You probably shouldn’t read this.

But you did anyway. Isn’t it weird how negative association, warnings, and diversions pique interest?

Don’t worry, there’s nothing that you shouldn’t see here. All will become clear by the end of the article (if not sooner) and you’ll understand why I started all of this off so weirdly.

See, I saw a post on LinkedIn recently that simply read something along the lines of:

‘Sorry to everyone about that. You weren’t supposed to see it.’.

The post BOOMED, with well over a thousand comments constantly being pushed up by new comments and the amount of likes to match. I couldn’t help but see this post every time I logged in for days. Mutual connections were liking it, some saying how clever it was, some asking about her original post (which was non-existent in the first place).

But that’s just one person who was trying to build their network. They got their name out, sure, but missed out anything about their job or purpose. What’s the point in all this?

‘Don’t Push That!’

First of all, it’s probably better to try and explain why this works so well.

Think about practically any cartoon. Whether it’s Ren and Stimpy (a personal favourite), Family Guy, or virtually any other, there’s almost always a joke where someone does something they’re explicitly told NOT to do. Whether it be an act of defiance, curiosity or sheer stupidity, someone will inevitably push the button.

Don't push it Stimpy!

The unknown takes our curiosity by force. If someone knows something we don’t, and states it clearly, we have a compulsion to know. Sometimes it’s a feeling that it was something important. Sometimes it’s that we don’t want to miss out on potential ‘gossip’, or insider information that shouldn’t have been leaked. Maybe it’s that we don’t want to be missing out and want to be part of the group who know. Maybe we want to be part of the select few as opposed to the group who DON’T know.

Either way, if someone feels like there’s something to know, and it could be something they might be interested in, they are inclined to want to know more.

So how do I apply this fantastic, ingenious marketing knowledge?

A fine question, a fine one indeed. You’re keen!

There’s examples everywhere online of this kind of marketing; just check high profile social media pages. Celebrities do it, artists and filmmakers do it, companies do it. LinkedIn users do it by making use of formatting and rhetorical questions to hide interesting information behind the ‘see more…’ button.

Whether there’s an event coming up, or new blogs, material or projects, you might see a hint or ‘coming soon’ image. Film companies do this with major releases far ahead of schedule with teaser posters or trailers. Social media pages might ask you a rhetorical question, to make you think. The longer you spend thinking about a pages post, the more time you dedicate to that page and brand (even if the post was essentially irrelevant).

Cloverfield's marketing campaign was new, unique and original.
J.J. Abrams’ box office smash Cloverfield had a minimalistic, viral marketing campaign. It was highly effective in building interest through speculation without any major information being given.

By all means, be upfront about your business, ethos, and services by straight-shooting: never be secretive about things that need to be apparent. But to grab attention with your marketing and engage your audience and customer base, try something unorthodox.

Why not ask a question that might be relevant while not directly about your company? I did this recently with a Facebook post asking what everyone’s dream job was when they were kids. It turned out to be one of the more successful posts on our page this month! The subject matter was flippant, it did nothing to spread knowledge of our services. But it caught people’s attention, it was a bit of fun, and it engaged our candidates – once they’re looking at our post, they can look at our page and learn about our services themselves.

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