Are business blog post titles “spoilers”? Maybe, but at least according to the Guardian Books blog, spoilers are good things: “Readers who know how a story will end will get greater pleasure from it.”
As novelists know, agents and publishers often require them to furnish a synopsis along with their manuscript. The synopsis, explains Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest, “supplies key information about your novel (plot, theme, characterization, setting), while also showing how these coalesce to form the big picture.” The agent or publisher, the implication is, will not take the time to read the manuscript without knowing up front if it’s going to be a good match for the publisher’s target audience.
As a corporate blogging trainer, I can’t help but see a strong parallel here for business blog content writers. Readers come online searching for information, products, or services, and they are not going to take the time to read your “manuscript” (the full text of your blog post) without assurance that they’ve come to the right place.
In writing any SEO marketing blog, using something on the line of that novelist’s synopsis is essential to doing what I call “blogging downhill”. In corporate blogging training sessions I teach new freelance bloggers in Indianapolis to address readers’ “What’s-In-It-For-Me?” question at the beginning, rather than later on in each blog post.
Sambuchino explains that, as agents have become “busier and busier”, today “they want to hear your story now-now-now.” That is certainly the case with the online readers of today. Two pieces of advice he offers novel synopsis writers are especially apropos for business blog writers:
- Establish a “hook” at the beginning.
- Make it a short, fast, and exciting read.
The University of California’s psychology department gave subjects 12 short stories to read. Some were presented with “spoiler paragraphs” that told readers how the stories would end, others had no spoilers. “Subjects significantly preferred the spoiled versions. Knowing ahead of time how the story would end not only didn’t hurt enjoyment, but actually improved it,” the researchers found.
The lesson for blog writers? Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em. Do it in the title and in the opening sentences of each blog post. Use a “hook”, but let readers know whether it’s for fishing or knitting. Will you be teaching them to fish or knit, or do you sell books on the subject?
We’ve always known that optimizing our online content writing means letting the search engines know what we’re about. Now, we learn, we’d best “spoil” the “suspense” for our readers as well!