What in the world does the cheeky cable fashion show What Not to Wear have to do with effective blogging?
Have I finally pushed this analogy thing too far?
Nope… this one is easy. But you’re going to have to read the rest to see for yourself.
OK, let’s proceed. But just to make sure we’re all on the same page, let’s start with a quick summary of what What Not to Wear is all about.
Depending on where you live, What Not to Wear is either a fashion show on The Learning Channel featuring Stacy London and Clinton Kelly, or a fashion show on the BBC starring Lisa Butcher and Mica Paris. The show, which originated in the UK, is an ambush-style reality program where fashion victims are critiqued on their current clothing choices, and then (often brutally) coached on buying an entire new wardrobe, all for the delight of the viewing audience.
Why Wrong Beats Right
Truth is, the approach taken by What Not to Wear actually helps both its victims and the audience make smarter fashion choices. And by adopting the reason the show is an effective educational program into your own blogging, you’ll be able to truly get through to your readers, which is a benefit to everyone involved.
The key is to focus on mistakes, or what not to do, instead of focusing only on what to do. So, if you’re writing a “how to” post that will do well in social media, your examples should focus on what not to do in order to best illustrate the right thing to do.
Don’t believe me? Well, there’s actual psychological research that backs this up.
Fighting Fire With Mistakes
Wendy Joung performed behavioral training research on firefighters in 2006, and the results are published in Applied Psychology. She and her colleagues found that firefighters trained with case studies that focused on others who had made poor decisions and suffered adverse consequences ultimately showed better judgment and better adaptive thinking than a control group provided with case studies that focused on positive results.
Bottom line—mistakes teach better than successes. You might already know this from your own life.
Increase Attention, Engagement and Retention
Training programs and content marketing face the same natural enemies—lack of attention, poor engagement, and unmemorable approaches. Focusing on mistakes naturally attracts attention, increases engagement, and produces lessons that are vividly memorable… it’s just the way we’re wired.
This is much of what you’re aiming for with blogging. Because no matter your ultimate goals, a lack of attention, engagement or retention will not allow you to get there.
So, to create breakthrough blog posts, you should create vivid illustrations with the mistakes others have made, or simply mistakes in general. You’ll find that you defeat the demons that a lack of attention, poor engagement, and bad retention represent.
Still not convinced?
Here are the two most popular posts in Copyblogger history:
Should you make this strategy the focus of every post? No, and I certainly don’t. But keep in mind that for any type of “how to” or instructional content, adding in examples of “what not to do” will make you a more effective communicator.