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Buzzfeed is the king of consistently creating quizzes that yield millions of views, and 75% of those views come from social sites, with Facebook being the largest driver of traffic. After looking at a lot of quizzes, we’ve come up with the top five things you must do to have a chance at viral success – check them out.
1. A title that stands out from the noise.
Over 80% of people will look at your title and decide if they want to take your quiz without any further input. That means you should really focus on the title first, instead of worrying so much about the rest of the quiz. Here at Interact, we may not have quite the traffic, of Buzzfeed, but we have seen over 3 million visits to our portfolio of quizzes, and have found that three title templates really stand out.
First, the “Which (blank) are you?” title. We ran a study to see how effective this title template is. I compared 227 quizzes with titles that contained the words “which”, “are” and “you” with 227 quizzes that didn’t have any of those words. These quizzes were selected at random from a set of 2775 quizzes.
The average number of views for a quiz that contains all three of those words is more than double the average for quizzes that have none of those words.
Now this finding, as with all the findings in this article is a correlation, not a causation – meaning that there is strong evidence to suggest that using the “Which (blank) are you?” title will lead to more quiz views, it’s not guaranteed.
A great example of the “Which (blank) are you?” title comes from The Red Lobster, who made a quiz “Which Red Lobster Endless Shrimp Flavor are you?” to promote their annual endless shrimp promotion.
The quiz was a hit on Facebook, racking up 78,000 likes in the first four days.
The Red Lobster has done an excellent job on Facebook and has a loyal following built up, but they also make sure every post is compelling, which this quiz was.
Second, the “actually” title: I’m not saying that adding the word “actually” to your quiz title can increase the average views by 69%, but it can. Again, I took a subset of 1375 Interact quizzes and divided them into two categories, quizzes where the titles include the word “actually” and quizzes where the title does not include the same word.
The average views for “actually” quizzes is 1305, whereas the average for quizzes without the word “actually” in the title is 770.
That’s a distinct and statistically significant difference.
Third, the celebrity comparison title: “Which celebrity are you like?” again, we did a test comparing quizzes with the word “celebrity” in the title against quizzes that didn’t have the same word. This test has the most drastic results of any of the three title tests.
I have a theory for why celebrity quizzes performed so drastically better than non-celebrity quizzes. I would assume that most celebrity quizzes are going on entertainment sites that get a lot of traffic that’s very generic. In other words, most of our customers who run marketing agencies probably didn’t use a celebrity title, whereas the newspapers and magazine websites were more likely to.
However, I think non-entertainment sites can learn a lot from the celebrity study. There are ways to use it. For example, if your quiz is “What’s your office personality?” for a co-working company, you could change it to “Which celebrity is your office personality like?” which would turn a normal quiz into a celebrity quiz.
2. A cover image that attracts minds.
Did you know that our minds are hard-wired to look for faces? Neither did I until I read a Time article about it. Turns out it’s our natural impulse to pick out faces, it’s an innate thing so that babies can find the right species to live with and don’t run off with a wolf pack instead of their parents. What that means for your quiz, however, is that you should use a picture of a person as the cover photo.
The way that Interact quizzes are set up (after many iterations) is that a majority of the real estate for the quiz cover is taken up by an image, so finding a nice picture of a person that actually relates to your quiz content is huge to the success of the quiz.
To help out with that, we’ve compiled a list of stock image sites that are completely free and you can use for your quiz. Make sure that you pick a picture of a person who is relevant to your quiz, nothing is worse than a random cover image that really has nothing to do with the quiz itself.
3. Quiz questions that are conversational
Talking naturally in your quiz can increase views by 1000% just by speaking like you normally do in real life? Let me explain a little bit. Let’s start with the fact that we talk about ourselves a lot in real life. A full 60% of what we say is about ourselves, and when we talk about ourselves, we in turn use words like “I” “you” and “we” a lot.
Let’s call those words personal pronouns, because they are pronouns and personal. Then, let’s compare quiz views to the number of personal pronouns present in the quiz content.
The result is drastic, it makes a big difference in quiz views if we speak naturally. This ties into the natural magic of quizzes. I think of quizzes as a portal between quiz writer and quiz taker. Unlike virtually every other form of content, quizzes allow for a direct interaction between two people. Instead of writing an article in anticipation of hundreds or thousands of people consuming the piece, you are writing a quiz in anticipation of one person answering your unique set of questions one at a time.
I think the “Pub Rule” sums up the conversational aspect of quizzes well. If you wouldn’t be comfortable asking a quiz question, in its exact wording, to a friend at a pub, don’t ask it in your quiz. This rule was created after the Irish Post was able to reach an astounding 25% of the Irish people living in London with one quiz – they invented the Pub Rule.
4. Quiz results that encourage sharing
So what does it mean to “encourage sharing” – of course you want to have people to share your quiz. What it means is you should write quiz results in a way that actually makes your quiz takers want to share your quiz. So what do we want to share? Mostly things that make us look good, Facebook is really just a big message board for our accomplishments, and your quiz should feed into that.
Again, I wanted to test the hypothesis that positive quiz results would lead to more social shares. To do this, we collected 2000 tweets that originated from Interact quiz results and analyzed them for positive trigger words like “great” “awesome” and “excellent”
An astounding 3/4 of tweets contain one of our positive trigger words. In general quiz results that feed the ego of your quiz takers will get shared more.
A great example of this comes from HostelWorld, the number one booking site for Hostels around the world. Their quiz results were titled with things like “The YOLO Fiend” and then filled with hilarious and positive descriptions. The result is more than 40,000 views, with 90% of the traffic coming from Facebook and Twitter.
5. A plan for how sharing will work
The best quizzes can see the future, and prepare for it. Your quiz will be shared on Facebook and other social sites as long as it doesn’t suck, which it shouldn’t if you follow this guide. Let’s look at how your quiz will show up on Facebook (when a quiz taker shares it).
The formula goes like this “I got (my result)(title of quiz)” so in the example above, my result is “Almost there: Take Some Red Cross Lessons to Refresh Your Skill!” and the title is “Do you actually know how to swim?” When the social media team at The Red Cross put this quiz together, they made sure that each quiz result fit well with the title of the quiz, and the results were excellent, with thousands of Facebook shares and vibrant discussions stemming from it.
Do a pre-quiz check to make sure all the results will show up nicely on Facebook when your awesome visitors share your quiz.
Well that’s it, those are the keys to making a quiz like Buzzfeed, and ensuring the greatest chance of success.