A while back, I ghostwrote an article for a client that got nearly 10,000 shares.
Some months later, he wrote an article without my help, on the same exact subject. He even referenced the first article at the very beginning.
Except, that article got only 2,000 shares.
Now, in many contexts, 2,000 shares would be amazing. But this was on the tails of nearly five times that many. The subject might have been the same, and yet it received a small fraction of the attention. What was ultimately the difference?
We all know that content has been declared of paramount importance when building a web presence. The content we put out there gets picked up by search engines like Google, and that’s how we create a following. It’s how we create business.
But even more than search engines, content becomes important when actually, you know, building trust with your reader. Look at this article. I promised something pretty big in the title – some ingredient that leads to 10,000 shares. If I don’t actually deliver on this supposed method I used to get such amazing success for my clients, will you actually believe in my value as a resource for you? Will you keep wanting to read my stuff? Probably not.
I’ve actually had multiple clients get those kinds of results with the content I’ve helped them to put together, including over 9,000 likes and shares for content on the Huffington Post. Each of these articles ultimately has something in common. Each of them has something that nearly all of the content that shows up in my inbox every day doesn’t have.
Generally, people in thought leadership, information marketing, and non-fiction book publishing all make the mistake that the more information they provide, the better their content will be. This shows up in articles that promise “5 new lessons” about this, “7 growth hacks for that,” or even the “top 30 articles (I) need to read” about something else. That last one was actually lifted from the subject line of an email that’s been sitting in my inbox for six weeks. Why has it been sitting there for six weeks? Because while I think I should read the article, I don’t actually want to. I don’t want to read it because all it is going to do is give me 30 MORE ARTICLES OF READING TO DO.
No one has woken up and hoped that they will read 30 articles about solving a problem that they have. They’ve woken up hoping that they will solve their problem – not having clients, not getting a book deal, needing to lose weight, not yet having met the love of their life. This is what haunts them as they go through their day, not the burning desire to read articles about things. They don’t care about growth hacks, they care about what the growth hacking will get them.
In contrast, the articles I created for my clients that got all those thousands of shares all have something in common: not 5 lessons, 7 growth hacks, or 30 articles – each of them was anchored by a single reason why all of that information was of value.
Consider my client’s two articles from the beginning of this post. He provides dietary guidance, and both articles outlined a list of steps that the reader could do to optimize their health, such as drinking warm water and leaving four to five hours to digest food before going to bed. They both provided this type of information. But the first article that got five times as many shares provided the underlying reason for all of that information: that our health is defined by the strength of our digestion. Both of them provided individual steps that so many information marketers are fond of in their content, or what the reader needs to know. But the more successful article explained why they needed to know it.
Why does this underlying reason of why become so important? In providing content for a reader to consume, we’re looking to empower them to approach a problem differently than they ever have before. We want them to actively play a role in their own experience. By anchoring the reader with the underlying reason why, something happens.
That underlying reason gives them the opportunity to form ideas of their own.
The reader could see my client’s article and think, “I don’t want to do most of that stuff he’s talking about.” If the article only provided information, they would leave it at that. They would bounce. But if they read that our health is defined by the strength of our digestion, they could very easily form their own ideas about how to strengthen it. They could even research that idea on their own.
And when this happens, they are more likely to believe that change is possible.
They are empowered.
The simple truth is that people are empowered not by the information they know is true, but that which they believe is possible. And when you include the underlying reason for your information, they’ll be able to adapt it to their own needs. If they feel empowered in this way, they take an active role in this discovery.
And their first step is usually to share this discovery with others.
Understanding the importance of “why” and actively implementing it in our content are two different things. Click here to watch a free training on how to make this happen for yourself.