Master the Hook: 4 Ways to Keep Your Audience Reading

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Face it; nobody wants to read your blog.

You’re likely just using it to seem relevant, to rank for lucrative keywords, or to have a reason to reach out to your target audience. If blogging weren’t necessary, you probably wouldn’t do it because you likely don’t have anything original to say. 

Do you hate me yet? While you don’t hate me, you’re probably feeling a little defensive. 

“Hey, this guy doesn’t even know me. Where does he get the nerve? Who does he think he is?”

Relax, relax — I’m baiting you. I’m sure your blog is full of lots of original, relevant information. Still, if you don’t grab the attention or emotions of your audience right out of the gate, what I said above is true — nobody will want to read your blog. How do you do this? By mastering “the hook” in your content. Let’s break this down and look at a few techniques you can use to hook readers into reading or viewing till the very end. 

1. Bait Your Audience

Even though you were upset with me saying that nobody wants to read your blog, there’s a part of you that believes it. At the very least, you think that your blog or video channel could use some work in the readership/viewership department. You likely kept reading to find out to see how I know that nobody wants to read your blog and to learn what you can do about it. One approach to hooking your audience is by playing into their insecurities. Lean into their pain points while providing a solution. They probably won't like you at first, but they'll likely want to learn more by the ending.

 While this approach is often successful, it’s best used in moderation. If you use it too often, it will lose its shock value. Your audience also grows tired of being borderline insulted every time they interact with your content. Remember: a little goes a long way.

2. Start with Statistics

Did you know that a new blog is published online every half-second? This doesn’t just mean that you're competing with many articles for attention, but it’s also a fun statistic to use to kick off a piece about blogs. Once readers have been hit over the head with a relevant statistic, there’s an excellent chance they'll stick around to (a) hear additional relevant statistics or (b) learn how this bit of data impacts their work, interests, or beliefs. 

3. Rope Your Audience in with a Good Story

Everyone likes a good story. For content marketing, storytelling helps set the scene and puts your audience in your shoes. This is what we like to call the Story Sandwich. The beginning of your story is the first piece of bread. The meat of the sandwich is the central message of the article or video. The last slice in the sandwich is the conclusion of the piece and the resolution of the story. We enjoy the storytelling approach so much that we wrote a separate article about using storytelling in your marketing content.

4. Begin With the Ending

Fight Club. Pulp Fiction. Saving Private Ryan. Gandhi. Citizen Kane. Big Fish. Forrest Gump. Slum Dog Millionaire. Once Upon Time in America. Snatch. What do all of these movies have in common? They’re all incredible, yes, but they also all begin with intense foreshadowing — they start near the ending. Because the audience is so disorientated, they’re immediately wondering what events led up to this point. This keeps them on the edge of their seat not only to learn what happens next but also to make sense of what they’ve already experienced. By beginning near the resolution of your piece, there’s a good chance that your audience will hang on for the ride if for no other reason than to make sense of it all. They’ll end with a feeling of satisfaction and that much closer to your call to action. 

Think of These Techniques as Seasoning

You may feel that some of these techniques for hooking your audience into your content are manipulative. Though they can feel this way, think of these techniques more like seasoning an otherwise bland dish. They’re not tricks, but rather are tools for keeping the attention of readers and viewers. After all, wouldn’t you rather consume content that keeps you scrolling instead of trudging through a bland piece? Like seasoning, however, make sure to use sparingly for best results. 

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