The most important element of online storytelling

hookIf you haven’t got me interested with your your first sentence, I’m out.

I’m fickle, ruthless and impatient with online content. And I’m not alone.

Journalists have always known the importance of snappy headlines and crafting a lead that makes a reader want to know more.

That’s why most stories written are in an ‘inverted pyramid’ style, with the most pressing information at the top and less information (traditionally it could be cut from a printed page) at the bottom.

With digital distractions (yes, I’m looking at you social media) all over the web, it’s important to remember that your reader is only one click from moving on. Your headline and your lead function as ‘the hook’, and are the most important element of great online storytelling. Imagine yourself fishing for readers in a sea of content – and those cat videos you scoff at? Those are tantalizing hooks.

A good hook isn’t just a feature of a text post – they’re just as important when introducing video, infographics, etc. You have to grab your reader, before they move on.

I’ll be talking about crafting great online content, including headlines, hooks and more, at the upcoming Social Capital Conference in Ottawa on July 26, but I’d like to give you some easy pointers to consider when sharpening your hook and writing a lead to keep them on your page:

  • Your lead should continue the thought of the headline, not repeat it
  • Keep your lead short and punchy
  • Get to the point quickly – long and flowy rarely works
  • ONE point only – don’t get bogged down in detail
  • Your lead should be 25 words or less.
  • Yes, I said 25 words MAX. Take a deep breath, you can do this.

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