A Guest Post by The Blog Tyrant
photo credit: andronicusmax
World of Warcraft has over 11 million subscribers paying monthly fees. It is one of the most addictive video games of all time. In fact, there are several websites devoted to just helping people quit the game. There is even a “detox center” in China that addicted kids are sent to. It is that bad. And while I don’t think these addictions are particularly funny, I do think we can learn a lot of valuable lessons from WoW that we can apply to our blogs. In this post I am going to show you how you can make your blog addictive just like World of Warcraft.
Unethical? Did they made it addictive on purpose?
A few months ago there was a TV show where a video game company was being sued over the death of a teenager who died as a result of being addicted to their game. During the case it was exposed that the company had hired psychiatrists to make the game play as addictive as possible and this addiction was the cause of the death. While the show never made any mention of names, a lot of people assumed it was based on WoW because there was a real life law suit on a similar matter. There had also been a lot of reports where medical experts said that the game was more addictive than cocaine. As to whether it was talking about WoW we don’t know and saying so would just be speculation.
As I have already said, I don’t think these addictions are funny. And if a company knows that their product is doing harm to kids and then continue to make it more and more enticing then I think some ethical questions have to be raised. The downside to any capitalist system is that the desire for profit often outweighs the side effects. And this is a shame.
I do not wish to celebrate the fact that some people are addicted to WoW, but I do think we can learn some valuable blogging lessons from their example. The reason I think it is okay to delve into these “tricks” is because I don’t think anyone will ever become addicted to a blog. And if you can grow your blog with these methods and then use it as a platform to help people I think that is a very good thing.
How to make your blog addictive like World of Warcraft
Now that I have ranted about my ethical concerns we can get into the bulk of the post. I am going to go through a bunch of WoW features and then show you why they are so addictive and how you can apply that to your blog. As always, if you have any other ideas or thoughts please leave a comment and let us all know.
1. Appear popular
The first reason that WoW is so addictive actually starts before you even play the game. Before you even buy the CD. Every gamer you know has played Wow, all your friends are talking about it and you constantly hear about it in the media. This sets up the game in a very positive way because it makes you feel like you are missing out. When I heard that 11 million people were subscribed to the game I just had to take a look at what all the fuss was about.
This phenomena is called social proof and it is anything that shows someone that they aren’t the first to try out your service. People do not like to miss out on popular things but they also don’t want to be the first to try it. If you can appear popular you take away their concerns and set yourself up for success.
How you can apply it to your blog
There are quite a few ways you can apply these social proofs to your blog. Remember, you want to make people feel curious about all the other people involved but you also want to address their fears about being the first to try something. In order to do this you can try:
- Showing recent comments
Show your recent comments in your sidebar. This instantly tells people that there are other people interacting on your blog and that you have some level of popularity. Showing your recent comments is a wonderful idea as it also gets people involved in any discussions that you might be having.
- Use Wibiya
Wibya is a new toolbar that I am starting to see on a lot of the big blogs and websites, including Darren’s Digital Photography School. And yes, it is free. All you do is sign up for an account and then add some code to your site and you have this nifty new footer that shows everyone the number of people on your site, how to connect with social media, etc. It is a very useful way to make your blog appear less static and more dynamic.
- Reference readers in posts
When you are writing a post it is a good idea to give shout outs to people who visit your blog. For example, if some guy called Ben left a really good comment about something relevant to your latest post, why not give people a link to the discussion and mention his name in the article? This has the dual effect of showing that you get comments as well as increasing loyalty by being very personal and in touch with your readership.
- Use subtle testimonials
Everyone knows about testimonials on product websites but for some reason people don’t use them on blogs. A subtle and well placed testimonial can do wonders for making your blog more sticky. For example, in your About page you might want to have some dot points about your traffic, subscriber numbers or comment count. This has the effect of showing people that others are using your blog without plastering it all over your sidebar.
Appearing popular is important if you want people to feel like they need to be a part of the action. It is terrible when you arrive on a blog that looks lifeless and dead. On the other hand, when you arrive on a site that is awash with conversation and energy you just have to get into it. Be creative with your social proof.
2. Leverage people’s need to be in a group
Something very similar to point number one, and one of the most addictive things about World of Warcraft, is the fact that it leverages people’s need to feel a part of a group. This is a very primal and subtle psychological phenomena that all humans possess. We find partners, get married and have kids. We play team sports, join clubs and hang out in packs at school time. Humans need to feel part of a group.
