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3 Lessons from a 12 year-old to avoid boring your readers

By on May 8, 2013 in Uncategorized | 4 comments

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Don't bore your readers

“I’m bored.

I’m SO bored.

Today is boring.

I miss seeing my friends.

There’s nothing interesting to do.

Entertain me Mum … ”

That was my daughter’s daily monologue for the best part of two-and-a-half weeks. Yes, it was the school holidays.

Being a child of today’s iGeneration, like every other digital native she is overstimulated, highly connected and absorbs more media than any previous generation. And then there’s the haunting spectre of FOMO (fear of missing out) hanging over her … every moment.

This makes for interesting down-times.

A teenager’s life is filled with texting, messaging, surfing, gaming and watching, toggling between platforms and keeping up with the latest.

Their threshold for boredom is short. Very short.

But then, I’ve just described an increasing number of the population.

We’re all overwhelmed.

We all twitch in our seat or channel-hop when things get too complex, too simple or are just plain dull.

Keeping anyone’s attention these days is challenging.

But boring isn’t permanent; and it’s not deadly.

So taking a leaf from the life-manual of a twelve year old, here’s three ideas for you to implement in your writing and content creation that will keep your readers from getting bored:

 

1. Credible [aka social kudos]

A twelve year old relies on her friends for the latest on everything. Gossip, how-to’s and taboos are far more believable from a friendly source. If you’re the source, then you get the kudos for the cool new recommendation, or can be the hero when you warn things are bad. That all adds up to improving your social credibility.

Content creation tip: In practice, this is WOM (word-of-mouth), advocacy, referrals and buzz.  When someone tells you something or recommends something, it’s far more powerful and believable than seeing an advertisement. Create content that capitalises on this by making sure if your reader repeats, shares or recommends something that it adds to their credibility and socials standing.  Build their profile, not yours.

 

2. Entertaining [aka occupies, inspires or amuses]

Every girl loves being the centre of attention; they love to have something interesting, amusing or different to talk about, show and share. Especially if it’s something they’ll be entertained by (Gangnam Style), is fun to hear or watch (how animals eat their food) or brightens someone’s day.

Content creation tip:

Use the show-and-tell technique. Wherever possible combine visual media and text in your content marketing plans. This includes You Tube, SlideShare and images. Better still, build a transmedia plan (more on this soon) that keeps your readers involved, entertained and allows them to become part of the story/action.

 

3. Engaging [aka involves emotion]

If you’ve ever overheard the conversations of teen girls, it can be quite hilarious – and anything but boring. Ignoring the abuse of the word ‘like’ that chills me to the bone, amongst close friends the chat is always very inclusive, full of feeling and often extroverted.

Content creation tip:

Think like a teenager (or whoever your reader is). Put yourself in their shoes and write about the things they consider remarkable, not you. Inject it with passion, personality and point-of-view. Enthusiasm is contagious, so let your readers feel your excitement (or loathing). Tell a story; use the lessons in Made to Stick  (by Chip and Dan Heath). People remember stories, not boring facts.

 

So…

Pretend you’re a twelve year old; I didn’t bore you, did I?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Drop a comment below and we can talk…
Photo credit: left-hand via photopin cc

 

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4 Comments

    • Di Mace

      August 16, 2013

      Post a Reply

      Me too, Mark. At first I thought maybe I’d swapped minds with my 12-year old … and then I woke up. And smiled.

  1. Henneke

    May 12, 2013

    Post a Reply

    I often feel that my attention span is becoming increasingly short. I quickly get bored with a lot of blog posts. But I wonder is it me? Or is it just because a lot is written that’s recycled stuff you’ve read before? I do enjoy a good long read.

    “Made to Stick” is one of my favorite (or do you write favourite Down Under?) books.
    Henneke recently posted..3 Copywriting Techniques: How to Make Good Sales Copy Great

    • Di Mace

      May 13, 2013

      Post a Reply

      Hee he…yes, we follow ‘the queen’s english’ with our added u’s, re’s and s’s (amongst others) but increasingly the US spelling is creeping in because of their pervasive cultural/media infuence :(
      Some days I have the attention span of a nat (or to give a visual, Hammy the hamster in the animated movie “Over the Hedge’) and I bounce around all over the place. But I’m with you, there is so much recycled stuff that can’t hold my focus. Shame, because often that’s what’s passed around (list posts and link roundups) and makes for unenlightening reading. Speaking of reading, seems we have some similar yummy food in our book-diets :)

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