Competing for your audience’s attention online is no easy task.
To get them to stop and listen to what you have to say, you need to have a strong hook.
This practice is easily theorized but difficult in practice: how do you title your posts or blogs so that the audience is both intrigued and engaged? The title needs to be interesting but also descriptive of what the article will be about. It can be a tricky line to balance. Sometimes, these catchy titles are called “content hooks.”
Here’s what you need to know about content hooks.
What is a Content Hook?
Content hooks are just like writing an intriguing hook for a story, something most people did in primary school. They are very similar, both trying to get the attention of the audience and urge them to keep reading.
Content hooks use tested formulas to attract and keep a reader’s interest. They often use numbers, use mystery or shock value to their advantage, or emphasize results or reaching goals.
They are a big part of marketing psychology. It is the study of audiences’ attention spans and interests and how to use your content to engage them. There are plenty of common assumptions and myths about capturing audience attention, such as the belief that humans’ attention spans have become shorter than a goldfish’s.
These claims are often not backed up by real psychological studies, but there is value in trying to capture an audience’s attention. Content hooks can mean the difference between success, virality, increased sales, increased conversions, and failure.
8 Content Hook Ideas
The following content hooks are proven to engage audiences and motivate them to read more of your content. This is not an exhaustive list. There are many more proven formats that work, but these might inspire your next successful article or viral post.
1) “You won’t believe…”
This content hook is a classic way to intrigue an audience. By leading with this phrase, the audience will wonder what it is that they don’t already know. Ideally, the audience will soon be convinced to believe whatever it is you are trying to convince them, e.g.: “You won’t believe how well content hooks work.”
2) “This is gonna blow your mind…”
Another classic content hook, saying something is going to blow the audience’s mind is an especially dramatic way to hook them. Not only is whatever information you have or the product you are selling is unexpected, but it will evoke a strong reaction. This is an especially effective way to lead if you are withholding surprising information, e.g. “This New Home Security System Is Gonna Blow Your Mind.”
3) “X reasons why you should [fill in the blank]”
People often seek out search engines or social media to look for information. They want to be persuaded to do something, reach a goal, or make a purchase. This is where content hooks like this come into play. By telling them why they should do something, piques their interest and inspires them to engage with the content.
Also, as mentioned before, numbered lists generally are more attractive and digestible. They will then have learned exact reasons why they should complete the desired action, e.g.: “10 Reasons Why You Should Invest Today.”
4) “X number of things I wish I knew before [fill in the blank]”
Once again, we have a numbered list. But this time, it gives the audience good advice from a trusted source. Since you are framing the content as something you have already done but might have done incorrectly or inefficiently, it gives credibility to your arguments. People probably already know they want to do whatever the action is, but want to learn how they can prepare and do it right, e.g.: “5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Filing My Taxes.”
5) “How I got from [here] to [here] in a specified amount of time”
This content hook also frames the argument as something that is from personal experience. People like to read about people’s experiences before doing something. It also helps significantly to use a time frame. It lets the audience know how they could also achieve that goal in a realistic amount of time, based on your guidance. For example, “How I Went From Making Minimum Wage To Owning My Own Business in One Year.”
6) “X number of things you should do before [fill in the blank]”
Another variation on number four, this hook also helps readers know what they should do to prepare for something. It gives the audience confidence, inspires them to read more, and then they will learn how to accomplish the task, e.g.: “6 Things You Should Do Before Applying For a Loan.”
7) “Top 5 (tools/creators/websites) that you need for [insert wanted result]”
People do not want too many options that they become overwhelmed, so the top 5 lists generally are the most successful. This is a great format to use if your business gives professional advice. By weighing out all of the options and synthesizing all of the best ones into a list, you become a trustworthy source. Plus, all of the hard work of researching the right tools/creators//websites will be done for them. For example, “Top 5 Plugins That You Need For A Great WordPress Blog.”
8) “If you’re not getting [insert wanted result], then you need to be doing [fill in the advice]”
Once again, many people are looking for solutions when they take to the internet. They want results, solutions, and goals reached. For this reason, a content hook like this one is a perfect attention grabber. If the audience wants to achieve the wanted result, they will be thankful for your expertise and be more likely to follow your advice.
Content Hook Tips
1) Always try to answer this question when using these hooks: what does my audience want that this piece of content can help them get? If you cannot look at the content hook and have some idea about how to answer the question, then your hook might be too vague.
2) Create content as if you’re speaking or writing to your ideal client because that’s who you’re trying to attract. You do not need to aim content toward pleasing everyone. This might even inhibit the success of your posts. Casting too wide of a net can often result in catching nothing. Instead, study your target audience, get to know their interests and preferences, and you will be much more likely to succeed.
3) Don’t reveal too much of your content with the hook. Your content should guide your audience but not necessarily teach them every single step they need to take to get a wanted result. That’s where you come in, as you need to give them a reason to hire you (or your services/products). Give your audience enough information so that they know you are trustworthy, but leave room for them to want more.
There you have it! Some of the best content hook formulas and helpful tips for implementing them. Start leveraging these powerful content hooks today.