What makes you decide you are going to read an online article? There is so much information available to you on a daily basis, what makes you stop and take the time?
Yesterday, I was helping a small business set up their Facebook business page and we were talking about content for their page. There is so much information available on any subject that you don’t have to write all of it yourself. It is so easy to give the visitors to your page useful information by sharing articles that might be helpful to them. If you use Twitter, there is an endless source of great articles on almost every topic all day.
I have learnt so much through reading blogs and I have got used to the news finding me rather than me having to look for it. BUT and it is a big BUT, there is SO much information! How do you sift through so much data without becoming saturated? You have to be good at evaluating!
You can only cope with a certain amount of information; in fact your brain is continually filtering out information out all the time. Your brain will only remember about 1% of everything you input into it. Nobody has the time to read everything, so we develop processes to sift things quickly.
Have you ever thought about how quickly you make decisions online? If the headline doesn’t capture your attention instantly, you don’t read the rest! You may be missing out of the best piece of literature ever created, but in a nanosecond that decision is made. As you read the headline or Tweet you are evaluating, sorting, figuring and redirecting information based on sequences and relationships. Wow! Your brain does all this in a split second unconsciously. So what gets your attention?
Interest- If you are interested in a subject, you will notice when a word relating to the topic is mentioned. The word will almost jump out at you.
Surprise – Something unexpected or shocking always get our attention. I couldn’t resist the headline “Do you eat your own dog food?”
Humour - Anything makes us laugh, makes us stop for a while. Funny headlines make us smile and feel good and slow down, so we are more likely to read on. There is fun in the pun!
Familiar – If we recognise the person who has written the article, we are more likely to read it. Also if we recognise the pattern, i.e. the headline is similar to a song, well-known quote or rhyme we are more likely to pay attention.
Engagement – We pay attention when we think that the headline is directed to us. Even though we know that the author doesn’t know us, the word “you” is very powerful especially when it is in a question. If we find ourselves answering “yes” to the question, we are going to at least read the first paragraph.
If you write anything online, you have to be aware that most people are not going to take the time to stop to read it, so you have to grab the reader’s attention immediately (or at least make you headline the type of question that someone would type into Google). If you are reading this sentence, the headline worked ! If you are interested in learning how to gain attention in a second, you will be interested in the course I am running with Tom Evans in Surrey.
To find out more about the course, click here –> You have only 1 Second