Interest (silent protest here for the lack of the word : Interestingness) is a matter of relativity, taste and a function of the person in whose context it needs to be generated.
However there may arise a need for you to be generally appealing to the curiosity of the masses and produce engagement of an order unnatural to your usual self. While the following might be the modus operandi of someone who finds the product of the mentioned techniques interesting, it sure can be helpful for those who don’t, and can’t figure out why others do. Here are a few points to consider.
1. Make Lists
The human brain, at least that of most humans is not a very retentive organ. So when you furnish it with an essay on something interesting, by the time it finishes processing the entire document, interest absconds. Think of a list as going to a restaurant and being served a set menu instead of ala carte, its so much simpler. Top 10 reasons to love your Job, To Leave your Job, 15 Things you need to know about IPhone K(K = f(t)), 1000 places to see before you die and 10 Places that you need to go to die. These are just a few examples of what makes for reading for the average netizen. Spruced with images, graphics and easy to remember and thus easy to re-quote points. Bullet lists might not have been the choice of your Highschool English teacher but are literary fastfood that sells. So if you have something to say break it into points in multiples of five and then spew it out.
2. Shock, awe & aaawww
There was a time when shocking people, obscenity, defying social norms and being daring in your writing could sell anything. Still smutty headlines and cheap articles rake in a fare share of the audience. Another contender though is cuteness and empathy. In a world separated by physical if not social distance, there are millions of people out there hungering for inspiration and reaffirmation in the human spirit. The titles You will not Believe what this 10 year Old did, This Video has a Dog and a small boy, When this girl speaks the world listens or What this dad did on his Gay Son’s wedding is priceless are all an answer to those who are seeking something to emote about. Of course one can’t empathize with those people who we physically meet, for more than 5 minutes of exposure might kill the need to do so. From Cats to sites like UpWorthy and others, you need to find content like Babies sucking Lemons, Old people dancing and minorities being spoken for and you shall then have the internet flocking to your chubby hands for their daily dose of sweet corniness. If you get something which makes people cry, you have hit liquid lachrymal 24 carat shit.
3. Share stuff which ain’t yours
Music videos, songs, trailers, advertisement campaigns, rock concert recordings and everything that is fresh and new which is already out there scaling the skyscrapers of social media to the top floor where viral things reside. It shall get there on its own but whatever is cool and trending is something to which consumers are already hooked on. You need to sink your hooks into this and help your stuff climb up. Write something on ALS, Iphone 6, Modi’s Teacher’s Day Speech, The Death of Joan Rivers or even the promo for the new Big Boss Season. That will have you covering only the last week. Deaths, births, social media phenomenon, product launches and movie releases are pre propelled activities from which you can draw momentum. Most people won’t read what you have to say but they’ll like it and share it and plaster it around town for your face to be slightly less obscure than before.
4. Memify or Die
Idea or behavior which spreads from culture to culture, we all know the meme, love net memes and use them in conversations offline too. Most users of the world wide web don’t consciously create content. The odd post here and there with a unique tweet a month. Mostly its status reporting, questions like What are you upto? do make it difficult for the unimaginative to respond beyond : “At McDs with ma frndz.” or “XYZ is listening to Erotic Trance by DJ Eurotrash”. This is when memes come to the rescue, occasionally creative but usually simple with high reshare potential, establishing some sense of uniqueness. Anything with a focus on the target group’s childhood, alma matter nostalgia, job or pay woes or failures with the opposite sex, strikes home like nothing else can. Milk the movies of old or even the 90’s, music by Daft Punk and the Tv shows on whose teats your audience has been sucking for about half a decade; and your work is relevant, easy to identify with and thus worthy of redistribution.
5. size matters
While length may have been oversold by SPAM mailers the reverse is true in the case of online content. Stephen King in general advice doled out to budding authors often restates the importance of keeping things short and simple. Using language which is clean and yet descriptive. Don’t use two words where one will do, is the dictum. Attention spans have a had an ever increasing mortality rate with it averaging at a maximum of a few sentences per article. The idea of paragraphs is dead, gone, kaput, over. While earlier dabblers in writing and literature believed in expression as well as the idea, now its more visual than verbal. GIFs and videos are very hard to compete with and if you are looking to stir interests in many versus a few, avoid verbose lines. Also avoid using words which you hope that everyone will be aware of but secretly understand that very few members of your audience get.
6. Sarcasm & Criticism don’t pay
The odd film critic and the restaurant reviewer shall get paid for the spewing for verbal strychnine but only when doing so occasionally between praises of generally undeserving works. The overall feeling of whatever you do has to be positive. Yes you shall find Digital Goths and Emos bringing down the house with their misery but that is collective misery. They’ll be decent to each other. Content is king they say, true but it doesn’t have to be the best to make your work famous. It has to be good enough followed by a social network comprising of active, well connected relationships which you have fed and nurtured with the good natured like, share and favorite now and again. So even though you might not agree with what other people say, you have to find a substantial group of people whom you least disagree with. Then they shall reciprocate the interest you show in them. Sarcasm anyway serves little point for those at whom it is aimed, seldom get it and those who do are never the targets.
7. References & Stats
Most readers today shall like to pride themselves as being aware and generally conversant in something or the other. This notion is perpetuated by the recognition of certain names, brands as authorities in that area. You need to mention these in anything you write about the subject, even if it is just a collection of thoughts or your own opinion. It isn’t important, what’s being said but who said it. Quoting world leaders, businessmen, leading publications renders a degree of reliability and depth to your work. It tells the world you gave time to the digging of something trivial relevant for the validation you expect from your readers as your opinion being an informed one. Add charts and figures and if possible infographics as they shall strike the perfect balance between the reader’s attention deficit and the desire to appear intellectual.
8.don’t follow advice from other writers
Yes that does seem counter intuitive and makes the article pointless but is perhaps the most important point in the list. If you are the kind of person who wants to do your own thing, develop a distinctive style, to identify and build an audience which shall emerge from the general population to applaud your talents then why do what worked for others? The formation of the previous statement has every one rushing to the unique and different side of the room. Who with creative juices flowing in them would refute the quest for such an identity? But the popularity of things like BuzzFeed, ScoopWhoop and other entertainment in under 5 minute websites, leaves you assured that even if you aren’t distinctive there is a huge audience out there for you. When parodies, spoofs and 5 minute comedy skits and rants get exponentially more views than panel discussions by academia and non mainstream news, when the flooding in J&K takes a back seat to international high school violence and race issues(even for Indians), you know that if you latch on to what is popular you can be famous, read by many more and generally well known. So perhaps the choice is yours, you write something that lingers in obscurity but is unique in its non conformation or trade in for something more popular and thus by design not very original.
Here the paradox is that if what you do becomes popular then for how long shall it remain unique? Is being interesting more important than being interested? Ponder.