As the web gets flooded with content creators, attention has become scarce, and as a result far more valuable than it’s ever been. It’s also tougher to get then it’s ever been. You have no choice but to tug at the heart strings of your audience, capture and lead their imagination and take them on a journey to a destination. According to Sally Hogshead we must fascinate the people who come in contact with us, or we risk losing their attention.
So how do you fascinate people?
1. Provoke an emotional response
No one tunes in for tame opinions. – Sally Hogshead
Do you write in a way that provokes an emotional response? An emotional response doesn’t necessarily have to be positive. You can make people laugh, cry, or even make them angry. One of the easiest ways to provoke an emotional response from people with your content is to have a strong opinion. Of course when you have an opinion you’re going to make some people angry, but the people who you resonate with will become even more fascinated with you.
My friend Paul Jarvis doesn’t care at all about SEO. Imagine what kind of a response that would generate if it had been published here at Search Engine Journal, where many of the long time readers have made their living doing SEO work. It would definitely cause quite a conversation.
In order for this to be effective you can’t just provoke people for no reason. The goal is not to be a digital train wreck. You have to be provocative with a purpose.
2. Create Advocates and Cause a Conversation
Are people talking about your blog, brand or business with each other. In any community that is truly thriving, there is just as much, if not more conversation taking place between the community members as much as there is the community leaders.
By creating an event like the World Domination Summit, Chris Guillebeau has turned The Art of Non-Conformity into a full blown movement. 3000 people are expected to attend this year, and it’s a conversation that takes place around his brand by advocates of the brand.
3. Cultivate Mystique
If you look at the Facebook page or Instagram feed of author Danielle Laporte, you’ll see that she’s always talking about what she’s working on. But she does it in a way that makes the people who follow her constantly wonder what’s coming next. She shares wireframes, design sketches, and other teasers of her next project. At the moment she’s launching a magazine and for the last several months she’s been teasing the audience, leaving them anticipating the day it comes out. This cultivates mystique.
I recently announced my very first conference, The Instigator Experience. The page doesn’t tell you much other than that it will be in the spring of 2014. The lack of too many details has been intriguing to some people and as a result even people who may not attend have signed up just out of curiosity.
Some basic things you can do to cultivate mystique:
Give people a preview of something you’re working on. Hollywood does this constantly with their movie trailers. When we see a trailer we start to anticipate what’s coming
- Share a book cover
- Share a paragraph from a book
- Put a picture of a wireframe on Instagram
Tease your audience, make them want more, and keep them wondering what’s coming next.
4. Incorporate Prestige
For anybody who is an aspiring or even well know public speaker, speaking at TED is one of the pinnacles of achievement. It’s an exclusive group and to be chosen is a prestigious accomplishment. I jokingly say that I’m working on curing cancer so that I can be invited to speak at TED.
The Summit Series is another event that taps into prestige. The hefty price tag and a crowd that includes the who’s who of the the world we live in today make it one of the premier events of the year.
You’re not going to become the next TED and you may not have the deep pockets required to create the summit series. So how do you incorporate prestige into what you do online.
- Create exclusive invite only experiences for your readers. If you’re launching a product or releasing a book, reach out to a group of 20 early readers.
- Have an Invite only Forum/Community: If you’re familiar with Skull and Bones, you know that it’s an invite only secret society. Former presidents and elite members of society are all rumored to members. As you can see they’ve combined mystique and prestige. Build an exclusive mastermind group of your peers.
- Make People Jump Through Hoops to Work With You: While this might seem a bit counterintuitive, we tend to value things that are harder to acquire.
- If you have a conference, incorporate an application process. This will not only raise the prestige of what you’re doing, but you’ll eliminate anybody who would bring down your prestige.
So now you have to ask yourself, are you prestigious? Are you Walmart or Nordstrom when it comes to your online brand?
5. Build Trust
Trust is one of the most difficult ways to create a fascinating brand, but also one of the most rewarding. The internet is littered with false promises of easy money making formulas and shortcuts to success. In a world this noisy, honesty is what we trust. But to cultivate that kind of trust takes a long time and long term vision is one of the pillars of a thriving community. The team at Buffer has taken trust to a whole new level. If you work at Buffer, you know the salaries of every other employee. That kind of transparency, while radical results in an incredible level of trust.
The key to cultivating trust is to be honest to a fault. Nothing will cause you to lose trust faster than pretending to be something your’e not. If you’re unable to accomplish something be upfront about it. If you’ve failed at something, don’t be afraid to let the world know. In a world with so much noise, honesty and imperfection are the only thing that people truly trust.
So now you have some questions to ask yourself? Are you fascinating to your readers or customers? Or are you boring them to death. If it’s latter, then maybe you need to pickup a copy of Sally’s book and make some changes.