident in the brand, the company, the product or the seller.

That’s why, when a friend recommends a restaurant or a movie to us, we rush to try it. Because our past experiences with this friend have already established bonds of trust, which resulted from the action of oxytocin.

Content = Information + Experience

Dopamine is also secreted when we learn new skills or absorb information. It is very common to hear that we are in the information and knowledge age. The truth is that we’ve gained speed with digital possibilities, but information and knowledge have always been at the center of human brain attention since Paleolithic times.

For our ancestors, the more knowledge about a certain region, hunting animal habits or about an enemy tribe, the greater the chances of survival. Thus, the development of society around the availability of information is a consequence of Homo sapiens’ own instincts to survive and dominate the environment.

Therefore, the greed for information is nothing more than a biological process. Like the information, the experience was also rampantly replicated by social media.

We are also experimental animals. This is what guarantees us the formation of memories to be used at specific times, ensuring better conditions for survival.

When we combine information with experience, two essential pieces to stimulate dopamine and oxytocin, we arrive at neurocontent.

Meme, the neurocompatible content

Almost everyone thinks they know what a meme is. Or at least think that meme is a little joke that circulates on the internet, almost always virally. The term “meme” was described by Richard Dawkins long before the internet existed, in his 1976 book “The Selfish Gene”.

When influencers get people to buy the cosmetics and clothing they wear, replicating behavior can be considered memetic contamination. We can say that the person used the experience of others as a source of information and this changed consumption behavior.

I, Rejane Toigo, Expert RD, also have my own definition: “Meme is a neurocompatible content”.

If a meme is all information that can change behavior, someone who transmits mass information through social networks is also a memetic agent. Here, we can include influencers, but also brands, companies and memetic content issuers.

The role of content is to infect the user’s mind and cause a change in behavior. Therefore, it is necessary for the content issuer to have clear objectives. It needs to generate a specific and desired modification in the behavior of the web viewer, otherwise, there is no point in making a content viral. That’s why not every meme will work with all kinds of people.

Primordial particle of content: DNA

Content strategy is an infection strategy. And the first part of our infection strategy is the content DNA. I know, you’ve probably heard that the first part of a content strategy starts with the persona. Yes, a good understanding of the pains and desires of our ideal client is essential.

No content will infect every type of person. There are immune minds and minds predisposed to adhere to the ideas we propose. That’s why the persona definition exercise is a fundamental step in the strategy.

But it’s not the first. It works more or less like biological DNA: each individual has its own, unique, primordial pillar of all the organism’s processes. And this DNA was recreated from the joining of genetic material from ancestors, cultural interferences and interaction with the environment, to recreate a unique sequence of information.

A business needs to be clear about its DNA, so that it can be replicated in all the dynamics of the enterprise, including digital content. Just like people, companies are made of stories and were born long before the CNPJ.

They spring from an idea, a meme that initially permeates a group of minds and then spreads through the brand, services or products.

After the DNA, we go to the definition of the personas and editorial lines. And to create a positioning capable of stimulating dopamine and oxytocin, we still need to add the essential elements of the neurocompatible content when producing this content.

Neurocompatible content is content that attracts, connects, engages and sells. And to achieve these desirable effects, it has some fundamental characteristics: having neurofluidity, being sharable, stimulating oxytocin, containing humor, being accompanied by a neurotext.

The essential elements of neurocompatible content

1. Neurofluidity

Content needs to be easy to understand. It takes the brain a few seconds to decide whether it’s worth stopping and reading an Instagram post or whether to keep scrolling. In his acclaimed “Fast and Slow,” Daniel Kahnemann divided the brain into two systems: the fast system, called system 1, and the slow system, called system 2.

We use system 1 for everyday functions, like calculating 1+1, and system 2 for complex tasks, like calculating 45×18. It is for system 1 that we must make content. If it is not fluid and fast, or is assimilated by system 1 of the brain, the tendency is for the content to be solemnly ignored.

2. Metaphorical Images

A picture says a thousand words, right? When we use metaphors, we explore the references and memories that people already bring with them and surprise them, producing new meanings.

Metaphorical and unpublished images are capable of revealing complex concepts and important messages very quickly. That is, they are able to tell stories to system 1, which with words, would only be understood through system 2.

3. Shareable content

Shareable content can generate a quick memetic infection. This applies to social networks, blogs, videos and other digital channels and formats that may arise. We don’t know what the social network of tomorrow is.

What we do know is that we need to create content capable of generating an irresistible desire to show it to yours. Content that makes people want to show it to more people, replicating the reach of that message many times.

One way to produce shareable content is to talk to the mirror neuron. Do you know what makes you yawn when you see someone yawning on the other side of the screen? It’s the fault of the mirror neuron, a specialized structure located in the prefrontal cortex that generates the inconsolable imitation reflex. It activates the motor regions of the brain even when we are not moving.

Watching people eating makes you hungry. Watching people dancing makes you want to dance. And watching people crying generates emotion. That’s why gifs and “boomerangs” hold our attention, for a moment in a hypnotic way. Why are we responding to mirror neuron action? Media that trigger them can make one content stand out from the rest.

4. Oxytocinized media

Do you know what people engage the most on social media? Human babies and cute little animal puppies. This warmth we feel when watching videos of lion cubs has a neurological origin, it is the evolutionary effect of oxytocin.

Oxytocin is released into the mother’s brain so that she feels impelled to breastfeed and provide for her baby. It is also released into the father’s brain so that it contributes to the family’s needs. In the baby and child, oxytocin promotes trust in parents, all this to enable better chances of survival for this family, and consequently for the species.

Therefore, oxytocinized media can prepare the brain for trust in the brand. Actions that contribute to the protection of animals or help needy children can lead to the establishment of bonds of consumer trust in the company.

These factors can act as a priming, predisposing the brain to decide for one brand or another, most of the time without being aware of the reasons that interfere in this decision.

5. Mood

Laughter can transform our mood in a few seconds. Laughter stimulates the secretion of serotonin, a neuroregulator responsible for the feeling of well-being. Studies show that laughing is capable of decreasing the production of cortisol and adrenaline, hormones responsible for the state of stress.

Other studies on the collective effect of laughter concluded that we can laugh up to 30 times more when we are with friends than when we are alone. This explains why humor is the most shared type of content on social media.

In addition to feeling well-being and wanting to share it with our peers, when we send a joke to friends, we simulate in our minds that we are laughing with them, which enhances the feeling of well-being.

If the company’s DNA includes the use of humor in communication, it is absolutely valid to make use of this resource, as the infective power of funny content is quite high.

6. Neuro-text

These are texts that speak to system 1 of the brain, meaning they are easy to understand. This is what we call fluid texts. Short sentences, unusual terms, metaphors and stories are some of the characteristics of texts with rapid assimilation.

I also teach my writers how to reduce the amount of verbs, leaving the text cleaner and more synthesized. The excess of repeated words can also make a text dull and uninteresting, so whoever writes can usually resort to the thesaurus

It is also important to create texts with movement, capable of triggering a motor action in the reader. For example, a text demonstrating the importance of correct posture when holding a smartphone can cause the user to change position at the same time as they are using the mobile phone.

See how easy it is to make content that connects with neuromarketing?

Nobody needs to be an expert in programming languages, tools or even in Portuguese. All you have to do is know a little bit about how the brain works and design a content strategy that activates the minds and hearts of your followers.

Rejane Toigo is an RD Expert, NeuroMarketing Specialist and CEO of Like Marketing  – Platinum Agency in the RD Station Partner Program. Discover Digital Marketing solutions from Like Marketing and more than 1,700 agencies to support your business on RD Marketplace.