Why Are You Sharing These Scientific Posts?: The Science of Science

A couple of years ago, when my little sister was three, I remember watching her as she turned over her dump truck and began to examine the wheels of its underside. I was fascinated that at three years old she wanted to understand how and why this toy truck was working. She wanted to see why it rolled with it’s wheels and to understand the workings of the gears it had in place.

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My little sister ended up knocking over these legos to check out what the container did.

Another part of my fascination was due to my own lack of fascination at that age. I don’t remember wanting to identify why certain components function the way that they did. I don’t actually recall gaining this curiosity until college in my history classes. In most of my classes I was instructed to answer why things panned out the way they did through cited sources and to always have some type of knowledge as to how events turned out. I had to back my historical papers with analysis and research, otherwise it was just a bunch of useless and powerless words.

This translated well into my job now as a marketer. I constantly have to show why things are working out the way they are. I have to proactively hypothesize and then maneuver marketing on the fly in order ensure that our marketing reaching the audience we want to use TrackMaven.

These may seem like all nebulous observations relative to the true essence of this post, but they were all reverse engineered thoughts as to questions I had recently about certain pieces of marketing doing extraordinarily well over others. Why were some components doing better than others? What was the common piece?

Ultimately each had to have an explanation of something, both my sister and I had to figure out why things were working the way they are. Science, psychology, data-driven, backed by research were all areas that answered the why and showed that missing piece. I wanted to flip over the dump truck to see how things worked.

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Examples of Science Backed Posts

What peaked my initial interest were the posts that I was always drawn too. For example, one of the first marketing books I ever read was Brainfluence by Roger Dooley. It discussed Neuromarketing and various techniques behind it. After I read Dooley’s book, I needed more and I started reading his blog. One post in particular that grabbed my attention had to do putting questions in your headlines. He called it the Jeopardy effect. Dooley stated that..

What worked even better than question headlines? The scientists found that making the tweets and headlines “self-referencing,” i.e., referring to the reader, provided an additional boost to the average click rates.”

EX: “Is your boss a jerk?” Performed better than “Are bosses jerks?” and “Bosses can be jerks sometimes.”

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This post by Dooley was essentially 3 times more effective than his average and gained over 300 social shares for his post.

The one post that truly peaked my interest from Dooley came when I shared a post through the TrackMaven twitter account.

This post was the psychology of of rankings (Power of Ten: The Weird Psychology of Rankings) and talked about content with numbered lists. Dooley states…

“One of the first things the scientists looked at was the distribution of “top lists” found in Google. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the vast majority of lists they found ended in zero, with five being a distant second. The theory behind these round-number category groupings is that our brains try to categorize assortments of items into groups, and a “top ten,” for example, is an easy to visualize chunk.”

Using numbers that people could separate into chunks with numbers ending in zero performed better than odd numbered posts.

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And then, I tweeted out a link to the article because I thought it would be interesting to our followers…

This tweet for TrackMaven was 15.94 times more effective than our average.

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Another example of these science driven posts come from Buffer, where they include research, data, science and psychology into at least a few posts a week. They how found a formula that works extremely well as their average total social shares can be anywhere from 600-10,000.

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This post on the science of colors has made it’s way back to me several times and both on Fast Company and on Buffer’s own blog received more than 25,000 social shares each.

Why are People So Intrigued by Science (5 Whys)

What made these posts so effective? How do they work? Why are people intrigued by science and driven to share it’s backings?I was reading Hooked: How To Build Habit Forming Products  and the author, Nir Eyal, explained the process to identify the underlying emotional trigger for when something could become a habit. He stated that there are 5 questions to ask…

  1. Why?
  2. Why?
  3. Why?
  4. Why?
  5. And…Why?

The progressions of the five whys is a question-asking technique in order to understand a particular problem. it often helps to deduce psychological and connections in an idea you are trying to identify whether it’s creating a product or solving a problem. Or even, identifying why science driven posts do so well.

I went through the five whys to determine why science works works in content marketing…

Problem: Posts backed by science, psychology, data, or research are always shared more and are more effective.

1. Why are the posts backed by science, psychology, data, or research?

Because they are very effective posts.

2. Why are they effective posts?

Because they have a high number of social shares and a lot of people are interacting with the posts.

3. Why are people interacting with the posts?

Because they want to share out the knowledge they learn and like the posts

4. Why do people want to share out they knowledge they learn and like the posts? 

To show that they know what they are talking about and are knowledgable. 

5. Why do people want others to know they are knowledgable? 

Because they want to be relied on for credible information.

Marketers Turned Scientists

I think it’s worth pointing out that I noticed as I was pulling quotes from the Jeopardy effect that Roger Dooley even talks about scientists in his posts. They are a way to reference, sound just, and make correct causations to help the overall credibility of your post. Backing your posts with an army of scientists instantly make your post almost scientifically factual. That’s only the start of it though.

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This could be one of the most meta posts I’ve ever written, but it’s worth noting all of our interests, especially marketers, why things work the way they do and why people are generally more interested in scientific things. I’ve seen in more in marketing recently, as marketers spend more money on data-driven tactics and the overall interest spikes.

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As both my little sister and I had to determine what was working and how things were working in the beginning, marketers are doing the same things we were doing in the past. No, I’m not implying that they are flipping their toys over to see how the wheels work, but they are diving deeper into actions their prospects are doing to scientifically identify the data backed ways to bring more leads into their pipelines.

Marketing isn’t a place to just blog, throw things at the wall and hope they stick. It’s not fluffy and its purpose actually bears weight. But in order to drive that purpose and impact marketing has to be backed by credible sources — science, psychology, and data. Marketers are becoming scientists themselves testing and hypothesizing what is working an what isn’t in order to proactively maneuver their campaigns for better success.

Sabel Harris See more of Sabel's posts

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