The hook is the most important part of any piece of content. That’s because if it doesn’t work, readers won’t even read the rest of the words. Here are some hooks that I’ve seen work over and over again.
1. Personal Results
Sharing personal results does three things. First, it attracts attention in general. If you lose X pounds or make X amount of money, that makes people get interested. Second, that interest is in you, not anybody else. Content about Jeff Bezos or other successful people often goes viral, and it can be a part of your content strategy, but if you never talk about yourself, your results will suffer. Finally, it makes people trust you, which leads to followers, customers, and clients.
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2. Client/Customer/User Results
This is the same as the first one but instead of talking about your results, you talk about your clients, customers, users, etc. If you’re an email marketer, you could talk about a client’s Black Friday sale. If you run a social media marketing SaaS tool, you could talk about how many followers your users have gained.
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3. Relevant Questions
People instinctively want to answer questions, and that’s especially true when the question is relevant to them and their desires. Asking one can be a solid hook.
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4. List Titles
Lists take up lots of space on the timeline, are easy to consume, and give readers a bunch of different ideas to agree with, disagree with, or get value from. They’re a staple of almost everybody’s content strategy. You can use their titles as hooks.
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5. How-To Starters
If you create useful content (as opposed to just entertaining), your followers want to get some sort of outcome. That could be writing better, getting healthier, investing better, etc. How-to guides help them do that, and they have super simple hooks. You can play it straight with a basic title, or you can add a little style with a longer one (I’ll do that below).
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6. Story Starters
People love story posts. You can hook them just by starting to tell the story. There are three ways to do that. First, you can start from the beginning (that’s the conventional method). Second, you can start from the middle or end (this is often more interesting than starting from the beginning). Third, you can summarize the story into one or two sentences. Whichever you choose, you can start from the beginning after that.
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7. If, Then
Starting with an “if” statement calls a certain kind of person out and makes them especially interested in the content. Then, the “then” statement leads them into the rest of the content.
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8. Steal This
People love the idea of “stealing” strategies, content, business models, etc. It makes them feel like they’re taking a shortcut, even if they’re really just getting inspiration from someone/something else.
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People love statistics. I’m not totally sure why, but they just do. When you cite them, readers tend to pay attention. That’s especially true when the statistic is relevant to their interests.
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10. Quickies With Optional Keywords
No, not that kind of quickie. I mean hooks that are just two or three words long and use an alluring keyword. Some examples are “unpopular”, “unconventional”, “weird”, and “underrated”. Though many of these are somewhat overused, they still have a spot in your toolkit. Just make sure you don’t use them too frequently, and when you do, make sure you deliver on the promise of that word (e.g. if you say “unpopular opinion”, make it actually unpopular). You can also skip the alluring keyword and just play it straight. For example, rather than “weird copywriting tip:”, you could just write “copywriting tip:”.
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11. Get X Without Y
This is a classic one in the sales copy world, but it works for content too. Promising to help someone get something (X) they desire is appealing. Promising to help them do that without having to do something (Y) they don’t want to do makes it even more appealing.
How to lose 1 pound per week without giving up your favorite foods:
12. I Did The Hard Work For You
People don’t just want what they want. They also usually want it quickly, easily, and affordably. That’s why this hook is powerful. You tell them that you did the unappealing part, and they get more interested because they want to get the reward without doing the work.
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13. Something 101
“101” is the number after a lot of university classes. It signifies that the class is introductory and foundational. You can use this as a hook when sharing a basic tip about a certain topic. This one has been a bit hit or miss for me, but it has hit enough times that it’s worth mentioning.
14. Sharing News
Sharing news often gets great engagement. That news is usually positive, but it can be negative too. If you want, you can get right into the news without using a hook (e.g. “I got my dream job offer today.”), but hooking works well too.
I have some amazing news to share:
15. Bold Claims
People love bold claims. They attract attention, create interest in the author, and make people want to read the rest of the content to see if you can back your bold claim up.
Artificial intelligence will put 30% of people out of work by 2030.
Most people consume tons of content every day. They see similar posts, one after the other, day after day, for years. That’s why surprising hooks often work well. They provide a pattern interrupt and make people interested.
Writing is a useless skill.
This is another classic sales copy one, but it works well for content too. If your brand is useful, you’re probably helping people solve a painful problem. Calling out that pain generates interest.
Waking up tired every day sucks.
We don’t need an explanation on this one. People like laughing, and if you can make them laugh, that makes for a great hook. I’ve seen these do especially well when they’re self-aware and somewhat of inside jokes with a certain niche.
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(This example kind of sucks because humor is difficult to turn into a one or two-line hook. It often takes longer and/or comes from photos/memes.)
The best copywriters I know are obsessed with the term “USP”. That stands for “unique selling proposition”. Uniqueness attracts attention, followers, and customers. Do your best to find something unique about yourself and your offers, then use that uniqueness in hooks.
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People like finding out secrets. I think the psychology is similar to “stealing” being appealing (we talked about that above). Hint at revealing a secret, and lots of people will pay attention.
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21. Give Me X & I’ll Give You Y
I see these all the time on Twitter and LinkedIn. The key is making the X small and the Y much bigger so people feel like they’re getting an awesome deal.
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As you’ve probably seen from the examples above, you don’t have to choose just one of these. Often, the best hooks combine multiple hooking principles into one. For example, you might hook with a personal result, then lead your readers into the body of the content with a list title lead. The possibilities are endless, so I won’t try to go over all of them. I bet you’ll get good at blending these the more you write.
Remember, even if you’re writing content and have no product or service to sell, you’re still selling, and you’re selling from the very first word you write. The beginning of your writing, also called the “hook”, grabs attention and sells the value of reading the rest of the post. Use these 20 templates to make that happen.