Being an avid user of LinkedIn and an unrepentant voyeur of the popular articles which are published on it, I began noticing a novel pattern. Novel, however, quickly became nauseating just through sheer repetition which finally induced me to seek relief by regurgitating this article and sharing it with you.
Let's begin. Count the number of articles that go viral which begin with interrogatives like 'Why', 'How' and 'What'.
These titles are designed to alert, tease and lure rather like cheese on a mouse trap. The truth is that as a species we always have been hungry to feed the starving cavity called knowledge which grows in appetite and demands more as you fulfil it. This characteristic and capacity is what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. The expansion of the internet has accelerated this and bred millennials who no longer simply enjoy feeding on nutritional information but now crave it. The average intelligent surfer scrolls and browses until he or she finds something to explore which from the surface appeals to have the substance to stimulate and satisfy. From my own experience, it is not uncommon to be trawling the web and clicking on something just because the first few words appealed or the thumbnail struck a chord. Ask any successful YouTube channel operator how crucial getting a good thumbnail is for drawing in an audience.
Articles and their authors are all fighting and pitching for a split second of our shrinking attention spans. Using words like 'Why' in the title lets the reader know that clicking will be a valuable and profitable use of time because it implies that some expertise, insight or solution is going to be revealed within that article. People don't want descriptive prose any more, they want something new, something productive and something that they can take away for themselves. For example, if I had named this article 'Articles That Begin With 'Why' ', you might not have given me your time because there is nothing in that title which indicates any real value.
A similar case can be and has been made within business. One of my favouriteTedx speakers (by the way, have a look at how many popular Tedx talks being with 'why' or 'how'?) Simon Sinek spoke about how the concept of 'why' truly inspires and creates real value and competitive advantage, using the cases ofApple, Martin Luther King and the Wright brothers as his supporting evidence. His point was that addressing this untamed curiosity for 'why' which we all possess as intellectuals is an unequivocal way to create value, to inspire and to inject in people that crucial gut feeling which leads them to say yes, I am in.
Our palate as consumers has grown increasingly sophisticated in its demands and so naturally, the supply must adjust accordingly. Again from experience, the world of sales has done this very thing; clients and customers are no longer content with swallowing features and benefits; they want to be consulted, they desire to be charmed, they long for authenticity, they want to be massaged into having a good genuine gut feeling and believing in you and your product/ service.
By scratching that innate, nagging itch called 'why', you can better attract, engage with and unlock value for your audience. This has been proven time and time again in politics, business, music, religion - people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. That's what really drives behaviour.
What do you do, what's your cause and your vision?
Why do you do it and how well do you communicate that to your audience?
Continue this conversation with me via LinkedIn or by firstname.lastname@example.org