How to grab (and hold!) your readers' attention on the web

The obvious point of sharing a blog post or feature on social platforms is that you want readers to click.

An attention-grabbing image plus teaser text is what’s going to make them do just that. You’re part of a continuously scrolling feed so it’s really important to get this bit right. 

What’s in it for the reader?

Get to the point and use a good quality, eye-catching image. For instance, if you’re sharing the latest healthy smoothie recipe, go for a bright, inviting image of the fresh ingredients before they hit the blender. And highlight a few of the health benefits in the teaser text - let the reader know what’s in it for them.

People want something for their time, whether it’s practical information, analysis, humour, something to aspire to or even voyeurism (yeah, we all know you watched Solange Knowles go all Michael Flatley on Jay-Z!)

Keep your promises!

The content promised in the teaser text must be fulfilled. It sounds like common sense, but attention-grabbing headlines don’t mean a thing if they don’t deliver good quality content.

It will lose you readers in the long term too – just like you wouldn’t go back to that café who promised you baba ghanoush but plated up a sweaty aubergine instead.

Once you’ve got the reader there, you want them to stay for as long as possible. Some websites and blogs don’t always use everything at their disposal. Our recent Sookio Masterclass looked at the use of images and video content, which highlighted just how important multimedia content can be.

Don't forget those who read your blog on the go

Embedding video content will add another dimension to your text. But it’s also good practice to remember that sometimes, not everyone can dedicate time to all of your post’s content – no matter how great it is. But why lose these people altogether? 

Explore and embed snappier bits of video content like Vine and Instagram – depending on your business or brand’s personality. You should also think about what your post is going to look like on mobile and tablet. 

Breaking up the text with subheadings is a good way to cater for people with little time. It allows for easier skimming on the eye. An image gallery can also serve this purpose. Infographics can really support a narrative, making what can be snooze-worthy stats for some into shareable, easy to digest content. They’re a great solution to a 140-character limit platform.

Goooooaaaalll! Holland's Robin van Persie makes it 1-1 in their World Cup match against Spain

What about using GIFs?

When Twitter announced that it now supports GIFs, many rejoiced. They have been part of the online meme world for quite some time, but they’re not just for Tumblr and Reddit users.

They are increasingly used in conveying emotion and even news, especially in the category of sport where fans can enjoy their favourite goals thanks to GIF replays.

We’re now seeing businesses creating GIFs of product shots. You could even show a step by step montage of how to create that delicious smoothie I was talking about before.

They’re a fun way to show personality without intruding on a user’s online experience. GIFs are more visually exciting than a picture and can tell a story like a video without the length and noise - a happy medium between the two that is easily shareable.

Let readers comment to their hearts' content

Moderated properly, user comments (sans spam and trolls) can spark even more interest and debate. What better way to hold a user’s attention than by getting them to engage? They can help keep the reader there for just that little bit longer.

Rhia ChohanComment