The Secret Sauce Of A Great Blog Post

by · January 17, 201330 comments

People are wired to connect.  Neuroscientists have discovered that there is a part of our brains in the prefrontal cortex that helps us tune into other people, making the connections that are necessary to create relationships that help us survive.

How does this little bit of neuroscience have anything to do with blogging?  Because the most successful blog posts are those where the writer has tuned into something that the reader is experiencing.  This affects that part of the brain, generating an emotional connection with the reader.

For those who understand how people really make decisions, that’s the key. You may imagine that we weigh all the rational choices and do some mental calculation in our heads that helps us make a choice but in reality, all the possible considerations would literally stop us in our tracks if we didn’t have the shorthand of emotions to guide us.

Typical objectives for a corporate blog don’t take this into consideration.  They focus on goals like providing thought leadership, generating traffic, or to improving SEO–all reasonable goals for a blog but they tell only part of the story.  If you want to truly influence people, the most effective way to do that is to connect with them on a deeper, emotional level.

And as a marketer, influencing people is your job.

This means that when people read your post, they  must feel something.  When a reader connects with you emotionally, you are able to establish trust and as we all know, trust is what makes people want to do business with us. The secret sauce is how you accomplish that.

At Lion Brand, we have several talented writers who are passionate about our product.  Our objectives are to inspire and educate people.  But the real home runs are when we are able to touch peoples’ emotions.  A recent post by a guest blogger is a perfect example of creating that emotional connection.

Franklin Habit, wrote a post called Me, Me, Me, about how he feels guilty about knitting sweaters for himself.  He talked about how he gives away most of what he knits and it is sometimes unappreciated. He goes on to say that if he knit more for himself, he would know that he could make something that fit perfectly and it would give him great pleasure.  Franklin was able to tune into a universal truth about knitters and about people in general that speaks to the guilt of taking care of yourself.  He did it with openness, vulnerability and humor. (I invite you to read the post and consider how you relate to it, whether you knit or not.)

The numbers back up the power of connection.  That post, written within the last couple of weeks has been viewed over 11,000 times, shared on social media a couple of hundred times and has received many comments that talk about how he captured their feelings exactly.  Clearly engagement is closely related to connection.

There is truly nothing like the feeling that someone “gets” you.  People who read that post knew they had been “felt.”  This mirroring of peoples’ emotions is one of the most important ways to connect with others.  When reading his piece they said to themselves,  “Yeh, that’s how I feel too sometimes too.”

I know myself that my most successful posts were written when I was emotional about something and felt I needed to right a wrong.  When I wrote this post about how businesses need to change to be able to participate in social media I was feeling angry about an interchange with someone who didn’t understand this. I believe that the sharing of this post was based on others who felt the same frustration that I did.

It’s not realistic to think that you can create a moving piece of writing every day.  In the same way that relationships are built on a range of communication from small talk to deep, relationship-building conversations, a blog will consist of a mix of different types of writing.

There are probably thousands of blog posts about (pick your number) of ways to get more traffic or to write a successful post.  And all of those tips and tricks can lead to the “small talk” part of the relationship.

But the real secret sauce of a great blog post is the ability to connect with another human being and to make that person feel that you know her.  That’s how we create relationships that last.

RELATED:

For an excellent explanation of how we connect with people by mirroring their emotions, read Mindsight by Daniel J. Siegel M.D.

 

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About Ilana Rabinowitz

Ilana Rabinowitz

Ilana Rabinowitz is the vice-president for marketing for Lion Brand Yarn and blogs about social media at Marketing Without A Net. Rabinowitz approaches marketing with an uncompromising focus on the customer and a grounding in psychology and neuroscience to understand what motivates people to make buying decisions.  She believes that businesses need to develop their own media as a means of creating a branded experience for customers.  She has spoken at digital marketing conferences including Web 2.0, Blogher Business and Internet Retailer. She is the author of a book about psychology, a book about mindfulness and co-author of a book about the culture of knitting. Follow her on Twitter at @ilana221.

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://36creative.com/ 36creative.com

    I agree! I think too many blog owners spend much of their focus around SEO & keywords and what will drive traffic. What good is leading that horse to water if it never wants to drink?

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  • Sandra Holtzman

    I agree.  Storytelling, empathy with your audience and giving your audience information they WANT to hear (not what you think they SHOULD hear). 

