How to Increase the Chances of your Thought Leadership Going Viral

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Last week, I conducted a poll...


I'm not going to lie. With results like that, I felt slightly uncomfortable leaving it up - it took me the best part of a month to come up with that!

At first glance, the results suggest I should scrap the title and start from scratch. But it's not quite as simple as that.

Here's why...

  • Everyone who clicked 'Love it!' is either a client or a prospect. Maybe they felt sorry for me and wanted to spare ultimate humiliation, or perhaps it really resonated with them. (I don't yet know the answer to this, but a quick message will reveal all). I'm not trying to appeal to everyone. I'm trying to appeal to a) those who find presenting to senior leaders at work a challenge b) senior leaders who are frustrated with the quality of presentations they're having to sit through at work.
  • The book isn't going to end up in Waterstones. In other words, what's written on the book's spine is irrelevant. One of the comments, I had was that 'Make it Count' makes it sound like a book about maths. I can totally see their point. Given the book is only going to be available to buy online, the subtitle will always be attached to it. As long as the keywords in the subtitle are relevant surely that's enough provided some good SEO is done? (Any thoughts on this let me know!)
  • Recommendations are more powerful than book titles. The people who buy my book are most likely to find out about it directly through me or through someone who's already read it. I'm pretty realistic in the number of people who are going to find this book on the internet and buy it cold (~10%, if I'm lucky?!). Our time is precious. Are you more likely to buy a book you've never heard of before or one that someone's recommended? My marketing strategy is simple: to harness the power of recommendation.

You might be thinking at this point, Alex is a stubborn ass! He's got his blinkers on! Feedback is staring him in the face and he's not listening.

Well, as interesting as the poll was, the comments gave me a lot to think about too.

The suggestions - all brilliant, but they were also very broad. Most of them were going down the thought leadership route which has got nothing to do with the book I've actually written.

The lesson became clear... My title isn't clear!

It's not ticking the Ronseal box. So despite the underlying nuance of the poll, I'm well aware it needs more work.

Luckily, we bought a puppy on Friday (her name is Margot, thanks for asking). And we had to drive to from London to Devon to pick her up which gave me plenty of thinking time.

A pretty self-indulgent blog so far, Alex. What the hell has all this got to do with public speaking/thought leadership?!

Because how you package (aka title) your conference keynotes/TEDx talks will determine it's success. Of the 100+ TEDx talks that I've worked on, through running TEDxClapham and my Thought Leadership Accelerator, I've noticed a trend.

The talks with the best online titles win. They are the ones that get the most views online.

You could deliver the greatest talk of all time, but if the YouTube title is off, it will be lost forever and forgotten.

A great example of this...

Alex Merry, Public Speaking, Presentation and Thought Leadership Coach

JC is the Founder of Movember. He very kindly agreed to speak at my very first TEDxClapham event. His talk was brilliant. Fun, charming, memorable. But back then, I didn't understand the importance of a talk title.

Fun as a trojan horse.

WTF does that mean?! Well, if you go watch his talk you'll find out. But unless I'd told you about it, you'd never have found it.

1.3k views in 7 years!!! It's a shame...

Compare that to:

Why sitting down destroys you | Roger Frampton (4.5M views). Is the feminist movement starting to undermine itself? | Jess Butcher (1.3M views). How to learn any language easily | Matthew Youlden (4M views). What they don't tell you about entrepreneurship | Mark Leruste (1.1M views). How to manage your mental health | Leon Taylor (1.9M Views)

These talks are evergreen. Some of the view counts here are increasing faster now than they were when the algorithms were primed to help them! And while luck is involved in going viral, the thing they all had in common was that we put a serious amount of thought into the titles.

So what makes a good title for a YouTube video? One that:

  • Peaks curiosity. Don't give away the idea to your talk!
  • Includes searchable terms. This is how people will find it.
  • Makes you want to click it. The title is simply about getting you to click on it.

There's a tool I've been using to help me optimise my own thought leadership and my clients big stage presentations. It's called Headline Studio by CoSchedule - I highly recommend you check it out!

Alex Merry, Public Speaking, Presentation and Thought Leadership Coach

I've found it to be incredibly useful. And I hope you do too.

When you've put a lot of effort into creating a piece of thought leadership, don't underestimate the power of an effective title.

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