Media Shower writer Daniel Cross is well-known for his work in travel, health, and education. You can follow his work on his personal website.
I happened upon the key to appealing article writing and content marketing before even realizing I wanted to be a writer. It was back in those glowing, limitless days of university when I was studying Psychology.
Understanding Selective Attention
Understanding the human mind is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we learn there is a huge distortion between reality and our perceptions. Our memory lets us down, even when we think we’ve remembered things correctly, and our ability to absorb new information relies on the format being to our liking.
Fortunately, this isn’t as depressing as it sounds because it helps us to unlock how we focus our attention. When we understand that, it becomes easier to cater for our imperfect brains and help them absorb information with greater accuracy.
Let’s try an experiment, shall we? Take a look at the video below and count how many times the team wearing WHITE pass the ball to their teammates.
So why do our brains let us down like this? Why can’t we spot the monkey? We have evolved to filter our focus on matters important to us. As hunter-gatherers stalking across the plains of Africa, we had to be alert for two things: what we wanted to eat, and whatever wanted to eat us! If we became distracted from this task every time a bird flew by, we would quickly end up in the belly of a hungry lion. It is a testament to how quickly we have developed as a society that our special habits are having a hard time catching up.
Happily, we needn’t let this nuisance wiring upset us. Instead, we can focus on what lets our memories down and implement formats and techniques to stop them from getting distracted. We can learn from the above example that it’s important to not overload your reader with too much information at once. They might be so focused on one detail that they’ll miss two others.
Now that we’ve understood the importance of human psychology, we can start to explore how to adapt content to suit specific target readers. We’ve all heard the adage “know your audience”, right? Well, it’s just as true for writing a popular article as it is for understanding the intricacies human psychology.
As the internet expands, it is important that articles are attention-grabbing, amusing, deliver a well-sourced punchline and keep the reader wanting more. That’s not to say this is right for every audience. Some readers demand more detail and description to sustain their interests. It’s all about knowing who your main target readership is and what is important to them. Once you know that, you can build rapport between writer and reader.
So don’t despair that our brains are easily distracted. Every readership has a style that suits. Readers want to be enraptured. They want to feel a rapport. Understanding the psychology of your readers, their preferences and their limitations is the key to winning their loyalty. So the next time you question what your readers want, ask yourself, “What would Freud do?”
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