The key to winning fans is getting more attention. Attention is a reward for creating brain-craving content. So understanding how the brain works could come in handy.
Human beings naturally want things to make sense. When we don’t understand, we get frustrated. And when frustrated, we avoid that which confuses us. We see it in research all the time: Confusion is the #1 cause of tune-out. And today, listeners are more confused than ever because life comes at them faster than ever.
Everyone is overwhelmed. Each minute, more than 4 million new posts appear on Facebook. There are 347,272 tweets and 1,400 new blog posts. And that’s just part of the traffic targeting a listener’s limited brain space. Each day, more than 5,000 messages attack each audience member, trying to get noticed. That’s a new message every six seconds.
And you? You’re a soundtrack in the background to set a mood while they live life in the foreground. Whew. That’s a big challenge for radio personalities.
That’s why content must be simple. If it’s not easy to understand and digest, there’s not a chance it will become brain-craving content.
Not sure about that? Here’s proof, from psychologists and behaviorists.
Choosing the right words makes a huge difference in listener retention. Here are the keys:
Simplicity: The brain really doesn’t like to work hard. Complicated words are an invitation to tune out because the brain takes shortcuts. For radio stations, the shortcut is punching the button. Stop trying to impress listeners with a vocabulary. Keep it simple and clear.
Use Action Words: Power words cause the brain to react. For example, studies show that the word new releases dopamine. We’re constantly looking for the next thing. Other words that have the same effect are now, soon, and recent. Another action word is secret. Use terms like insider behind-the-scenes, confessions, a sneak peek, and the real story. These terms cause us to feel that we’re getting access to something scarce.
Colorful Words: Colorful descriptions have a profound effect on how a story is heard. This psychological study proved it: Two groups of people were shown the same video of a car accident. Both were asked how fast they thought one of the cars was going when the cars collided. However, the question was phrased differently. One group was asked, “How fast do you think the car was going when they crashed?” Responses averaged 40.8 miles per hour. The other group was asked, “How fast do you think the car was going when the cars came into contact?”. They said 31.8 mph. The word “crash” caused respondents to estimate 28% faster. That’s a big difference. The more colorful action word inspired a greater response.
Features Are Brain-Craving Content
Humans try to avoid confusion, which is mitigated by familiarity. That’s why locked-in features are such a powerful weapon.
Author Daniel Kahneman says this in his book, Thinking Fast & Slow:
Listeners default to hard-wired behaviors without giving it any thought.
He explains that responses are automatic For example, when someone sneezes, you quickly respond, “Bless You”. This automatic reaction is a reflexive behavior. This is another argument to focus on great content in a familiar package (features).
Simple, familiar, and colorful language is key to producing brain-craving content. If it becomes difficult to understand, we ignore or tune it out.
Words matter. Simplicity matters. Features matter. Watch this short video to be convinced: