Do you want to build a fan base that supports your blog?
I’m talking about those fans that will help you grow your business. The kind of fan that shares your stuff very often – if not always – and is an advocate of your authority.
Think about Apple’s fans…yeah, someone like them.
How would you like to never see again that horrible 0 in your social media counter?
Having a solid fan base can help you with that…and can do much more!
Enough about using your imagination, let’s talk about the controversial stuff
To Build a Fan Base Fast You Have to Play with People’s Emotions
Yes, you read it right: I said “play with people’s emotions”.
It doesn’t mean that you have to take the devil’s part, it means that you have to make people feel something.
Can you remember the last time you shed a tear while you was watching a movie?
That movie was playing with your emotion, and I don’t think you were angry with it for that reason.
As a person you want to feel emotions, they make you feel alive.
Guess why movies, romances and soap operas sell like crazy.
…well, guess why people buy anything. Every purchase you made was intended to turn off a bad emotion or to rise a good emotion, period.
Why do rock stars usually sell out passes to their concerts?
Even though we define ourselves as rational beings, we are completely irrational.
Making people feel emotions is extremely powerful, and it can build your fan base (or destroy it) in days.
Let’s talk about a few ways to make people feel something.
Be Controversial, Once in a While
Publishing controversial content is a great way to boost your exposure and acquire new fans.
Controversial posts animate discussions, and as you know this is a good thing for your blog.
Controversial stuff also generates word of mouth pretty easily. Have you ever shared with your friends something that was lightly outrageous in your opinion?
Think about gossip, it spreads as fast as light!
There’s a reason why so many advertisers try to push the audience’s reaction by showing controversial ads.
Jonah Berger and Katherine Milkman studied all the articles that New York Times published in 3 months and found that controversial posts received twice as many comments on average – I advise you to read the entire study “What Makes Online Content Viral?” which is pretty interesting.
One of the most popular posts here at Blog Growth is my first post. Do you know why? I wanted to tease readers by using a provocative title, and I was talking about a slightly controversial topic: making money blogging. As I’m writing this, that post has 84 comments and many backlinks – considering that it’s my first post, it’s very good.
Do you know the Stanford prison experiment? It’s a very controversial experiment that professor Zimbardo conducted in 1971. He took some students and simulated with them a prison, some students were the guards and some other the prisoners; during the experiment people had to live in the building. The goal was to run the experiment for 7-14 days, but the it was abruptly stopped after only six days – which makes you understand it wasn’t “just a game”.
Well, the book that describes the experiment is a The New York Times bestseller. Controversy pays.
A great example of being controversial comes from John McAfee. His video has been published about two weeks ago and it already have almost 4 millions views:
But pay attention when publishing controversial stuff.
As researchers Jonah Berger and Zoey Chen stated in their study When, Why, and How Controversy Causes Conversation: “[Data] shows that controversy increases likelihood of discussion at low levels, but beyond a moderate level of controversy, additional controversy actually decreases likelihood of discussion.”
Seriously, make your stuff too controversial and you can receive big damages. An extreme example from the following ad of the United Colors of Benetton’s UnHate campaign: it’s a kiss between the pope Benedict XVI and imam Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb which was taked down just hours after being put up, and the company had to apologise to the Vatican – which also took legal actions.
How to use Controversy in the Right Way
Talk about hot topics that can make people start a debate, but avoid too hot topic like politic and religion.
Here’s an excellent article by Gregory Ciotti that will show you how to use controversy in a subtle way and reap the benefits.
Humor is one of the best ways to spice your content.
Everyone enjoy a good laugh, especially when it’s unexpected.
Except for a couple of niches, most of the content you can find online is boring. Guess what happens when you can make people have fun when others don’t. People will enjoy your stuff and will come back for more.
Did a mention that humor has a huge viral potential?
Take for example the quiz “How Many Five Year Olds Could You Take in a Fight?”:
Extra points for that quiz, because other than using humor it leverage a little of controversy. The thousands of shares are a sign that it was an excellent idea.
Or take the Oatmeal’s quiz “How long could you survive chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor?”. Again thousands of shares for this quiz.
Humor really pays off.
As Carson Ward reported in his post at Moz: “Humor was employed at near unanimous levels for all viral advertisements. Consequently, this study identified humor as the universal appeal for making content viral.”
Take this advertising campaing from the insurance company Allstate:
The videos spread all around the web, it’s surely worked well – and the fact that I’m showing it here, probably as many others bloggers, it’s a further proof of its effectiveness.
The first time I saw those videos I couldn’t help but keep watching to see what was going on: other than taking advantage of humor, those ads were leveraging another factor, which is our next point.
How to use Humor without Burning Your Brain
Looking at the funny side of things and writing it in your blog posts is a good way to use humor, but I want to share with you a more actionable way to make readers smile: use funny images.
Take for example the memes, they conquered the planet, and some of them are just too funny. Inserting a certain meme in your blog post is a great way to leverage humor.
Show/Make Something Unexpected
Many times this goes hand in hand with humor, some other times it’s a separate thing.
As humans we are “learning machine”, we assimilate everything we can learn, as we go on in our lives we become more and more used to routines and expected things.
As soon as we see something unexpected we can’t help but pay attention to it, in attempt to learn from it.
The Allstate advertising is an example of this. You can’t imagine what is going on, so you keep watching.
Another great example comes from the Old Spice’s videos. Their videos include so many “strange things” that you will keep your eyes on the screen from start to finish.
Here’s another excellent example from the BlendTec which made millions of views on YouTube thanks to the unexpected effect:
How to Use the “Unexpected Factor”
These were video example, but you can use it in your blog posts as well. A great way to do it is by using a tricky title: write a headline that makes people think that you’re saying something in your post, but then say the opposite.
For example the headline of my first post is “Do You Want to Make Money Online? Stop Wasting Time Blogging” which made many people think that I was against having a blog or something else like that, when in reality that post was an advocate of having blog, just in a smart way.
Many expert writers use this kind of trick to surprise people and get the unexpected factor in their favor.
Create a debate with controversial content, make people laugh or surprise your audience: you have 3 powerful ways to build a fan base fast, choose at least one of them and use it – but no one forbids you to take advantage of all of these three concepts at the same time.
If you aren’t used to any of the three ways of spicing content, you probably will need a little more time to produce your stuff, but it will pay back.
Let me hear from you: have you already used one of these three strategies? What’s your favourite?
And if you haven’t, what’s holding you back?