When you play WoW you don’t play by yourself, you join groups of players from around the world and form guilds. Sometimes these guilds become very close and chat by email and IM and often log on at the same time each day to play together. This is an extremely powerful tool for making the game addictive, especially if the people have trouble making friends on the outside world. If you want to make your blog more addictive you have to leverage people’s need to be in a group.
How you can apply it to your blog
So how do you apply this to your own blog? How do you make people feel like they are special and a part of a group that wouldn’t function properly without them? Here are a few ideas:
- Send emails
When someone leaves a comment on your blog they usually leave their correct email which allows you to shoot them a message to thank them for commenting and let them know that you appreciate their input on your site. Now, there are plug ins that do this automatically but that is not what I am necessarily talking about. If someone leaves a great comment you might want to send a personal message thanking them for their expertise. Or if someone constantly leaves comments whenever you write you should thank them for the frequency. Make sure you reward the aspect of their behavior that you want them to continue.
Refer comments to other readers
One of the first websites I ever sold was a fitness site that was mostly used by women. Over time I built up some very loyal readers and a lot of them were fitness experts, personal trainers and dietitians. If someone posted a question in the comments about a workout or diet plan I would occasionally send emails to the experts asking them to help them out. These experts then become frequent users of the comment section and always seemed willing to be a part of the action.
- Name your team
Something extremely subtle but extremely addicting is a team name. In the gaming world it is called a clan. Some clans are extremely hard to get in to and involve several “try out” phases. For example, in WoW you need to be at a certain level before even being eligible to join. Once you are in though you have brothers who look out for you in battle, give you hints, etc. It is just like high school! Giving your loyal readers, subscribers and commenters a clan name is an easy way to maximize the team spirit.
Make people feel like they are part of an exclusive group and you will have fans for life. Everyone needs to feel as if they have some sort of ownership in the blog, as if it might not be as good if they stopped visiting. This group mentality is an extremely strong tool for all online marketing.
3. Lure with the promise of rewards and new features
Why do people spend their entire lives playing Wow? Partly because the game is incredible, partly because the pollen outside gives me hay fever and partly because there is the ever enticing possibility of leveling up. Why is reaching the next level so amazing? Because you get to access new powers and weapons and challenge new bosses. You also get the bragging rights associated with being a level 80 as opposed to a pitiful 79.
Blizzard (the makers of WoW) constantly add new things to the game. They tweak the maps to make sure they are perfect, they change the damage of certain spells by minor margins to make the battles more interesting and they periodically release new updates that allow you to access new bosses, maps and, of course, levels. All of this keeps the game fresh and new and stops boredom setting in.
How to apply this to your blog
To make your blog feel super addictive you need to have a reason for people to come back. It has to be something that compels them to check back again and again and they have to feel like they might win or gain something new by doing so. Here are some ideas:
- Have regular competitions
Your blog should have regular (but not too regular) competitions that give away something useful. The prize could be won by leaving a certain amount of comments, subscribing to a feed or mentioning your blog on Twitter. Whatever your competition is it should be interesting. Something that gets people talking. Shoemoney and Overnight Prints did this extremely well once with his business card competition.
- Have a long term but secret release
One of the coolest thing Darren ever did on Problogger was build up a new feature that he was adding to the site. This created a lot of buzz as it wasn’t really something done before. Now the great thing about this was the way he did it; very subtly. First he acquired the domain name www.problogger.com which he previously didn’t own. We knew something was up. Then he dropped a few hints over the months. Finally he launched a new community on the address once everyone was seething with curiosity. Perfectly done. Try and have a long term reason for people to keep checking back on your site.
- Plan your content and reveal it carefully
We all know that you need compelling content to succeed but what a lot of people fail to do is release that content in a way that is interesting and alluring. WoW doesn’t just let you access all the maps and features at once. You’d be bored of it in a day. Rather, they slowly let you at it after you have earned it with interaction and game time (and subscription fees!). Try and think of your content in a similar way. An example we all know of is Darren’s 31 Days to Building a Better Blog.
Your content alone should be enough to get people to come back to your blog. But, if you add an extra incentive, some kind of nifty reward or new level, you are going to generate a lot of interest amongst those regulars out there. Without new levels, weapons and magic spells WoW would be dead and gone by now. So what are you adding to your blog in order to keep it exciting and new?
