When it comes to short form storytelling (like a blog post or animated video), there is a pretty standard path to follow. Start with a hook, follow it up with supporting information, and end with a call to action. However, commonly we find that the focus of content is on the supporting information rather than the hook or call to action. For better or worse, neurological studies have evidenced that emotions create more action than logic. Whether that makes you feel a wee bit disappointed in humanity or not, it is why, when it comes creating successful content, having emotional impact is key. That is what your hook is for.
A hook is an attention-getting intro to an article, video, infographic, blog, or other content type and it is irresistibly interesting or has heavy emotional impact. Hooks can tell a story or the hook can be the title.
Here are five tested and easy ways to hook your audience.
- Introduce a problem but follow it up immediately with a solution.
I like to call this the boosnuggle approach, where we scare our audience with a striking statistic or dramatic claim and then comfort them with an actionable solution. This is probably the most common hook in advocacy content.
“By 2027, nearly ⅔ of the world may be living in water deprivation. But it’s not too late. Every-day actions, like monitoring your water usage, can stop this from happening. Here are a few of the most impactful actions you can take today...”
Suggest a surprise.
Buzzfeed discovered you can use these in clickbait titles: “You’ll never guess what this mother found in her son’s ear.” But classically, surprise or shock hooks work really well to intrigue your audience to engage further in the content. Be aware, though, that the payoff needs to be good or you run the risk of linking your campaign with disappointment.
Ex: “Chemical transportation is highly regulated. So you can imagine our surprise when the shipment of methanol that was headed to Antigo, never showed up. You’ll never guess where it went.”
Tell a very short, impactful story.
Not only can storytelling create rapport with your audience, it gives the following information more value because the audience knows you have a personal investment in the information. You tend to find this hook most often in blog examples.
Ex: “I wanted to apologize for bringing it up but now it’s too late. ‘You’re right,” she said, her frail hands shaking as they clutched the gravy boat, ‘Your father and I love you very much, but we don’t have any medical information about your biological parents.’ The next semester I changed my major from political science to genetic biology. That was nearly 20 years before I discovered that the genetic linkage in type 2 diabetes skips a generation.”
Controversy can, obviously, ruffle some feathers. A great way to use controversy is to do a switcharoo. Make a controversial statement and then follow it up with more soothing context. This type of hook is stellar in live events and presentations.
Ex: “What if I told you your mother only loves you because of a chemical cocktail created during pregnancy? Ok, ok. That’s not the ONLY reason your mother loves you. However, recent studies show that the chemical power-combo that occurs during pregnancy has a intense effect on the amygdala, the part of the brain in which scientists suspect motherly bonding occurs.”
Invite your audience to imagine
Visualization can have some of the best results in audience engagement because they put themselves into the problem or solution. This is a great hook to use in animations.
Ex: “Imagine you had enough money this summer to finally go on that vacation with your family. Where would that be? How much money would you need? Imagine I told you that really could happen this year through the Tax Credits for Working Families incentive.”
There you have it! Five tested ways to create a compelling hook. Let us know what you come up with!