Successful Content - It’s All In The Mind

Enjoy Digital
By Enjoy Digital
5 minutes to read

With so many successful types of content available, such as amazing Infographics, useful how-to guides, and even sneezing pandas, why does some content work so well?

Danny Ashton, of NeoMam Studios, conducted his excellent SASCon talk How to Produce Persona Success Content about the clever psychology behind what results in a piece of content ranking amongst some of the best, and being so compelling it leaves people no choice but to share it and discuss it, online and offline.

Danny aimed to show us the true nature and process of the reasons behind an engaging piece of content’s success by explaining the Triune theory. In other words,it all starts with the brain.

Successful Content - It’s All In The Mind

According to Neuroscience (the study of how the brain works), there are 3 stages to our evolutionary brain, each with different characteristics:

The Reptilian brain

Successful Content - It’s All In The Mind

The oldest form of the brain, and which links us to every animal on the planet. It determines our most basic bodily instincts; to detect danger, find food, etc. Reptilian content usually has the widest reach as we are engaged by content discussing or showing (even in a subconscious way) these aspects of human survival:

The success of Reptilian content is usually determined primarily by the reptilian brain and the 3 second rule, such as why we sometimes respond more readily to visuals rather than long pieces of text. It takes our brain 1/10 of a second to transfer an image to the brain to understand its meaning, and we just can’t process a chunk of text as easily as we do visual information.

This is because reading text is a relatively ‘new’ human phenomenon. According to historians, the written word has only been in use for about 5,500 years in our immense human evolutionary process! We have a much more visual mind than textual, as our eyes have evolved so we can immediately process visuals, of whether we have seen some food or spotted danger, to increase our chances of survival and success.

Our Reptilian brain applies this 3 second rule subconsciously to a piece of content we have just seen. We can surmise in 3 seconds whether to engage with it. If not, the content is inevitably going to fail, but if we decide it is worth our time and could help instead of hinder our ‘survival’, it passes our Reptilian brain and transcends to the Peomammalian brain.

The Limbic Peomammalian brain

Successful Content - It’s All In The Mind

The next stage of our mental evolution relates to mammals, specifically the apes we evolved from. It determines our emotional and empathetic responses, making us ‘beings with feelings’.

Apes are caring and social, just like us, and we feel a vast range of complex emotions; from happiness to anger, sadness to surprise, and many more. These feelings can be manipulated through emotional responses to content, such as making us laugh, or angry, and depending on our emotional state determines whether we share and discuss the content online and offline, or not.

Successful Content - It’s All In The Mind

The emotional Peomammalian brain makes you read or engage with the content if it holds an emotional appeal and leaves an impression with you. People respond to emotional content the most, because there is such a vast range of emotions to appeal to. These emotional responses are hard-wired into us from birth, allowing us to react to other’s words and emotions.

Being able to pick up on another’s emotional state, especially if it relates to danger, lends support to our reptilian brain, to ensure our survival.

This comprehension of the human condition is something which develops as we get older, and we begin to seek to solve the negative emotions, and promote the positive feelings we crave to feel happier through cognitive self-fulfilment. This leads us to our most advanced and evolved aspect of our brain; the Neomammalian brain.

The Neo-Cortex Neomammalian brain

This is the most evolved and advanced aspect of our brain, and defines our humanity. It is the ‘newest’ part of the brain’s evolution, as it involves higher thinking, with critical evaluations and problem solving and creativity, and relates to our mind, self and identity.

Humans consider their place in the world around us, and we want to do and achieve great things and leave our mark for future generations. But before we get too philosophical, what does this mean for modern society? Our brain never ceases in its capacity to learn, and we are always looking for solutions to make our lives easier, to assist our survival and well-being and help us excel. This ‘pursuit of happiness’ denotes from the Peomammalian brain, where we continuously seek experiences, situations and emotions which make us feel good and to better our selves and our lives.

So today, the Neomammalian brain is focused on modern man’s issues of learning and advancement, and is most interested in content which inspires us, as opposed to just seeking Reptilian survival or Peomammalian emotional responses.

Successful Content - It’s All In The Mind

The problem-solving Neomammalian brain will usually seek content for answers, or share other content if it has helped you in some way and you would like to share this with others to help them too. This niche content can be highly successful if you tap into Neomammalian motivations, and can gain access to new and important audiences. Some of the best and most interesting to Neomammalian content usually centres on an issue or a problem you wouldn’t usually think about, but is something which would be very appealing to your target audience.

Me, Myself, and I - Content and the Triune Brain

The focus of Danny’s talk was about understanding our audience, and so how to best appeal and attract them to our content and client messages, creating successful human interactions and building lasting relationships with potential future customers of your business.

Successful content should engage all aspects of the human brain, and by understanding the audience’s psychology we can ensure our content is versatile and appeals to the right people across the widest audience and is truly successful with the use of emotional and rational concerns, responses and solutions.

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