Audience at Tomorrowland. Photo by Mixtribe Photo

At the base of all content marketing initiatives is the desire to attract, acquire and engage a target audience that is clearly defined and understood. This target market segment functions largely as a group - and understanding the dynamics, as well as the psychology of the masses can provide some valuable insights to content marketers.

In this respect, two over bearing aspects of mass psychology that can help content marketers leverage their marketing efforts are:

#1. Mass Psychology Is Largely Concerned With The Primitive, Basal Needs Of The Masses

Sigmund Freud, the founding father of psychoanalysis based his mass psychology theory on the primary concept that individuals unlock their unconscious minds on becoming members of a crowd.

According to Freud, primal emotions become widespread in a crowd. Individuals dethrone their 'super ego' - the moral and critical center of consciousness, and it gets replaced by a larger-than-life crowd leader.

Celebrated psychologists like Serge Moscovici and William McDougall share Freud's interpretation of the mass psychology, with Moscovici expanding on the idea to discuss how dictators like Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong used mass psychology to position themselves as the leader of the "primal horde".

What is in it for content marketers?

KISS - Keep It Simple Silly. Why? Because the general emotion that blankets a crowd degenerates to the least common denominator and hence simpler, more primitive emotions dominate the crowd.

When creating or curating content for mass marketing campaigns keep it simple. Instead of talking facts, figures, numbers and technology - talk about the basal emotions your product serves.

Our forefathers have done it

Among the earliest forms of custom publishing are the cave paintings from 4200 B.C. Historians have largely translated the painting to 'six ways to save yourself from a wild boar using a spear'.

Now that is primitive - survival. Not six ways to carve beautiful wall paintings using a spear, but six ways to save your life using a spear.

Let us consider another shining example of early content marketing - the much acclaimed Michelin Guides from the 1900s. The Michelin Guide contained 400 pages of useful information for motorists in the 1900s including maps, DIY repair and tire changing tips, comprehensive lists of car mechanics, petrol stations, as well as dining and lodging facilities for motorists on the road.

France's first car guide could as well have been about fancy cars, next-gen car technology, the allure of a better future if customers bought cars and so on. Andre Michelin and Edouard Michelin knew what content marketers now sometimes fail to remember - cater to the fundamental questions, meet the basal needs and keep it simple.

#2. Mass Psychology Entails Three Stages, At Each Stage Individuals Want To Harmonize Their Actions With Those Of The Masses.

Another content-marketing relevant mass psychology theory is the one put forward by French social psychologist Gustave Le Bon. According to Le Bon, crowds exist in three levels - the Submergence Stage, the Contagion Stage and the Suggestion Stage.

The Submergence Stage sees loss of personal responsibility and the idea of the individual self on the part of the crowd members. The crowd is anonymous at this stage and individual members comprising the mass lose their characteristic selves.

In the Contagion Stage, individual members forming the mass tend to follow all major prevailing ideas and emotions of the crowd with unquestionable faith. The third level of mass psychology, which is the Suggestion Stage, refers to the final level of mass psychology, where the prevailing emotions and ideas of the crowd are essentially derived from a mutual radical unconscious.

What is in it for content marketers?

Two things - label your customers, they like it, and pull them into a camp.

A mix of the Submergence and Contagion stages, people like being members of a group they commend. The desire to maintain an image that is coherent with the mass they belong to motivates people to take actions.

Making friends in the business is as important as making the right enemies. Masses feel primal emotions and nothing unites like the feeling of animosity. The Mac vs. PC or Pepsi vs. Coke ads exploit the same feeling.

Your brands true voice and unshaken loyalty from customers will emerge only when your brand stands strongly against some thing. Mobs are ruled by powerful emotions and what is best is that you can stand up against an ideology or belief.

A well written piece that incorporates these fundamental emotions will help you reach out to a dedicated group of customers, while identifying with them strongly.