By Andrew Davis published April 25, 2013

Why You Should Create Content With a Hook

creating-content-hook-jetlev-devin-grahamWhat’s a hook?

If you’re going to create valuable content for your target audience, and you’re going to stick to a format, you must have a hook. Formats give your content structure; a hook gives it character. A hook is, quite simply, a unique content concept that is designed to ensnare and trap your unsuspecting audience into consuming and sharing your content.

Hooks enable your audience to build a relationship with your content each time it’s delivered. A twist on a familiar structure is what makes your content unique, but a hook is what gets people to talk about it.

Example: Devin Graham creates valuable video content

Photographer and storyteller Devin Graham creates energetic extreme sports music videos. That’s how I’d describe his hook. If you think mountain biking is extreme, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen Devin’s “huge bike jump into a pond” music video. Like snowboarding? Maybe you should experiment with saltboarding — that’s snowboarding pulled by ATVs on the salt flats in the desert. Like rock climbing? Check out his video about the world’s largest rope swing.

Devin releases a new extreme music video every week, so he’s got frequency down. His production value is phenomenal, and the substance of his music videos is consistently good. Quality? Check. His videos speak to a young, hip, male audience, and every content choice he makes — from the music he uses in his videos to the extreme experiments he chooses to shoot — directly appeals to this target audience. Want proof? in just over a year, his video content has generated 300 weekly subscribers and have been viewed more than 56 million times.

So, Devin is relevant, and he’s got a format that’s working for him — music videos. Though these brand attributes themselves aren’t particularly notable in the world of video, his unique hook sets his content apart from others on the crowded YouTube landscape.

The water jet pack

In early 2011, as Devin was getting his YouTube channel up and running, he happened on a mediocre marketing video for an extreme product he knew his audience would love. The product was called the JetLev R200. Check out the brand’s marketing video:

Devin approached the JetLev team about featuring its product in one of his signature music videos. Moreover, he offered to create this video content for free (all the company had to do was pay for his travel to Florida, where the company was based, and let him play around with their product).

“They were skeptical at first,” Devin remembers. “They imagined my YouTube channel was just a bunch of kids. The JetLev costs more than $100,000, which is a lot, if you’re hoping these kids are going to save up their allowance to buy one. I told them that, yes, my videos attract a lot of younger consumers, but those consumers have parents, and their parents have money.”

The brand agreed to have Devin come down and create a video showcasing the JetLev R200, and the end results were spectacular. Go ahead, see for yourself:

Through this unique hook, Devin’s video content managed to capture not only what a JetLev R200 is, but also the fun and excitement it generates for those lucky enough to ride one. More importantly, it helped build a memorable association between the JetLev brand and the engaging, visceral experiences depicted in all of Devin’s videos.

The results

Within a few weeks, the JetLev extreme music video had been viewed by more than 1 million people, attracting a wide range of JetLev’s target market of male viewers between the ages of 18 to 55. The JetLev team sent Devin an email describing a few more of the positive effects the video had on their business: Devin’s video had generated many more serious customer inquiries than even a four-minute piece that aired on several FOX television stations around the country had. When compared to the quick, one-time exposure JetLev received from FOX, Devin’s video kept generating interest: By August, the video had been viewed by 2 million people; by November, its views reached 3 million, and by July 2012, 5.4 million viewers had watched Devin’s Water Jet Pack video and were talking about it. That one piece of video content now has 9,100 comments and counting. Who’s watching that FOX news story today?

Powerful partnerships with a hook!

Devin’s channel is successful for one major reason: He’s got a hook that his audience loves. But the partnership between Devin and JetLev worked as a duet — a simple brandscape. Devin got access to a $100,000 piece of equipment few people had ever seen, and JetLev got awesome branded video content that successfully drove demand.

What if…

You created content with a smart hook like Devin’s? How would you twist your content to make it unique?

Devin’s JetLev story is just one of the many lessons marketers can learn about valuable content, how to create it, and who we can partner with to be more successful. Want more details on the JetLev video and its content marketing impact? Dive into Andrew Davis’ book, “Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships.”

