As a writer, and as someone who works in digital media, I spend a lot of time reading online. For the last few years, it seems like it’s become harder and harder to find good content, and I think that has something to do with how quickly this industry had grown, as well as with the amount of media that has moved from print to digital.
It seems like some of the people managing blogs just want to get the most clickable content out there with minimal effort, leading to headlines like these:
“Lose 5 Inches of Belly Fat With This One Weird Trick”
“Find Out Why Dietitians Hate This Arkansas Mom!!”
And “How ______ Kardashian Lost the Weight in Just 4 Weeks!”
These (mostly made up) headlines are exaggerated examples of click bait, flashy headlines promising to open your eyes to previously unknown wonders, only to lead to a nonsense post with little to no information.
I was starting to wonder if we, as readers and publishers alike, were really going to let media get that bad. Then I came across this article and its accompanying infographic: “The Internet's Most-Read Stories, All In One Chart.”
According to the folks at Fast Company, your internet readers are interested in “More than just cats and Kim Kardashian”:
It turns out that the most-shared articles aren’t fluffy clickbait. Generally, they're pieces that focus on grander themes: kids ("Schools Fail to Train Kids"), extreme wealth and poverty ("The World’s Poorest President," "The Rich Alarmed by Homeless Jesus"), self-improvement ("What Mentally Strong People Avoid," "How Not to Say the Wrong Thing"), God ("Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God"), and death ("Dying on Your Own Terms," "Unmournable Bodies: Those We Kill Unknowingly"). Only some of the most universal aspects of human experience.
The visualization also reveals what types of storytelling are most engaging. Readers shared stories about other people’s lives the most when they were told from an intimate perspective instead of with impersonal statistics.... If it's not a personal, emotionally driven story, then it's probably useful or service-y ("14 Habits That Drain Your Energy") or entertaining ("Justin Timberlake Shows Us How Dumb We Sound When We Use Hashtags").
So, it appears that click bait doesn’t really work. The most-read articles have real information and real value. Many of them have an emotional connection, the value of which we talked about in our last blog post.
This means that to lead readers to your blog and keep them there, you should keep these things in mind:
- Write an eye-catching headline and content that delivers.
- Show your expertise by giving readers information specific to your industry. Make that information more valuable by beefing it up with your individual experience.
- Appeal to the human being (as opposed to Google bot, but that’s another blog post) reading your work. Hint: humans have emotions, which are tied to their experiences!
- Humans also (generally) have a sense of humor, so it usually doesn’t hurt to get a little goofy.
For more on the merits of well-written, informative, and engaging content, head over to Fast Company and Funders and Founders to check out the infographic in full. And if you think your business’s blog could use a little help, check out our copywriting services or give us a shout.