This Blog Entry Will Make You Cry

I was sitting down to write this blog and you won’t believe what happened next.  Put simply, this is why you shouldn’t try to outrun a bear.

Okay, I’ll spare you the years of anticipation and hope, and tell you what really happens after you die.

But first, the real point of this post . . . clickbait.  Or when dressed in formal attire for the evening, “social engagement headlines.”

Those tantalizing little phrases wallpapering your Facebook feed.  Funny thing is, they exist because they work.  Well, at least some of them. 

And if you can get past the torment, there may be lessons to be learned about the nature of improving our content engagement for anyone charged with enticing your audience to click, read, or share.

Of course, there’s no magic formula, thank Goodness.  Our craft hasn’t been replaced by robots (yet).

According to social analytics gurus, the number one word phrase that gains the most likes, shares and comments is:

Will make you . . .

Notice that “will make you” does not start or end a headline.  But it does create a link between the content and the consequence to the person reading it.

This explains why setting up a consumer tension and pointing out the potential consequence enjoys its pride of place in the best advertising and marketing.  A phrase like “will make you” can establish why you should care about the content in the first place, while at the same time promising the message will have some kind of impact on you as well.  And depending upon what you book-end it with (that’s our job, after all), it can be effective and elegant.

For example, “BLANK will make you feel better about your daughter’s future.” 

Stay tuned for an emotional reaction, right?  Or, in clickbait parlance, “will give you goosebumps.”

Or “melt your heart.”

Of course, it’s up to us to be careful with sensational language that over-promises and under-delivers, which is why people are wary of clickbait in the first place.

Now, if you’re wondering about the the phrase that gained the LEAST amount of engagement . . . can you guess? 

Only 1 in 50 people can. 

If your curiosity has been sparked, that’s exactly what a good headline should do.  Thus endeth the lesson.

Besides, what Marcia Brady looks like today is really not that jaw-dropping after all.

Mark Smith is the Chief Creative Officer for Upstream 360 and the father of a teenage daughter.  He stays motivated by the twin powers of doubt and insecurity, while his approach to the work is making it legitimately interesting, shareable, and something people can connect with. 


Mark is also an author of the book Innovation Myths and Mythstakes, available in hardcover, paperback, Kindle and coming soon on Audible.