Let me paraphrase a Clint Eastwood movie: I know what you’re thinking. Did this article get six thousand shares or only five? Well, I’ve kind of lost count in all this excitement. But, considering this is the Kentico blog, one of the most powerful thought-leadership hubs in the world, and it could blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question. Do I feel plucky? Well, do you punk? And as Dirty Harry tempts you to reach for that click button, you could be falling into that same trap, “I want to look smart, but I don’t have time to read.”
The problem is the way people are determined to make us click that CTA. UX designers pull their hair out trying to find the right combination of color, size, position, and text. So, in a digital society where clicking seems to be a requirement of most things we encounter, we have developed this nervous cyber tick, and we’ll pretty much click anything we encounter.
So, you have to wonder why people keep producing content if people almost automatically share but nobody seems to read it. Can shares alone be enough to spread the word? In fact, according to the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation, (59%) of the URLs mentioned on Twitter are not clicked at all. Anyone that pours over their Twitter Analytics could tell you a similar or worse story too. But there must be a way to improve upon that, surely? Or have you already stopped reading and I am only writing for the pixies in my head?
As Time magazine explains: “If you’re an average reader, I’ve got your attention for 15 seconds, so here goes: We are getting a lot wrong about the web these days. We confuse what people have clicked on for what they’ve read. We mistake sharing for reading. We race towards new trends like native advertising without fixing what was wrong with the old ones and make the same mistakes all over again.”
On our blog, we realized that we have to be reader first, that means, only write about things that address the audience’s pain. So what is the pain here? A lot of you reading this article, and I have some faith that you are still with me, are bloggers or use social media. That means, you create a lot of content, try to engage with your audience, and bring people to your website to make them loyal customers. Or maybe you are targeting current customers, or new or existing partners. Whatever your goal (please tell me you have one), you want to recruit, engage, and put your elegantly pedicured feet up on the desk and plan your next holiday. Right? Of course you do.
So, there are a few things you need to get right. Number one, the headline. This will get you noticed. But be careful, reveal all your cards in your witty headline and guess what will happen… That’s right, you’ve removed the need for anyone to read further. Sure, you’ll get shared quicker than a flu epidemic but nobody will take notice of what the point and goal of your content was! It’s like going for a first date and agreeing on alimony. All that beautiful content gets missed.
You need people to stay focused. So, you have your catchy headline, a little bit saucy, but tasteful enough to tempt them to continue to the lead paragraph. OK, now this little baby should set out your stall. Show them some of your wares. Let them see the merchandise but only enough that they realize what the content will contain, that’s got them hooked. Then, what reader-focused points it will address, oh they like that! And then hit them with what you will try to resolve, but not how, now they are chomping at the bit. Well, that’s the idea. It’s a still a tricky game, but one you can at least try and influence as you go along.
And in the main part of the content, lead them, make it easy to follow you. Sign post, fact check, raise questions, and gently poke them so they keep their attention focused. It might seem as hard as teaching a goldfish how to recite pi to a thousand decimal places, but you have to keep them engaged. Each piece teasing them on to the next one. Flowing naturally so it is never a struggle to read. Deliver on your promises, build and build until… the climax, or as we know, the conclusion.
The conclusion delivers the answers and recaps on the points, but it still raises the question of doubt. It never concludes fully, I mean, where would be the fun in that? No, it provokes further discussion. Or it places seeds in the minds of the readers. Makes them question what they read, consider it, think how it applies to them. Then you’ve really got them in the palm of your hand. Because, it is not just about making yourself look like a clever clogs, not at all. It’s about them feeling smart because they have an opinion about it. They have been out fighting in that digital field and they want to show you their battle scars. And that’s great. The more they show you, the more engaged they feel, and the more likely they are going to either tell you their opinions at the bottom of the article, and be sure to encourage them to do so, or share it on social media with a comment endorsing its content. Bingo! You’ve managed to avoid that 59% of losers and become the elite 41% instead.
So, over to you. What about your strategies? How closely do you keep an eye on your analytics to know if you are hitting the mark or not? What kind of content do you find performs best? Let me know in the comments section below. And when you share, be sure to add some glowing words of recommendation and toss in a few superlatives too. After all, we’ve got your back, here!☺