As I’ve discussed over and over in many different ways, content strategy gets difficult because you really can’t fake good content. If a blog post is good, it’s good, and if it’s not, it’s not. Knowing which content users will gravitate towards or go viral is a bit of a toss-up, and hitting a wall where it feels like you’ve run out of things to say is inevitable. These things happen and it’s all part of the moving target that is an effective content strategy.
What remains the same is the need to leverage content (written content, as it applies to this particular post) in a way that bridges the gap between users and publishers. Establishing that connection is what keeps users engaged and pushes them further through the conversion funnel. Ultimately, the connection brands and bloggers foster with users is what will end up driving profit the most.
But how do you establish that connection when you’re maybe burnt out or feel like you’ve run out of happy, click-bait things to say?
Let’s think about this in terms of the 2016 presidential election. During the election, you probably noticed that there weren’t many positive, feel good articles circulating online. Rather, the most shared articles, both real and fake, all tended to be negative. And if you think about it, that makes sense. While positive content is definitely received well and draws engagement, negative content often out-performs it, and that’s simply a matter of human nature. For example, let’s say that I and a coworker both like to drink coffee. Coffee is great, we chat about it at the coffee pot in the morning, other people enjoy coffee as well, and everything is cool when we have coffee in common. But if I can’t stand when people leave their dirty dishes in the break room and neither can another coworker, then we have formed an instant connection that’s a lot stronger than our bond over coffee. This is what we call the negativity bias.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, negativity bias refers to the notion that, even when of equal intensity, things of a more negative nature (thoughts, emotions, social interactions, etc.) have a greater effect on one’s psychological state and processes than do neutral or positive things. This may seem like a backward way of looking at things, but it actually presents a powerful opportunity for content creators to connect with their audience.
Negativity bias has a powerful impact on user behavior, including impressions, how decisions are made, and how connected to a brand or piece of content users feel. Brands and bloggers can cash in on the efficacy of a negativity bias to balance out content by using a mix of a positive approach and a strategic negative approach. But that doesn’t have to mean you suddenly flood your blog with exclusively Debbie downer type articles. For example, you can take a neutral post about good office etiquette and create the negative opposite, like “What not to do in an office setting” or “10 awful pet peeves in offices.” Not only will you end up with multiple content ideas to work with, but you’ll also be establishing a connection with users by way of negativity bias. In doing so, you can add both value and impact to your content that will make your words work.