Rachel Klaver is a marketing strategist for her company Identify Marketing.
OPINION: Count three seconds. This is all the time you have for someone to decide whether you continue reading your content or not.
If you managed to catch someone’s attention long enough to get them to give you this photo, you need to convince them to stay within the next three seconds. No matter how amazing your content is, how long you’ve been on it, or how smart you are, your content consumption sits on a lousy three seconds.
(I share your pain here. This goes for the columns too. The title, image, and opening lines should entice you to read.)
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If you can perfect the hook, you will see more consumption of your content. Of course, the hook has to be followed by good material and a decent call to action to see growth. If you have good content and no growth, it may be a hook problem. Often the only difference between great content with lots of views and great content with few is that captivating start.
There are three main types of hooks. These make them curious, share with empathy, and tell them exactly what to expect. Most of us tend to have a preferred method if we use a hook, but it’s best to use all three types to engage your audience at different stages of the customer journey.
My favorite is telling them what to expect. I love to start with “Five types of hooks you need to use next week” or “The one thing you need to perfect this year”.
When you mention a number, people often watch the video or read a message to mentally count all the points. If they found the first three useful, they’ll stick around for the last four. It’s also a great way to provide a large amount of targeted information.
Using empathy helps people feel connected with us. Using personal journeys helps people see that we understand their needs. Using this type of hook highlights that you are in a place they want to be and can guide them through it. For example, “If you’re stressed about split ends in your hair, this is for you” or “If your tax bill is keeping you up at night, this is for you.”
Curiosity is one of the most difficult hook types to use. It doesn’t even need to be spoken or written. A meme item or unusual image can be a curiosity hook. Just like an unexpected move at the start of a video or you in an unexpected outfit (I have a road cone costume for that very purpose. And I’m not afraid to use it.)
Curiosity can also be expressed by adding doubt to their information, “You won’t believe what I learned about…” or “Guess what I just found out about…”.
Brackets add character to your content and help people determine if you’re speaking and communicating the way they want. It’s designed to keep your audience watching or reading. A good hook will also make your content more shareable with others.
Figuring out what kind of hooks to use for your content can take a bit of trial and error. The easiest way to start is to ask a question. Write your message. Then think of a question people might ask about this content. Put that at the top of your message.
If you can’t think of a question, use a tool like socratesanswers.com. You can put in a topic, change the search to New Zealand, and find all the questions people search for in Google around that topic. Ask the question, then answer it.
You can also state a problem that you know your ideal customers have and then solve it for them. It is also a simple hook to use. Think about the questions your customers ask you. These are the problems that you can solve with this method.
With both you can also use a listicle. A listicle is a series of facts listed directly or with some explanation behind them.
Being boring can also help! Or rather, expressing a polarizing opinion can help people pay attention. It can sometimes attract the wrong kind of attention, so only use if you feel strong enough to take it.
Sometimes a strong quote or a clever fact can help grab people’s attention. For example, did you know that the art of competition was an Olympic sport in the 1940s? What a great opening for an art studio, artist or creator to use. Your quote can be famous or something you made up. As long as it sticks, it works. I used this with my saying, “Be a goat in a tree”.
If all else fails, start with the word “imagine” and see where that takes you.
Hooks can bring more people to your content. Of course, the next step is to keep them there. Try a few in your content over the next few weeks and see what happens? How addicting can you get your audience?
Rachel Klaver is a marketing strategist, specializing in lead generation and content marketing. She owns Identity Marketing, which works with businesses to create the strategy they need to better tell their story to the right people.