Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it’s giving new life to online journalism (Click to tweet this). Quizzes, GIFs and odd, unexpected stories are taking over the Web, and not just on your social media feeds. Increasingly, these “curiosities” are attracting the interest of journalists, bloggers and content marketers who are struggling to find a way to connect with audiences online. The Atlantic coined the term “curiosity journalism” to include all those strange-but-interesting stories that don’t fit under the umbrella of traditional news.
Years ago, these journalists wrote stories for newspapers and magazines where immediate feedback was all but impossible. These days audiences can vote on what they want to read with their mouses, clicking through stories that interest them and staying away from those that don’t. The stories that win the most clicks will be capitalized on by writers eager to drive up traffic, and that’s where the curiosities come in.
Curiosity journalism creates a huge number of opportunities for branded and content marketing. Here’s a look at how you can employ them in your marketing strategy.
Creating a Curiosity
Curiosity journalism is a loose term that can encompass anything out of the ordinary that a journalist investigates. Generally speaking, they’re the quirky types of things that show up in your personal social media feeds as GIFs or Internet memes that journalists take a closer look at, hoping to uncover something of significance or interest.
The Atlantic cites the example of the “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk,” a quiz that went viral on The New York Times site. You could not log on to Facebook during the week between Christmas and New Year’s without seeing at least one person share that darn quiz. It’s exactly the sort of buzzy, high-traffic content that marketers should be aiming to create.
The Benefits of Curiosity Journalism
There’s a big payoff for content marketers who manage to make one of these “curiosities” catch the eye of a journalist. When you create high-quality content like this, you can get the secondary benefit of coverage in online or offline magazines, newspapers or blogs. This brings an entirely new audience to your subject and can result in huge traffic gains as well.
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Here are some examples of great bait for curiosity journalism that you can create for your business or clients:
- GIFs: Whether they’re funny, silly or delivering a very sharp point, GIFs are great for sparking the sort of conversation that journalists love to get in on.
- Quizzes: The popularity of the NYTimes.com dialect quiz is one of a huge number of quizzes that suck people in, from “What Friends Character Are You” to the color quiz, which promises to discern your personality type in under five minutes.
- Comics: Like GIFs, these make people laugh, but they can also make points about a great range of subject matters.
- Off-the-wall stories. For instance, this story about a car that got stuck going 125 miles per hour for more than an hour generated a huge amount of traffic for The Atlantic.
The New Infographic?
The use of infographics has exploded over the past few years, and there’s no indication that will slow in 2014. They use pictures to tell stories and make points that sometimes get lost in text. Still, it’s never too early to be on the lookout for the next big trend, and two major curiosity journalism facets, GIFs and quizzes, could be just that.
They have a lot in common with infographics. All three have the ability to:
- Be shared easily across social networks
- Go viral, thanks to all those shares
- Engage people visually
- Make people laugh
- Make people think
By harnessing the power of curiosity and using it to create content that will be attractive to journalists, you’ll get your business or client greater exposure on social media, better traffic and the sort of buzz that will keep them in people’s minds for weeks to come.