Cognitive Psychology May Offer Clues to Creating Engaging Content

I see a lot of bloggers asking ”how can I get more readers?”. Personally, I have asked myself that question and also “how can I keep them coming back once they have discovered my blog?”.

There is a lot of noise out there in the online world of blogging. Besides spending time writing content for your blog, you also need to hit the social media streets to promote it. There are a lot of avenues to choose from to do that which brings a lot of challenges though. In most cases the challenge can be accurately summed up by the phrase “too much to do and too little time”.

So where should you be spending your time you ask? You have probably heard the phrase “content is king”. I still believe that quality, engaging content is the #1 thing you should be spending your time on. Get your blog in order before you even start promoting it.

You should concentrate on creating sharable content. You need to be writing quality posts that will keep people coming back and keep attracting new people in the first place. If you can do that effectively, the content will practically sell itself.

I recently read a paper by Nikki Pfarr titled Dangerous Assumptions. The paper is about using intentional design to influence human behavior. In it, Nikki borrows from fields of cognitive psychology and behavioral economics help us understand what really motivates people.

The paper is an interesting, high-level discussion about incentives and what motivates people. However, I think it offers some insight into writing quality content that can motivate people to visit your blog every day.

Nikki presents the seven key factors that motivate people and asks us to answer yes or no to 7 statements she created based on these motivators. She says that if you check “No” next to any of the statements you should ask yourself: What would it take to be able to check “Yes” for this?

I think three of those statements are particularly useful when trying to write engaging content. When these statements are combined, some important questions emerge.

  • Is the blog post engaging? Is there a story or idea that draws the reader in and motivates them to read further?
  • What value is the reader getting in exchange for their time (spent reading it)?
  • Is there something the reader can immediately take away from the post? Perhaps it is a new way of looking at things; perhaps it inspires personal reflection that results in a key insight; or perhaps it is a tip or trusted opinion?

I would suggest keeping these questions in mind when writing your blog posts. If you can’t answer these questions upon review, I would suggest making a few tweaks to it.

Doing this is not an exhaustive method for creating engaging content, or in no way a guarantee that readers will flock to your blog, but I believe it is a move in the right direction.


2 thoughts on “Cognitive Psychology May Offer Clues to Creating Engaging Content

  1. Hi Jessica – great post. We agree 100% that engaging content is a key component to a successful blog. We strive for that with an equal mix of education and fun with a dash of silliness too just because dogs can be silly and who doesn’t want to celebrate that!

    • Yay…a reader, a reader! Thanks for stopping by.

      I also fall trap to trying to be too many places at once promoting my blog. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s about the content and that is where it is most valuable for me to spend my time.

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