It may be an unfortunate commentary on society that including words like “moron” and “idiot” in the title of a post garner considerably more traffic than words like “success” and “charity” but it is a fact. Using controversial images works well too!

In the several articles I have submitted to Social Media Today I have found varying degrees of success. While my articles all provide constructive, useful information for anyone in the business of social media or anyone thinking about launching a campaign, I have found that the #1 way to get my articles read is to be somewhat controversial in the headline.

So, in the interest of continuing to provide value to the people that read my posts I offer you the top 5 ways to get your articles read.

First off I want to illustrate my point about headlines. The following are the articles I’ve submitted to SMT in the order they were submitted.

How Social Media Will Save the Human Race (941 reads – my first article submission)

She said “I think Facebook is just stupid” (2141 reads)

Hey Big Business! You’re About to Lose Your Market Share! (427 reads 🙁

Can a Multinational Company Succeed in Social Media (1,774 reads)

Social Media ROI for Idiots (19,876 reads!!!!!) FIRST CONTROVERSIAL TITLE.

Social Media Means Certain Death to the Greed is Good Paradigm (2816 reads)

How a Homeless Guy Named Patrick Taught Me About Social Media (3711 reads)

It’s Not Your CEO’s Fault He’s a Social Media Moron (12,735!) 2ND CONTROVERSIAL TITLE.

#1: The best way to attract people to read your work is to have a controversial title. Inserting words like “moron” and “idiot” seem to spark people’s curiosity and show that you write in the vernacular of your audience.

Often considered the father of modern marketing and advertising, David Olgilvy was quoted as saying: “I don’t know the rules of grammar…If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.”

That point works for both the title and the body of the article. Write like you speak and people will want to read your work. Which brings us to…

#2: Once someone has clicked on your article you have to be able to deliver the goods. If gathering clicks is your only goal then the title is fine (lame but fine) but if you really and truly want to provide people with something of value make sure you do so in your article.

A couple of really great ways to do this is to provide links to external information where they can find out more. i.e. I hyper-linked readers of this article to David Olgilvy because, as marketers, they may be interested in him.

The easier it is you make for someone to find information the more valuable you are to them.

Part of #2 is knowing your demographic. Who are you writing for? Is it the C-level execs? The marketing department? The Administrative Assistant? The small business owner? All of these require a different strategy so make sure you know who you want to read your work before you decide how you’re going to present it.

#3: Be authentic. If you’re writing for this site chances are you’re doing so to increase business to your own website or to garner some online attention for your brand. If you are able to provide value while doing that don’t lie about your motives. If you think that your own site can provide even more, useful info then link to it. There’s no shame in giving away good knowledge for the benefit of others. If you reach 200 people and one becomes a client that’s 1 more than you had yesterday and you may have helped 199 others.

#4: Don’t poach. (or, be honest) Look, if you come across an article online or in a magazine that you really think will help others make sure you give credit where it’s due. You could likely get away with passing things off as your own but why? How would that further your business or your reputation? However, if you find something sharable and interesting and you para-phrase it and promote the original post or article you look like a rock star!

#5: ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS PROVIDE VALUE. If you’ve read any of my other posts this is the thing I iterate and reiterate. You have to think about your audience and what they want to learn. When in doubt ask yourself if what you’re about to say will provide value to the reader. If the answer is no do a bit of research and find out how you can value-add to it. If you can’t find a way, ditch it for something else.

Once you create a name for yourself as someone who knows their stuff the views will follow.

Good luck with your writing. I’m happy to comment or read what you’ve done and offer advice or if you have something to add to these 5 points I’d love to have you do so. You can read this and all of my Social Media articles on my site Social Media Canada. (a shameless plug for my own company 🙂

Written by jax