The Suspenseful Social Media Secret: How to Keep Your Readers Reading

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

cliffhanger story tellingThere’s an immensely useful and effective technique in creating healthcare content that we see all the time. You might recognize it as a “cliffhanger” or a “page turner.” But by any label, experienced as well as freshman writers can use this suspenseful social media secret to keep their audience connected, interested and reading more.

Everyone enjoys a good story. But an added element of suspense and curiosity keeps your social media readers coming back for more. If the story is well told, the audience naturally wants to know what happens next. A slightly modified cliffhanger or content teaser keeps the points to the next part of the social media message.

In the broadcast radio industry, audience ratings are based in part on how long listeners stay tuned. Television programs, soap operas, books and magazine articles dangle suspenseful situations in incomplete endings that sell what’s next in the series.

Why this social media secret is important…

In marketing and advertising, we know the “what’s next” device increases the time a reader invests in the content. Increasing the click-through rate is an opportunity to present and educate the reader with more information.

To help get you started, here are 15 examples that you’re welcome to adapt to your social media posts. There are dozens of ways to connect to a reader’s curiosity and “what’s next” interest. But to illustrate, you might write something like:

  • If you think this looks unusual, wait until you see the rest
  • She couldn’t believe what she was seeing, so she grabbed the camera
  • This is the little-known reason why _____
  • I had no idea that this was true
  • Some weird things about _____. You will not believe #6
  • This familiar (photo subject) is nothing like _____ now
  • You’re not going to believe how (this) turned out
  • The final photo in this series is (amazing) (chilling) (hilarious)
  • What happens next is not to be believed
  • ( # ) signs that _____
  • ( # ) things that (someone) doesn’t want you to know
  • The (lies) (jokes) (blunders) that you’ll hear about _____
  • Nevertheless, don’t be fooled by _____
  • You really need to see this. Trust me.
  • She couldn’t believe that she was seeing. So she grabbed a camera and _____

Page turners, cliffhangers and the Zeigarnik effect…”

It seems like human nature has a natural interest in stories with cliffhangers. It’s a way to offer one more point of persuasion and shareable healthcare content. What’s more, a theory in psychology says that people remember incomplete or interrupted tasks better than completed ones. For more on that one, take a minute and look up “Zeigarnik effect.”

Stewart Gandolf
Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.



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