Firstly, thanks for actually clicking on this article. It’s a post that would have worked significantly less well if it had been left sitting on zero views. Content Strategy is a blend of common sense, psychology and a little bit of magic (some things work for reasons we don't fully understand - for now that means it's magic, eventually it'll be science).
Now, without further ado, let me get on with outlining the 7 reasons that could have brought you to this point.
1. The title is framed as having knowledge to impart to you.
A title like ‘7 Reasons why you clicked on this article’ will elicit different responses from different people.
You might have taken it as being incredibly cocky because of the assumption that you would click on this article. If that’s the case then I’ve successfully annoyed you into doing the thing you were annoyed about me thinking you were going to do. Don’t dwell on that too much (it’s too confusing), the basic principle is that I sparked an emotional reaction.
Alternatively, you might have been intrigued. After all, I’m effectively offering to tell you something about yourself that you might be surprised that I would know… even though it’s the kind of thing that I really should know.
Is that really a thing? Well, somebody once said to me that they “live each day as if they might die tomorrow, because life is too short.” I asked who they’d lost who was close to them. They looked at me as if I’d stared into their soul. Rather than as if I simply have a basic grasp of human psychology.
Of course, you might be a professional working in marketing or advertising, and you’re just looking for some professionally useful insights.
2. The title of the post has a number in it. It's Content Strategy voodoo!
Ah… where would we all be without BuzzFeed to turn to for learnings? The site that took over the internet has shown us all the impact of adding numbers to article titles.
Why does that have an impact though? Well, it could be two things (or a combination thereof). One is that we’re constantly told how time-starved we are, so having an idea of how long this article might be before you clicked on it could have moved your thumb towards it instead of a longer article.
The other option is value. By offering “7 reasons” I lured you in with 7 potential takeaways from this article, while another piece competing for your attention could potentially have left you with nothing at the end of it (other than having killed a bit of time).
Also, since this post was first published a few people have flagged the particular quirk that odd-numbered posts tend to generate more clicks than even numbered ones. Why? Answers on a postcard.
(Don't actually submit your answers by postcard. It kinda undermines the whole digital marketing thingummy.)
3. You already know or know of the author.
Let’s overlook the fact that if you do know me you may have already been beaten into submission by my previous articles. If you know me but you’ve still clicked on this post then there are two possibilities.
The first is that you know me enough to assume that there will be a level of quality, insight and value to be had from this article.
The second is that you know me enough to not rate me and are reading this solely to confirm that view. See any newspaper’s online comments section for confirmation that this kind of click is a real thing.
4. You don’t know the author but somebody you do know has shared or like this.
What do we do when need a plumber or an electrician? We go onto Facebook and ask if anyone has a recommendation for a good one. That’s because we trust our friends. You may be someone who considers yourself utterly impervious to clickbait titles… but if someone you share a personal or professional outlook with seems to approve of my ramblings then you’ve probably decided to give this post a try.
5. It’s been added to a relevant channel that you follow.
I have no idea if that’s happened or not. Given the squeeze that Linkedin seems to be applying to published posts on the platform and the idea that people need to ‘hack’ the Pulse algorithm, it seems unlikely. You never know though.
Possibly you’re following the Marketing & Advertising channel because it’s relevant to your career and interests. Possibly this article has been added to that, giving a signal to you that it’s likely to be relevant to you.
Think about when you’re browsing on Amazon – who doesn’t have a look at the ‘recommended for you’ or ‘other people also bought’ suggestions? You’re looking for things that seem to have been selected specifically for you and your interests.
6. Sheer serendipity.
This is something that people in marketing and advertising don’t like to acknowledge too much. People on the planning side like to imagine that the success of a campaign piece comes down to their meticulous thinking. The creatives like to believe that it comes down to our beautiful shaping of copy or design. The unfortunate reality is that you may just have stumbled across this article by some random slip of circumstance. Let’s not dwell on this one though, my ego just can’t handle it.
7. You just liked the photo.
It’s taken me six goes but I got there in the end, didn’t I?
Teddy Craig was a stand-up comedian for 16 years before moving into the Marketing world. He is now Community Manager at The Lane. He has created successful social media content for top UK and global brands and also advises on content strategy.
His tweets have been featured by The Sun, The Metro, The Independent, The Herald, The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and The Huffington Post. Still active in writing for BBC Radio, he was nominated for 'Best Writer' at the 2016 Scottish Comedy Awards.
Photo by My Photo Journeys and used under Creative Commons licence.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.