"But I write about mortgages (or some other similarly 'boring' topic) -- there's no way I can possibly make my content fun to read." For many of you in the B2B boat, this is probably an excuse you can easily relate to.
But I'm going to fight you on this one because, hey, I'm a B2B content creator, too. And we sell marketing software over here -- not exactly the sexiest product to peddle, if you ask me. But we've heard time and time again from our readers that they love coming back to our content because we make it fun and interesting to read about marketing.
Even companies in "boring" industries need to create content. But the thing is, people who read about mortgages aren't waking up one day thinking, "I think I'm going to read about mortgages today!" They read that content because they need information about mortgages -- maybe because they're considering buying a house. So why not make the otherwise boring, tedious process of reading about mortgages (or insert your industry here) a little bit more interesting -- maybe even fun -- for them? After all, everyone loves being entertained, right? And injecting a little bit more fun into your content might even set it apart from some of your competitors' truly boring content.
So without further ado, here are 10 smart ways to make your content more fun to read.
10 Ways to Make Your Content More Fun to Read
1) Tell a Story
You may be writing about some boring industry concept, but that doesn't mean you can't weave in a little storytelling. Telling stories or anecdotes is a great way to engage your readers and make your content relatable. It also makes your reader realize that behind that stuffy industry concept is a real person who's writing it.
Don't be afraid to draw from personal experiences -- just be sure they relate back and transition well to the topic of your content. Here's an example of how a colleague of mine, Ginny Soskey, incorporated a personal anecdote to set the stage for the 10 free design tools she highlighted in this post:
2) Crack a Joke
This one is a little tougher, as it requires a sense of humor ;-) That being said, you don't have to be the funniest person in the world to make readers smile here and there. Sometimes, your choice of words or a little parenthetical quip will do the trick. Just loosen up, be yourself, and if you're not sure whether something is actually humorous, run it by an honest co-worker. Take a look at how my colleague Corey Eridon cracks a joke in a post about a pretty dry topic (CAN-SPAM).
3) Use Your Introduction Wisely
The intro of your content is one of your best (and easiest) opportunities to be creative and fun. What's more, this is the perfect place to do it, since you want your introduction to be compelling and interesting enough to get your readers' attention (no easy feat, believe me).
And, hey -- whaddya know? Intros also happen to be great places for cracking jokes and telling stories! You can also consider being empathetic or coming up with another creative way to introduce the reader to what lies in the content ahead of them. The goal is to get the reader to emotionally connect with or relate to the content so they want to keep reading. For more tips about writing great introductions -- and an example of a great introduction in and of itself -- check out our post, "How to Write an Introduction."
4) Watch Your Tone
Boring topics will sound even more boring if you write with a bland tone. In most cases, you can get away with a conversational, informal tone in your writing -- especially if the writing is going on a blog, not in an academic paper. Think about how you would communicate with someone verbally, and adopt that tone in your writing. Your readers will thank you for content that, albeit educational, is also easy to read and get through. Isn't the following so much more enjoyable to read than it would've been had we stopped after that first little paragraph?
5) Use Fun, Hypothetical Examples
On the content team, we like to call these "unicorn examples." Here's why: For a while here at HubSpot, we had kind of a unicorn thing going on. The unicorn even turned into somewhat of a mascot for us (we called him Hu). In any event, every time we were looking to enhance our blog content with a hypothetical example to explain a concept more clearly, the example went something like this:
Off the wall and totally fun, but still very relevant and helpful in getting our readers to understand how to use analytics to identify the topics they should be blogging about -- the topic of the post it appeared in.
This approach works particularly well when you're writing for a variety of personas, because it levels the playing field (since you're using an example that doesn't just apply to one particular persona and not the rest).
6) Hijack a Meme
I'm not gonna lie -- I loooove memejacking. Meme-what, you ask? If you're not familiar, a meme is quite simply a concept, behavior, or idea that spreads, usually via the internet. Memes most commonly manifest themselves in visuals such as images, pictures, or videos, but they can also take the form of a link, hashtag, a simple word or phrase (e.g. an intentional misspelling), or even an entire website. If you're still having some trouble grasping the concept, check out some of these popular memes. I bet you'll recognize a few.
What's great about doing some memejacking in your content is the fact that memes are inherently fun, engaging, and wildly popular. But how exactly does one "hijack" a meme? Luckily, we've written a detailed blog post on the subject that provides some great memejacking tips and tricks. The great thing is, you can either go big like Moz, which announced its Series B funding through an entirely meme-themed news release ...
... or like we did with our post about marketing pick-up lines, as told through popular memes.
Perhaps you can be a little bit more subtle, sprinkling in a meme reference here and there to add a little fun to your content, like we did in our recent post about what the best bloggers do:
7) Incorporate Pop Culture References
Speaking of popular memes, how about a little pop culture reference to liven up your content? Here's an example of how we did this recently in a post about Google's move to encrypt all keyword search data -- not exactly the most uplifting article for marketers, but there was no sense in us being total Debbie Downers about it. A little humor, it turns out, is a great way to help cope with bad news :-)
Just be mindful of your target audience with this one (and come to think of it, with memejacking, too). If the majority of your audience won't have any idea who or what you're referencing, it'll be a total flop. Now, you won't be able to appeal to everyone, but use your best judgment and keep your personas in mind when making pop culture references like these.
8) Get Creative With Images
You know what they say: "A picture is worth a thousand words." Imagery is not only a great way to improve the social shareability of your content, but it can also add a little fun to it, too. Take some extra care in choosing images for your content. Can you use them to enhance a joke you made or crack a new one? Can you simply select a relevant image that's already funny in and of itself? Can you overlay a caption or add a clever thought/talk bubble like we did in the example below (which can be found in this blog post)? Don't be afraid to get creative!
(Image Credit: horslips5)
Just be sure you have the right permissions to use, adapt, or modify the images you're using. Use photos appropriately licensed under Creative Commons (but be careful), or purchase stock photos. (Bonus: We have 235 stock photos available to download for free here and here that you can adapt however you'd like!)
9) Add a GIF
How fun is the GIF pictured below?
We added it to the blog post and landing page for our marketing trivia game offer to give it a little oomph and emphasize its game show-esque look and feel. Animated GIFs are great for catching readers' attention and making your content just a little bit more interesting. To learn how to create an animated GIF, check out this simple how-to blog post. And to learn more about how to use them in your marketing, this post will do the trick.
10) Hide Easter Eggs
No, I'm not talking about colorful, hard-boiled eggs here. In the internet world, an Easter egg refers to "an intentional inside joke, hidden message, or feature." And from the reader's perspective, there's nothing more fun than a well-hidden Easter egg. You know why? Because there's a sense of exclusivity associated with them. It also makes you feel wicked smart when you actually discover one! Hiding Easter eggs adds a fabulous level of interactivity to your content, and it's also a great way to engage your readers and get them to come back.
One of my favorite Easter egg examples was hidden in the launch campaign for the return season of Arrested Development. In these examples, the brilliant marketers of the show hid messages to fans -- quotes from character Tobias Fünke -- in the code of the microsites that were created for the campaign:
(The above message reads, "Are you looking at my privates? Shame on YOU sir!")
You don't have to get as fancy as hiding messages in your website's source code either -- even just hidden messages that certain personas or long-time readers of your content would "get" can be a fun, yet simple, approach. Just be sure that any Easter eggs you hide not only appeal to your target audience, but also enhance (not take away from) your content.
What other suggestions do you have for injecting more "fun" into your content?
Originally published Oct 2, 2013 8:00:00 AM, updated August 27 2017