Content Marketing
Basic Instinct: What Makes People “Eat” Your Content Like the Dickens

Basic Instinct: What Makes People “Eat” Your Content Like the Dickens

July 13, 2016
4 min read

We all remember Basic Instinct with Sharon Stone’s iconic scene in a cop shop, don’t we? Many believe that nothing matters more than sex when it comes to human basic instincts. (Freud would approve!)

The reality is, the gradation of our basic instincts is as follows:

  1. The instinct of survival.
  2. The instinct of worship.
  3. The instinct of procreation.

What’s my point? Look:

Human beings are selfish creatures. They crave for content able to satisfy their needs and prove they are awesome (or they can become awesome after consuming your content).

Do you consider human instincts when generating content?

If so, congrats! People will consume your content like the dickens. If not, it’s high time to change the approach to content creation.

Let’s leave survival and worship for a minute. There are five instincts, aka needs making people read and share your content regardless its form (whether it’s a text, picture, video, or interactive elements), and they are your powerful weapon of turning bare facts into magic unicorns.

1) The instinct of ingestion

Food! Did you say “food”?

Have you ever thought about why cooking TV shows and blogs are so popular?

We see interesting discussions and recipes, but our subconsciousness “sees” FOOD. Recognizing the basic instinct is satisfied, we feel reassured. Yeah, this food is on your device, but you have a fridge able to give you some real food, don’t you?

HD images of scrumptious dishes making your mouth water motivate us to dig deeper, click on them, read recipes… That’s why blogs about cooking are so popular. And that’s why big media channels have a column about cooking for engaging visitors and driving more traffic.

buzzfeed images
Image via BuzzFeed

Even if your niche has nothing to do with food, you can always play upon the meaning of words to influence your readers’ instinct of ingestion.

time management cheif
Image via Time Management Chef

2) The instinct of action

Here’s the challenge:

Turn off your mobile device, lie down to a sofa, and do nothing: no Internet, no books, no movies, no thoughts… How long can you stand it?

A human being needs to do something.

All the time.

At least, to think.

Isn’t it a reason we love content about travels? Bright images of landscapes, interesting facts about new places, personal stories of people who spend months abroad – such content creates an illusion of presence, satisfying the instinct of action.

Various interactive elements on your blog can satisfy this instinct, too. Quizzes (I’ve spent 23 minutes on BuzzFeed and 10 minutes on Guess the Writer when looking for samples), simple browser games, or articles with built-in interactive elements (slides, click-to-know more images) – they all catch the eye and make visitors spend more time on your website.

3) The instinct of reflection

Self-consciousness and self-analysis matter.

Who am I? Why am I this kind of a person?

How can I interact with the world around?

What can I do to become better?

In search of harmony and self-understanding, people consume hacks, tips, tricks, advice, and strategies that would answer all questions or help to find ways of reflection with others and outer world.

Generate content to satisfy the instinct of reflection, and it will always be appealing and viral.

Books all best leaders (marketers, businessmen, speakers, etc.) read; tools to use for better productivity; strategies that boost motivation; hacks for introverts to survive in the world of extroverts; things preventing you from happiness (success, love, wealth) – all these topics are about reflection.

And the list is endless…

4) The instinct of creativity

— Are you individuals?
— A crowd: “Yes! We’re individuals!”
— A single voice from the crowd: “I am not!”

Image via Panda Whale

We all want to be different from other people.

And if your content demonstrates something that might help people differentiate themselves from others with minimum efforts, it’s doomed to succeed.

The key words here are “minimum efforts”.

Reading your content about a girl singing in a shower and shooting to stardom after publishing the video at YouTube, people satisfy their instinct of creativity:

“Wow! It’s easy! If she can do that, I am more than able to replicate her success: I am creative, after all!”

Prove them they can be artists.

Show them it’s easy to be creative.

5) The instinct of procreation

The most interesting part comes.

Everybody bucks up here. Do you feel its influence?

Any content satisfying the instinct of procreation overtly or covertly will be popular with people. Sometimes it dominates over the instinct of ingestion, and copywriters aren’t shy to make use of it:

bra ads
Image via Persuasion and Influence

Jon Morrow from Smart Blogger determines lust as one of the core human emotions, suggesting to use words that inspire this emotion and, therefore, satisfy the instinct of procreation (indirectly, of course) when writing content.

This trick can help you make almost anything intriguing.

That’s all very fine, but…

Considering human instincts for shaping content, don’t forget about its filling.

Gilding gives nothing but negative reaction of recipients. So, be careful while choosing words for your content and use tricky elements only where appropriate.

Do not overplay!

As we all know, too much water drowned the miller.

2 thoughts on “Basic Instinct: What Makes People “Eat” Your Content Like the Dickens

  1. Aaron Orendorff

    Flippin’ brilliant (and visceral) post! Great breakdown on the instincts and examples to boot.

    Sharing this thing like crazy. 😀

  2. Lesley Vos

    Thank you, Aaron! Honored to hear such feedback from you 🙂

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Lesley Vos

With 9+ years in marketing, Lesley specializes in sales copywriting and storytelling. She's a regular contributor to many publications on business, digital marketing, and self-growth. You could see her works at Moz, Content Marketing Institute, CXL, and WordStream, and feel free to find more on Twitter @LesleyVos.