Attention spans have never been shorter…
…and if you want your ideas to spread, you must create sound bites.
“What’s a sound bite,” you ask?
A sound bite is a short message, often no longer than 10 words, that describes the main idea of your content or sales message.
It’s easy-to-remember, easy-to-quote, and often get shared by bloggers and by journalists.
Now how do sound bites generate web traffic, exactly?
The Art of the Sound Bite
A few weeks ago, when I wrote the article about choosing the best font, I ran a sound bite test.
Many of you may have caught it, but if you didn’t, no worries. Since you read Social Triggers, I’ll tell you all about it.
Okay, so do you remember the sound bites I included in that article?
You know, the ones where I said “size 14 is the new size 12” and “size 16 is the new size 12?”
Well, that was the test, and I was delighted with the results.
Not only did people share my sound bites, they also emailed me about them… tweeted them… and even Googled them (word for word!)
What’s this have to do with increasing blog traffic?
Well, that article was shared over 200 times on Twitter, almost 100 times on Facebook, and generated around 9,000 hits.
Not bad :-).
Now the question is why did it work?
For that, let’s dive deeper…
Why Sound Bites Win
If you fail to communicate short, clear, and memorable messages, you are at risk for:
…falling by the way side
…and becoming invisible
Harsh, I know, but that’s the reality of the world today where people get bombarded by thousands of messages each day.
That’s why sound bites are vital, and the pithier, the better.
Remember that famous sound bite from Franklin D. Roosevelt “The only thing we have to fear is – fear itself?”
Millions of other people do too :-D.
Not only are sound bites easy to recognize, they’re also easy to remember, easy-to-share, and they stand out in the sea of words found online.
And when people stumble on them, they’re more like to quote and talk about them, thus sending you more traffic!
How Can You Create Sound Bites?
Sound bites don’t happen on accident.
As a matter of fact, sound bites are often rehearsed, tested, and then delivered at opportune moments (like media interviews or presentations, for example).
As people who create content, you know the power of sound bites in your content—I showed you my results.
But how can you create sound bites that work?
That’s where these three sound bite examples come into play:
Sound Bite Example #1: The Power of Contrast
To this day, people still quote and remember John F. Kennedy’s famous sound bite “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
Why is this quote so popular?
It’s all about the contrast between the two points, and that contrast between the former and the latter, create a ‘black and white’ situation that’s easy to remember.
As Dr. Atkinson, the author of Speech-Making and Presentations Made Easy, said “using contrasts is a real winner. Research shows 33% of the applause a good speech gets is when a contrast is used.”
How can you create this specific type of contrast?
You’ve got to think about things in the “black and white.” You’ve got to create a dichotomy, and you’ll be good to go.
Sound Bite Example #2: The Rule of Three
You’d be hard-pressed to say you’ve never heard of the phrase “Veni, Vidi, Vici,” or as the english translation goes, “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
It’s easy to remember, and easy to quote.
The rule of three is at work. The first item creates tension, the second builds it up, and the third releases it.
And as Dr. Atkinson points out in his book “Our Masters’ Voices,” he calls these ‘claptraps’ because an audience often applauses at the completion of the third point.
But more important, our brain is hardwired to remember three items, which is why this sound bite example works so well.
To create this sound bite yourself, it’s simple. Now that you know that it exists, instead of describing ideas with two or four adjectives, you should shoot for three.
Sound Bite Example #3: Violate Expectations
For as long as you can remember, you were told that size 12 was the RIGHT size font…
…and that’s why my sound bite “Size 16 is the NEW size 12” worked so well.
It violated expectations, and thus, was easy to remember.
If you want to create a sound bite like this, you’ll just need to find something people deem true, and counteract it (assuming you can back it up).
Unfortunately, this type of sound bite is one of the toughest to create, but the best way to create ’em is to test ’em.
For example, I stumbled on my sound bite by accident when I dropped that phrase during a speaking engagement. The audience loved it, and thus I wrote it down.
And that leads me to my next point…
Now You Know About Sound Bites… You’ll likely Already Have Some
When you first learn about sound bites, you might rush to create some of your own.
And while that’s a great strategy, chances are you’ve already got some. All you gotta do is to find them in your content, presentations, and sales messages.
Now I pass it to you…
What sound bites do you plan on using in your content?
And do you plan on trying out my sound bite tweetable strategy?