4. Create an alternative world for your readers
The real fans of WoW don’t see it as a game, they see it as an alternative world. A world in which they can perform magic, make friends, conquer towns and change. When playing World of Warcraft you get an almost identical physiological response to events that take place as if they had actually happened in real life. When you run into battle you get an adrenalin rush that makes your vision fuzzy and when you can’t solve a puzzle you get flooded with stress and frustration.
How to apply this to your blog – The ultimate way to make your blog addictive is to create an alternative world for your readers. A place where they can go and get away from the problems of their daily life and absorb themselves in a community of like-minded people. A place where they learn new things, feel more powerful than they really are and discover their inner potential.
- Make it as interactive as possible – A blog should not just be a place where you read/write about something. That might have been the original intention behind their popularity but now they are so much more. If you want people to become addicted they need to be involved on every level. Let them suggest topics, ask questions in the comments and chat to you on Twitter and Facebook. Ask your readers for help and give them tasks to solve. The more interactive your blog is the more time people will want to spend there.
- Make it beautiful and easy to use – Your blog’s design is so important because it has to sell your content. Read that carefully because I think a lot of people fail to grasp the idea. Your design sells your content. How many times have you left a blog because it was ugly or the font size was too small or the colors hurt your eyes? That could have been Shakespeare himself writing that blog and you wouldn’t have cared. Make sure your design is beautiful and your navigation is as simple as possible. The look and feel of your website should become like a second home to your readers.
- Solve real world problems on your blog – One reason that people find it hard to leave WoW is because it solves some of their real world problems. The classic example is the kid who struggles to make friends in school but in Azeroth he commands an army. Your blog should always try to make people’s lives better. Your content should address issues in their life, even if only indirectly. But what if you run a product blog that only talks about antique cans or something equally as boring? Well make sure that you address concerns, give amazingly detailed responses and help people find the answers they seek. What do your readers want to feel and discover? What makes them happy? These are essential questions to know if you want to create an alternative world for your fans.
What do your readers want to feel and discover? What makes them happy? These are essential questions to know if you want to create an alternative world for your fans. And creating an alternative world is the best way to make your blog sticky.
This post could go on forever because World of Warcraft gets so many things right. In fact, it might have been quicker to just write about what they do wrong! In any event, if you give people rewards, help solve their real life problems and make them feel part of a group you are part of the way there. Perhaps most importantly, however, you should do as Blizzard does and constantly add new features, content and always be testing for ways to improve and grow. Now go outside for a while.
About the Author
The Blog Tyrant has sold several blogs for large sums of money and earns a living by relying soley on the internet. His Blog is all about helping you dominate your blog and your blog’s niche and only includes strategies that he has tried on his own websites. Follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his feed for all the juice.
But what about if the content becomes stale like WoW is currently for me? Yes I’m waiting for Cataclysm to come out…. lol
I might start popping up little Yellow ?’s around my site. Let readers take on quests for phat lewt.
Death to the Horde! ;)
Great post – and an awesome analogy.
Blog success (like all of social media) is all about creating experiences, ecosystems and ubiquitoids.
1. Experiences: Are you creating a commodity of your blog – or are your building experiences? The latter always wins hands down – and goes a long way in building engagement with your audience.
2. Ecosystems: Are you creating an ecosystem that a larger community can tap into? Darren created one with this very site, and almost all successful blogs evolve into an ecosystem.
3. Ubiquitoids: Are you creating a blog that is as ubiquitous as an iPhone – or Kindle for (everything)? Once again, are you creating a blog that your audience makes a part of their lifestyle?
All said and done, we, as bloggers just need to look around for what’s working elsewhere (like WoW) and tap into the success principles that work there – and bring them into our worlds.
Thank you Blog Tyrant for taking the time to put together this incredibly insightful post. Really it was just the thing I needed to read at 1AM whilst ticking over plans to my blog to the next level! Liked this so I think I’m going to email this link, favourite the tweet that got me here (@problogger) and start looking into more of your content~ great stuff!
Adding new features and constantly growing shows that the blog isn’t just adding new posts, but is constantly renovating itself. Just like video games come up with new releases, so should a blog.
Really Awesome Post. You’ve made some great points.
I really like the idea of giving name to the team..!!
And i’m also going to try wibiya toolbar.
Thanks for the awesome tips man. Great work.
