The Psychology of Content- 5 Ways To Reel In Your Audience

 John Tie
  Sep 27, 2018

What content is all about

Content is not just writing a few pages of beautiful language. Without context and without a purpose in mind, you will fail to keep your audience beyond a certain point, and although it might be the hardest you have tried, yours will be an exercise in futility. When businesses look to hire professional content writers, they judge them not on their language alone, but also on their analytical skills and understanding of potential audience. Can you target the audience’s deepest emotions? Their fears, hopes, aspirations, belief systems? Ultimately, legendary copywriters like David Ogilvy and Bernice Bowles were also people who understood their audience and hence had the audacity and dexterity to shape it. That today’s large departmental stores and malls have pretty much replaced the high street as THE place to shop owes a lot to Bowles’ campaign for Macy’s which said “It’s smart to be thrifty”. In one sweeping blow, she had turned the concept of shopping on its head.

Playing the human mind

1. Social identities- Henri Tafagel had come up with the theory of social identity. In essence, this very concept drives the overwhelming majority of human social interactions. In the world of content, understanding the model customer will need the writer to understand the system that the customer is part of. No consumer exists in isolation. The very nature of consumerism is derived from our basic need to connect and interact with other human beings. Remember Christopher Knight, the hermit who lived without human contact for 27 years in the woods around Maine? Is he your target audience? No, right? Ultimately a model consumer’s behavior depends on his/her current and daily social interactions, where he/she works and lives and whom she works and shares his/her everyday life with. That’s it, just 2 basic premises. You get that and the rest of his/her life becomes readable, translatable.

The traditional consumer will almost always be part of a group. If the whole world was a set, then these groups would be little subsets. Most consumers will be part of more than one subset. Some, just one. Very few will be out of all of these, if any at all. The human sense of belonging is a strong one, and from that stem the different social identities one identifies and allies with. As a writer, identifying, understanding and playing to those social identities of your consumer is critical to the success of your message. Remember Trump’s Make America great again” campaign? You may or may not agree with the politics of it, but it is a brilliant example of how identities can be exploited to get the message across.

2. The illusion of frequency – Have you ever looked at an image or come across a word and then found it to be following you everywhere in the next few days, weeks or months. You almost feel stalked by it, don’t you? Well, believe it or not, this is actually a trick used by commercial campaigns. Writers working in well-established organizations which provide professional content writing services know this trick really well.
However, what is this?
And how is it possible for a brand to literally stalk me?

All pertinent questions. Well, this phenomenon is called frequency illusion or if you want to go completely bonkers then the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. Do Google it. So what happens is this. Our mind like a receptor which is continuously picking up data throughout our waking hours, and some even during sleep. Some part of that data is used by the part of the brain which is known as the conscious brain, while the rest are relegated to the subconscious. Well, more or less. Our cognitive ability is nothing but the brain matching the fresh signal with the one that is already stored. Hundreds words, phrases and images we come across daily which we ignore, since they do not form part of our immediate consciousness. However when something strikes us different or relevant for whatever reason, we then start to pick this out of the obscure every subsequent time. It can be a jingle, an image or even a word. The result? We feel as if this is following or stalking us. In reality, you are just noticing it more.

When you are a professional content writer, then you need to know how to get the attention of your target audience. Your content must have highlight something that will strike a chord with the audience and turn his/her attention to something that he/she was hitherto ignoring.

3. Don’t be afraid to go left field- Bling, Banana Republic, Face palm, Photobomb, Selfie- Do you know what these are? They are words that were created….yes, created! someone looking to make a point a point, and who found traditional vocabulary either too insufficient or too apathetic. If your campaign or even your content justifies it, do not be afraid to go completely left-field and play around with the language. Remember, we as individuals exist in the unremarkable and are surrounded by conformism. A little shock and awe goes a long way to get the attention of the other person.

4. Unique and all the same- Do you know that a huge percentage of novels are biographical? As individuals we have a tendency to look at our lives and experiences as unique. Having lived them, we also tend to take a sympathetic view of ourselves in it. Get this, and I am sorry if I am bursting you bubble a bit, but majority of us are pretty much the same. If you share the same demographics with your neighbor, chances are that you will have pretty similar lives. This is how some people, including astrologers, are able to read you so well. And since we are all unique in our minds, we tend to give high ratings to such reviews about ourselves, whereas on close study you will find that the overwhelming majority of people from your social subset (remember the first point) fit into that description. This is called the Barnum Effect. Content writers can use this technique to tailor their content to make it sound personal, with which a majority of your readers are bound to identify. Example- Sometimes, you feel so lonely in the crowd, don’t you?

5. The mind palace- Sherlock fans are well acquainted with this concept. In reality though, this particular trick, which, let’s be frank looked a bit far-fetched in Sherlock, and is used indiscriminately and too conveniently by crime thrillers across the world, is something that good content writers are able to use to influence their readers.

There is a reason why Google is partial to a format where you can tabulate the content into bullet points or subheadings. It is easier for the reader to retain that content over others. In a way you are creating a mind palace ready made for the reader to use.

So there are a few psychological hacks that any content writer can use. Do they guarantee success? Nopes! Hence we also consider talent while hiring professional content writing services, be it in-house or from an offshore vendor in India. However, these tips should help you understand the psyche of the consumer better.

The Psychology of Content- 5 Ways To Reel In Your Audience

John Tie

I am working as a Digital Marketer and content strategist with Virtual Employee, one of the leading Outsourcing Company. I am a versatile tech writer and loves exploring the latest technology trends, entrepreneur, and startup column.

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