Author: Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis’ 20-year career has taken him from local television to "The Today Show". He's worked for The Muppets in New York and marketed for tiny start-ups as well as Fortune 500 brands. In 2001, Andrew Davis co-founded Tippingpoint Labs, where he changed the way publishers think and how brands market their products. For more than a decade, as Tippingpoint’s chief strategy officer, Andrew rallied his team to change the way content creators think, authentic talent is nurtured, and companies market their products. Today, he’s traveling the globe sharing his insight, experience, stories, and optimistic ideals through his wildly fascinating speaking engagements, guest lectures and workshops. His most recent book, "Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships" hit shelves in September, 2012. Andrew is also an instructor for the Content Marketing Institute Online Training and Certification program. Follow Andrew on Twitter @TPLDrew.

Other posts by Andrew Davis

  • http://tommangan.net/ Tom Mangan

    At first I was like, “a great idea if you have something blatantly visual, but what about the rest of us who aren’t selling hydrodynamic jet packs?”

    Then it occurred to me that just about any process can be sliced and diced into an interesting video … it’s all in the photography, sound track, editing and overall video production process.

    Not as cheap as a blog post, but potentially way more memorable & shareable.

    • http://morekeynote.com/ tpldrew

      Tom,

      It doen’t have to be video even. A hook is really valuable if you think of it as a way to make your content really stand out on a regular basis. For example, check out Deloitte Debates – they have a great hook. (Basically it’s a point/counterpoint for c-level executives on big issues.) Instead of just writing an article about a big issue every week (which everyone does) they have a unique twist on the same big issues and it stands out.

      I have more examples, but maybe that’s an easy one to check out.

      Have a great day. Thanks for reading!

      - Andrew

      • james t

        Thanks Andrew. If you get a chance to provide more examples, I learn a lot more from the comparison between Deloitte Debates and JetLev than from just JetLev.

        • http://morekeynote.com/ tpldrew

          James T,

          Thanks a lot! I’ll look for some more accessible cases to keep you in the loop.
          :)

          - Andrew

  • http://morekeynote.com/ tpldrew

    Thanks for reading the article!

    By the way, (here comes a shameless Content Marketing World plug) I’m hosting a 3-hour workshop at this year’s Content Marketing World that is guaranteed to help you find a hook and create a unique content product. (Sorry again for the plug, but I thought it was actually relevant.) If not… down vote this comment.

    Thanks again for reading the post!

    - Andrew

    • Nenad

      You’re funny. That’s why I will be there. ;)

      • http://morekeynote.com/ tpldrew

        Thanks Nenad. Looking forward to seeing you!

  • http://www.rocketmedia.com/blog Bryce Propheter

    But what about sales for JetLev? Did sales increase? I’m sure they did with that kind of exposure, but how much? This info would have made the article even more valuable.

    • http://morekeynote.com/ tpldrew

      Bryce,

      Good question. That’s an oversight in my article…

      JetLev didn’t provide me with actual sales numbers (even for the book.) But Devin assured me that the serious inquiries had led to serious sales. (Sorry I don’t have the exact numbers.) Maybe they’ll weigh-in.
      :)

      - Andrew

  • shaycw

    I love this idea of creating content with a “hook”. I think we too often just reproduce the same old content over and over. Say the same old thing. If it’s not unique and compelling though, it has no hook and will not get shared.

    I think JetLev owes Devin more than just a plane ticket now!

    • http://morekeynote.com/ tpldrew

      Shaycw I agree.

      I think the best content has a simple twist on something familiar that we can already identify with.

      Best of luck. Let me know if I can help find a hook.

      - Andrew

  • http://www.contentchampion.com/ Loz James

    Hi Andrew

    Great piece. I try to create hooks in my content as it was something I learned to do during my screenwriting MA. The way a screenplay hooks in the audience can definitely be studied and used as a strategy by content marketers to enhance the engagement value of their work.

    I’ve just started using a hook device at the end of my Content Champion podcast to keep people listening to the end – and so far it’s working.

    Thanks again

    Loz :-)

    • http://morekeynote.com/ tpldrew

      Loz,

      Sounds great. I’ll have to listen to your podcast! Can’t wait.

      Thanks for sharing!

      - Andrew

  • http://maratimbo.com/ Mara Timbo Camp

    Conversion? Watching is not buying. Easy as that!

    • http://morekeynote.com/ tpldrew

      Mara,

      It has a low conversion rate but huge return on investment. Even if one person purchased a jet-lev after watching the video (which they did) the ROI is 100X the original investment (at the least.)

      Thanks for chiming in.

      - Andrew