  • http://blog.socialmediahq.com/ Nick Robinson

    Lovely as always Ilana! The neuroscience of marketing is extremely fascinating. I participated in a webinar a couple of months ago, and the presenter called it a “brain red bull-vodka” when someone feels truly connected to a piece of content, theme, or individual. I think this holds true when someone’s challenge is solved by a B2B marketer’s content. I know all types of fireworks are going off in my head when I read, watch, or see content that answers some of the many questions I have about business and marketing.

    • http://twitter.com/Ilana221 Ilana Rabinowitz

       Nick, Thanks so much for your comment.  I love that image of “brain red bull vodka” That is another way of communicating right to the brain–with a metaphor that sums up an idea so it’s easy to digest.

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  • http://www.howtomakemyblog.com/ Marko Saric

    Getting that connection with the reader is so powerful in creating subscribers, fans and customers – it is also very difficult to do, but definitely something every writer should think about when publishing blog posts.

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  • Dara Khajavi

    This was a beautifully written post. I completely agree with your point of view. The best content is content that inspires emotion. Its the content that we can relate to. We send this content to our friends and family because we think its emotionally inspiring, and this is how something goes viral. 

    I would also like to add something to the secret sauce of a great post. I think an uniqueness is also important for a great post. There are so many bloggers out there. Many of them also create great emotional content, but it is the unique ones that succeed. For example, fashion blogging is quite popular. One blog, Man Repeller, is especially interesting. This blogger was able to popular quite quickly because she created unique outfits. She also had a very distinctive voice and style. 

    • http://twitter.com/Ilana221 Ilana Rabinowitz

       Dara,

      Thanks for adding your thoughts and for your kind words. It’s a nice idea to add that the content must be unique and if you are connecting in your individual voice and from the “heart” of the brand to your readers, it will be.  That’s an even higher level of branding.

      • https://twitter.com/sanketpatel Sanket Patel

         Well, It is an actually higher level of branding.Guest blog is really very interesting tactic of SEO. As I can share my views and ideas with different blog owners. Really , I would love to enjoy it.

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  • twitter followers

    I agree with your thoughts that is very beautifully posted for social media explorer. I’ve been using socialbakers, hootsuite and socialkik to increase my followers and fans.

  • http://www.muschamp.ca/ Muskie

    I think your last two paragraphs are weak. You had my interest but then you didn’t tell me the secret sauce, you allude to it, you given an example of posts that supposedly have this secret sauce, but then you say things like “It’s not realistic to think that you can create a moving piece of writing every day.” It seems your post is an example of the bait and switch so prevalent among social media and online marketing experts. You write a headline, you tweet, it gets retweeted, people start reading only to end up disappointed. 

    We haven’t made a connection. I didn’t subscribe to your RSS feed, I didn’t follow your on Twitter. I didn’t retweet this. Some people seem to produce content because they have to rather than because they have something important to say or a true passion for the topic.You seem to aspire to something more than you managed to achieve. I’m not sure blogging when you are upset is the best advice to give especially in corporate blogging/online marketing circles.

  • Konstantin Slavutin

    Completely, agreed. There is nothing more important than compelling content that satisfies our selfish nature and that which fills any void, whether it be simple curiosity or need. 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/kenneth.vogt1 Kenneth Vogt

    The big, big problem here is that we can measure traffic and SEO directly but not so much for influence. Some people would actually use that statement to support just doing the same old, same old. We have such a love for measurability that we fail to embrace the vastly more powerful thing that is influence. Google Analytics can’t give you a number for that.

    The next problem is there are those who embrace what they think is influence, but it is really just manipulation. Tugging at the heartstrings with bad intent is indeed emotional but it is a dangerous tactic.

    So keep up the good work of championing influence, Ilana, true influence. The hawkers and the hucksters will be left in the dust.

    • http://twitter.com/Ilana221 Ilana Rabinowitz

       Kenneth, I appreciate your thoughts and your kind words.

       I have been thinking a lot about the difference between manipulation and influence.  It’s very subtle and we marketers have to be very careful because both depend on reaching people on an emotional level.  I’ll probably write a post on the topic!

  • http://www.leadsandappointments.com/ Anika Davis

    The most successful blog posts are those where the writer has tuned into something that the reader has experienced.

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