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6 Principles of Compelling Content

Good storytelling. Compelling ideas. Successful, shareable content. All are things content writers aspire to create. But just how do you create well-performing articles? And how do you do so consistently? Because as we all know, brands are producing content at an ever-increasing rate and there are pressures inherent to competition to delight consumers and deliver things that will garner a lot of engagement.

You know good content when you read it. It evokes an emotion (be it anger or happiness or anything in between) and stays with you for longer than the latest funny cat meme. But it’s a bit more difficult to actually pin down what made a great article so great. There is no strict formula, of course, just common building blocks that might lead to a strong piece.

The team at Fractl put together the below infographic that identifies six characteristics of successful campaigns. Here is a quick explanation of each of the six possible principles they lay out:

  1. Simple: Remember in middle school math class how they would teach you KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)? Well, the same principle applies with content creation. Can you concisely explain your topic? If not, you may need to go back to the drawing board and re-focus.
  2. Unexpected: An element of surprise or intrigue will help gain your audience’s attention quickly. No one wants to read about something they already know all about, right?
  3. ConcreteChip and Dan Heath, from who Fractl draws much of their conclusions, describe something as ‘concrete’ if it uses sensory language. Can you paint a picture in your head?
  4. Credible: I’ve had “site your [reliable] sources” drilled into me since I was a wee little thing. And I’m happy to report it remains very important. Credible, reliable sources are crucial if you hope to position yourself as a trustworthy authority.
  5. Emotional: Data will help boost your credibility but remember that people need to have a personal connection with the content as well. What feeling does your topic capture?
  6. Stories: Is it something you would tell your friends about? If you wouldn’t share it, chances are other people won’t.

Does your most recent piece of content contain all these aspects? Sure, it’s a checklist of sorts but don’t be perturbed when your content is all these things and it still doesn’t go viral. Remember, this is not an exact science.


Happy writing! I hope this helps bring your content from good to great.

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