From MuscleMeds Secret Sauce for muscle growth and recovery activation, Kathy Terrill’s Secret Sauce for eBay Sales, Christine Hassler’s Secret Sauce Mastermind Program and even McDonald’s secret sauce for its Big Mac, you hear about top secret stuff everywhere. Secret sauces are the rage.
Your blog needs it secret sauce, too. Captivating your audience depends upon it.
Know Your Purpose—Empathy.
Pushing Social’s Stan Smith claims the real secret sauce for a blog is ‘reader empathy.’ He says you should step into your “reader’s place and identify what is annoying them.” You want your reader (or viewer when the content is video) to feel you’re talking with them, not at them.
If you believe your blog is primarily there to promote you, it will become the opposite of tasty! Recognize that 10 out of 12 blogs must be sauced up with value to your audience if you want to keep them captive.
Your blog’s first purpose is to provide value to the audience you’re serving. Talk about the things that matter to your audience. When you do bring your service or product into focus, align your approach to what transforms their lives.
Your ability to do this begins with knowing at least one person in your audience as thoroughly as possible.
- Know the name (and possibly gender).
- Understand this person’s responsibilities.
- Factor in background and education.
- Account for preferred learning styles.
Once you’ve chosen the person you are reaching out to, you need to consider one more element—how happy is this person with where they are today? Are they contented, yet always pushing toward a higher proficiency? Are they miserable and seeking a way out?
Now you’re ready to prepare content that’s centered around one of these enquiries—not all the questions you could ask. Build your message so it creates positive excitement while alleviating the anxieties associated with the answers you offer.
Consider Amy, a woman who has chosen to put her career as a researcher on hold to have a baby. Her primary responsibility is to care of this baby. She’s an educated woman, considering options for bringing in an income while she’s out of the workforce. She prefers learning through a combination of reading, video and audio. She’s happy with where she is; however, she’s fearful of losing relevance.
If Amy is your target, your blog should focus on providing content that helps her stay current on research and research techniques within her field. You should do this through a range of mediums, so she is able to choose the medium that best fits a life that’s scheduled around the irregularities caused by an infant.
Focus on Your Titles.
Start with curiosity inspiring titles.
Seth Adam Smith did just that when he wrote: “Marriage Isn’t For You.” Shared by 1.8 million Facebook users, it led to features in The Huffington Post, women’s magazines, television stations and newspapers.
Consider the element of the forbidden.
When Gina Trapani published her post “How to Crack a Wi-Fi Network’s WEP Password with BackTrack,” she tapped into the curiosity even the most ethical have about how the bad guys do their stuff. Besides, who hasn’t forgotten their Wi-Fi password and found themselves locked out of their own network? A title like that’s a magnet because it offers a solution to a problem.
Pick up a hot topic for your tribe.
Is there a buzz phrase in your community? Give it an unusual tweak. That’s what Derek Halpern did. He earned nearly 2000 social shares with “Content is King Myth: Debunked.” He backed his claims with research.
This approach—taking a controversial stance on a topic—attracts attention, says Brittany Bullen of Smartblogger.com. But more than this, it also makes every person who shares the post look like a thought leader.
This technique works especially well if you choose your topic to ride on the momentum of other thought leaders holding the opposite view. Halpern contacted publishers who had written on his topic, letting them know he had research that contrasted with the existing publications. This got them discussing his position.
Juxtapose unexpected ideas within your title.
When Julie Neidlinger combined color theory, psychology and marketing in her title, “Color Psychology in Marketing,” she became a thought leader, tapping into questions every marketer asks—especially when their choosing color schemes for website and their brand. She added the component of science to her message, making what she had to say even more plausible.
Optimize Your Content.
Create content people feel good about sharing.
In addition to generating curiosity, the title of Seth Adam Smith’s post also made a statement many readers believe. They could feel good sharing the content attached to the title. That’s important for going beyond captivating your audience to turning them into your agents for going viral.
Present your message visually.
With a title like “Here’s a Quick Way to Get More Likes On Your Facebook Page,” you might not expect it to go viral—after all, so many people promise their method’s going to do this for you. What made the difference for Scott Ayres is simple—he was speaking from a respected platform, AND he created an attractive infographic to convey the information.
Make your introductory paragraphs positive.
Proven analyzed 5,000 HR posts from 15 HR blogs. They discovered that the top viral articles all shared one thing in common. They had positive article titles and the opening content of the blog tapped into positive emotions such as curiosity, amazement, interest and astonishment. They even found spiritual words displayed the strongest potential for influence.
Does that seem like more than three ingredients? There really are only three main ingredients you work with. Start with your purpose/audience. Mix up your titles so they resonate with a variety of tastes. And then produce content that serves both the audience and the title. Captivating your audience is truly that simple.