Celebrity Effect: This Timeless Framework From Alfred Hitchcock Will 2x Your Content's Reach
Expert Of The Day: Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) is one of the most influential directors in the history of cinema. In his 60-year career, his films were nominated for a whopping 46 Academy Awards.
Today, I bring you part 2 of my deep dive on Mr. Hitchcock.
But first, I need to set some context…
The Big Challenge Of Thought Leadership
Over the six cohorts of teaching our year-long program on thought leadership, I’ve noticed that experts almost universally have the same challenge when sharing their ideas publicly.
They’ve spent years:
Building up their expertise
Practicing their expertise
Yet, they’ve spent almost no time studying what actually captures and keeps people’s attention.
As a result, when these experts publish online, almost no one clicks on their title or continues past their intro. As a result, the algorithms bury their content.
The end result is that no one reads these ideas that expert spent years developing.
It’s sad and true.
So the question becomes…
When someone is flipping through their social media newsfeed or their email inbox, what is it that causes them to click through to learn more?
Fascinated by this question, I’ve spent close to 2,000 hours doing Idea Connoisseurship in order to study what works online and what doesn't.
The #1 Key To Capturing Attention Based On 4,000 A/B Tests
Most specifically, I followed this process for Idea Connoisseurship:
Found the top performing content online with Buzzsumo.
Exported the titles, # of shares, and cover images into spreadsheets.
Searched for patterns of top performing titles
Tested those patterns in 4,000 A/B tests of titles
Below is a screenshot of a one of the analyses I did to give you a clear idea of the process:
From this and other analyses, I noticed that articles that mentioned authorities / celebrities seemed to perform much better.
When I added celebrity authority to my writing, it worked even better than I expected. Instead of seeing articles have tens of thousands of views, I started having articles with hundreds of thousands of views. Not only that, people started writing about my writing, which generated millions of more views. If you look at almost any of my Medium articles, you'll notice that I use a celebrity/expert to embody the idea.
From these surprising results, I had one question...
Why Does Celebrity Matter So Much?
When I first learned about the celebrity strategy from a managing editor at a top business publication, she said that the reason it works is because it makes ideas tangible and less abstract.
Over the years, I also found another reason it's so powerful. It makes the idea more credible. Given the choice between two ideas that are the same, we will ALWAYS gravitate toward the one that has the most authority.
This Hitchcock clip helps me understand the pattern on an even a deeper level...
The Surprising Power Of Familiarity
Hitchcock provides a thought experiment whose conclusion is impossible to deny.
Imagine you’re watching a movie. Someone is on the run. Hitchcock says...
If he's a familiar figure, average man, and also a familiar star, the story values are increased accordingly. In other words, if you walk along the street and you see a street accident and a man's lying there, you say, poor fellow knocked down by an automobile.
Take a second look, and it's your brother. Look at the difference in the emotions. And that's why, not only the identification, but the quality of identification also matters and is a contributory thing.
Now, when it comes to writing, it's impossible for us to feature the actual friends of all of our readers. But, we can do something that's close—add celebrities. By including celebrities that people are already familiar with and even care about, we can evoke a similar feeling of familiarity.