According to BBC News, The City Reporter, a Russian website, says it lost two-thirds of its readers after deciding to publish only good news. Not enough significance or conflict.
Most website content gets ignored – it is simply not interesting enough. This post describes multiple ways to make improvements.
Popular, effective, content will often employ one or more of the elements described below. To improve your organisation’s digital content, check that it draws on one or more of these concepts:
1) Significance: Anticipate the questions your audience will ask, and the answers they will need. The higher the proportion of your audience asking the same question about an issue or event, the greater the impact of the story. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is useful when thinking about significance.
2) Topicality: The news is new.
3) Utility: Useful content gets used.
4) Prominence: Feature the already famous.
5) Proximity: What’s nearby is interesting.
6) Conflict: Conflict is drama. Drama attracts attention.
7) Bizarreness: The unexpected attracts attention.
8) Delight: Be entertaining (only consistently possible if you truly know point 1) – What’s significant to your audience).
9) The basics: Information selection (within a web page, for example), and tone of voice, should reflect brand values and a corporate mission statement, if applicable.
10) Seeing the world in a new light: This can be a sub-category of 8) Delight – but it’s a fundamental, powerful device. Storytellers such as Malcolm Gladwell and Rory Sutherland use “challenging conventional wisdom” to create a powerful story. See also: The Index of the Interesting, by Murray Davis.
Note: This list is a work in progress – it will change to reflect my thinking and research. The latest addition to the list is delight.
Bonus: Here’s some insightful humour about point 4 – Prominence. From Maria Bamford’s album Ask Me About My New God!:
“…I do worship celebrities, because they’re very powerful, their moods create weather. I was feeling bad about it, and then I was like, ‘Well of course, I’m just a tiny, frightened animal. I’m gonna look towards the most powerful and fertile-appearing of our species for information on how to survive. I need to find out what that Jennifer Aniston is doing. She’s a strong, sexy monkey. She’s going to tell us where all the bananas are located.”
Content distribution: Seven ways to create social media campaigns, and content, that gets shared
Further information, elsewhere
In the book, The News: A User’s Manual, Alain de Botton outlines the archetypes behind news stories
News values – Wikipedia
‘Good news day’ decimates website’s readership