A Convincing Argument for Convincing Content


Especially, but not exclusively with marketing content – we often find ourselves seeking out the secret sauce for changing someone's mind to suit our own objective. Whether with colleagues, customers, prospects, bosses, or even our kids – this is a skill that’s in high demand indeed.

Well, according to scientists who studied debates on Reddit, there are some common elements that comprise a convincing argument for a convincing argument; and, by extension, for convincing marketing messages.

Reddit is a social media, social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website. Reddit’s registered community members submit text posts or direct links and then users can vote on submissions up or down to organize the posts and determine their position on the site's pages. As of 2016, Reddit had 542 million monthly visitors (234 million unique users), ranking #11 most visited web-site in US and #25 in the world. (SimilarWeb 2016) Needless to say, Reddit is a worthy and reliable barometer of social trends for interest, engagement, resonance, and conversion (or convincing – in this case).

To see what it takes to convince others of your point of view, Cornell University scientist did a study about the very topic, examining activity on ChangeMyView, a Reddit forum where people pose arguments and ask others to challenge them.

The scientist found that the arguments that did win people over had similar elements.

I believe that these same elements can be our allies in constructing engaging and converting marketing messages and content. Let’s take a look:

  • Differentiate your message: the investigating scientists found that using the same words as those used in the original argument posed on the Reddit forum – were less likely to convert. Be original. It’s not new. But sometimes it’s worth being reminded.

  • Don’t quote the competition: furthermore, when the opposition used quotations from the original argument, their position was generally weakened.

  • Use specific examples: this one makes perfect sense. A clear and simple example is much more effective than any explanation can ever be.

  • Use “the” vs. “a”: the researchers also found that "the" is more effective than “a.” The punch, it seems, is much more impactful than a punch. Furthermore, the more persuasive arguments used "for example" and "for instance" more frequently.

  • Hedge your bets: That is, those who noted in their arguments that their point “could be the case" vs. “is the case” softened the tone of the argument and made it more likely to be accepted.

  • Be calm and steady: highly emotional and overly enthused arguments were found to be less successful.

Looking to craft a strikingly convincing message that will convert? Get in touch and let’s do great marketing together >>