When you’re building a website, the secret to building a large audience of readers and customers fast is all about “pulling triggers.”
Emotional “hot” triggers.
And while some people call this manipulation, the truth is that it’s just smart marketing.
That said, today I want to share with you a simple, easy-to-replicate formula for pulling the most powerful “hot trigger” of them all.
Not only can this generate a tremendous amount of attention for you and your business, it can rally your fans like nothing I’ve ever seen before… EVER.
To get started, let’s delve into some interesting research that shows you why this is all possible.
What Makes Content Go Viral?
About a year ago I revealed the secret behind what makes online content go viral.
It was based off research from Jonah Berger of Wharton Business School, and the answer was as simple as this:
After studying the “most emailed” list on the New York Times, the results indicated that content that evoked high-arousal emotions (anger, fear, awe) was the most viral type of content.
And that’s why the big secret behind building a large audience is all about pulling emotional triggers.
But the formula that I’m about to share with you leverages a specific high-arousal emotion plus a “little something else.”
A Simple, Yet Powerful Formula for Generating Traffic
Before I walk you through how this formula works, here’s the short of it:
Outrage + [the little something else] = Massive Traffic – Click to Tweet
Outrage is the specific high-arousal emotion that I believe can generate the most traffic and support for you and your business.
And the “little something else” is the key behind what makes this formula work like a charm. I’ll talk about that a bit later in this article, though.
First, let’s start with Outrage.
The Power of Outrage (and How It Works)
“Study the top stories at Digg or MSN.com and you’ll notice a pattern: the top stories all polarize people. If you make it threaten people’s 3Bs—behavior, belief, or belongings—you get a huge virus-like dispersion.”
Well, do you know what also happens when you question one of those 3 Bs?
People become outraged.
Every. Single. Time.
And what happens?
People go to great lengths to let everyone know how mad they are.
And you’ll often see a huge influx of traffic.
To nail this home…
How Ryan Holiday Leveraged The Power Of Outrage For Tucker Max
A few months ago, Tucker Max—a reformed, self-proclaimed asshole—tried to donate $500,000 to Planned Parenthood.
(Yes, you read that right, $500,000)
And Planned Parenthood turned it down.
Now I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Planned Parenthood, but they’re struggling for money BAD.
They literally need every single penny they can get, and they were too proud to take Tucker Max’s money because of his reputation.
(And as a side note, I’m sure there are going to be zealots in the comments talking about religion, contraception, politics, and Tucker Max. If they do, that’s evidence that they didn’t read this article, but instead became outraged by simply mentioning a word that pissed them off. Nothing like a good case in point, right? )
Anyway, as I said, outrage ensued.
There were three different camps of people:
1. The people who were pro Planned Parenthood, and they believed they should have accepted Tucker Max’s money.
(These people were pissed at Planned Parenthood because it seemed like they were putting their pride before helping people).
2. The people who were pro Planned Parenthood, but believed associating with Tucker Max would be a huge mistake.
(These people were pissed that Tucker Max had the gall to offer money to Planned Parenthood)
3. The people who hate Planned Parenthood, for whatever reason, and were pissed at both Planned Parenthood and Tucker Max.
(These people just hated both Tucker Max and Planned Parenthood for whatever reason, and wanted everyone to know about it).
And that’s when Ryan Holiday stepped in…
Over on Forbes, Ryan Holiday wrote an inflammatory article entitled “Why wouldn’t planned parenthood take $500,000?”
And what happened?
Those 3 groups of people blew the article up.
They BLEW it up.
The last I checked, there was:
- 6,467 Facebook shares.
- 2,528 Tweets
- 141,146 pageviews.
What’s amazing though is this:
Ryan Holiday is a self-professed media manipulator, and it’s clear that he engineered this entire thing.
He knew that Tucker attempting to donate money to Planned Parenthood was a win-win situation.
You see, I’ve read his new book (affiliate link), and it’s clear to me that Ryan knows that Outrage is one of the best sources of traffic.
(He just wrote another article over on Tim Ferriss’s blog about how he essentially used Outrage to create 5 top-performing American Apparel ads).
But after analyzing this, and I’m sure Ryan will agree with me here, I believe there was something else going on that made this PR campaign a real success.
The Secret Behind Why Ryan Holiday’s Article Went Viral
What happens when you have 3 groups of people with competing view points about things related to what Tim Ferriss calls the 3 Bs (behavior, belief, and belongings)?
A huge controversy. A huge fight.
What happens when there’s a huge fight?
People have vested interested in winning that fight, and they’ll do anything in their power to win it…
It just so happens that when a fight like this occurs online, people try to “win” that fight by doing two things:
1. Sharing the article on social media (alongside their opinions, whether it’s positive or negative)
2. Writing follow-up articles explaining their view point in detail.
And guess what… In both cases this is GREAT for traffic.
Now remember the formula I shared with you earlier?
Outrage + [the little something else] = Massive Traffic
Well, that “little something else” is a controversy.
So, the complete formula is this:
Outrage + Controversy = Massive Traffic – Click to Tweet
And I can say in my experience it works…
Every. Single. Time.
A Quick Personal Example…
For example, last year when I published a simple article called “The Content is King Myth Debunked” Social Triggers exploded with traffic.
A commonly held belief at the time was that “Content is King” and I challenged it.
I then reached out to web designers… people who I knew would agree with me… and told them about this new data I found that suggested “design is king.”
Naturally, they loved it, and supported me.
I then reached out to writers… people who I knew who would disagree with me… and they were pissed because I challenged their commonly held belief.
What ended up happening next was that there was a controversy between writers and designers, and I was able to generate tens of thousands of hits to a brand-new blog.
All because of the simple formula: Outrage + Controversy = Massive traffic.
How Can You Start Using Tactics Just Like This To Generate Traffic?
First, you should write down the simple formula “Outrage + Controversy = Massive Traffic” and remember it forever.
I’ve personally used this formula over the last 6.5 years across many different blogs, and I’m pretty sure Ryan Holiday uses it too.
But more important, I highly suggest you pick up Ryan Holiday’s new book “Trust Me, I’m Lying.”
Even though many of the strategies he shares will fall into the “Dark Arts of Media Manipulation” you can often adapt his strategies while maintaining the high ground.
(I’ve used many similar strategies during my time as a marketer, and I’ve never compromised my ethical standards).
Plus, you should arm yourself with the knowledge of these dark arts so you can protect you and your business from people trying to take advantage of you in the future.
Go grab Ryan Holiday’s book right here (that’s an Amazon affiliate link).
And then, do me a favor and let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.
(Or, if you’ve already bought his book, share your opinion about it thus far in the comments. One person on Amazon said “I love the news and consider myself a fairly knowledgeable consumer of the internet, and the stuff in this book about sites like Gawker and TechCrunch made me choke.”)
If you’re still on the fence about investing less than 20 bucks in a book that will change the way you think about driving traffic online, watch this awesome book trailer that was created by Simplifilm for Trust Me, I’m Lying.