Interesting concept. I’d never thought of WoW being a source to help me improve my blog. I have first hand experience observing my sons being totally immersed in this game for years, so I know exactly what you’re talking about. Just never thought to consider their strategy and apply it to my blog.
Albeit I have a real estate blog, not sure it’s possible. Not exactly the most riveting subject on the planet. I do however think that readers of my blog just the same as any other want to discover something when they read.
Thanks for an insightful post. It has given me food for thought.
All very excellent tips. I find myself struggling to strike a right balance between looking popular and then living by what you write in one of your previous posts about self depreciation is better than self promotion. For me a lot of readers come back and tell me how much they missed my blog when they were on vacation and that thet were absolutely thrilled to be back to work because that way they’d at least surf my blog. I was thrilled!
Excellent post and very interesting concept. I would love to read it again.
great post Blog Tyrant!
you definitely want to ensure that you have solid ways of keeping people connected to you. your email list is a solid as they come; however, as most know, everybody would prefer to consume their content via other means. Be it, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, or RSS feed, keep options like these open, so people can stay abreast of your updates. Once you have them join your community, then ensure you continually provide news they could use and other valuable pieces of content that will influence them to come back and tell others about your site.
Implementing all this is a *stupendous* amount of work, and I won’t say how I know that…
@ Mr Tyrant – thanks for writing all this up. Not a gamer myself, might have to check into this WoW thing after all. Your admonition to send commenters emails is something I’ve done a lot of, and it really works. Plus, I really do appreciate it when people leave comments.
Was just watching Amazing Race on PC. Thout it would be last episode this evening before off to bed, but decided to watch another one because thay gave me a sneak peak into next episode.
This immediately reminded me of this post and “Lure with the promise of rewards and new features” thing I read earlier today.
Everyone has to admit – it works extreamly well if done correct!
Thanks for providing a lot to think about here. Leveling up is a concept I have been toying with and the ideas you presented are inspiring me and confirming some instincts I have been following. Valuable advice. :)
Since it’s pretty much impossible to “fake” popularity on the internet, maybe that step should come last. Or at least after you’ve gotten some loyal readers.
Simply emulating “popular people” behavior is a decent start. Behaviors include:
Asking Questions (using second person singular)
Demonstrating Passion (non-violently)
Lavishing Praise (not kissing ass)
And most importantly,
Not Playing Video Games All The Time
Waoh!! this is all i can say. yeah this topic is not totally strange but, looking at the fresh perspective it brings makes it refreshing to read. Thank you.
That’s some cool ideas you posted here. The only gripe I have is the third bullet point about the rewards and new features because basically this works only for already successful blogs. Admitted, you never say it’s about making a blog successful in the first place, only more addictive.
This entry was helpful, there are a lot of take-away’s I can use for hiphopAffair. I’m always looking to increase readership!
YOu made WIbiya sound so great, but what a p.i.t.a. it is. If you don’t have any one of the complete setup items:
It won’t let you proceed. Then you also ahve to download and install their plugin, which ultimately could break your layout or design depending on how customized your site is. At what point does our website become a marketing device for someone else versus ourselves? I think the Wibiya customization takes it too far…getting a whole lot of information FROM you without giving too much in return. Data mining has taken much of the “social” aspect to the Nth degree and at some point you have to decide how much of your own personal data is worth it just to garner a tick or two in the way of additional subscribers.
I’ll take more granular additions than the anonymous drone type additions any day of the week.
Another good tactic is to write a blog about World of Warcraft ;)
I wanted to say thank you because I am a new blogger, and out of all the “how to blog” blogs I read, yours has been the most helpful. Having been through a World of Warcrack addiction phase, I could really appreciate this post. I agree with 2 other comments about keeping your content fresh and that many of the points are much easier to do with an already successful blog. However, it does point you in the right direction. Again, I’m a beginner, but my best understanding of how to have a successful blog is to build up that sense of community around it, and that’s what WoW has.
It’s ironic that my blog is called “Invention Addict”. Yes, I do have a 12 step program too to help people get their inventions to market.
Very interesting that a video game company would hire a shrink. Makes sense and a lot of dollars too.
I like your complete and actionable suggestions. I really like a blog post I can take something from and apply to my blog.
Great post. Thank you and Darren.
-Stephen a.k.a The InventionAddict
Thanks for your feedback everyone.
I’ll stop back at a more reasonable hour and answer any questions that you have.
Hi Blog Tyrant,
Your points are interesting. I tend to not notice things like that. Apparently a lot of homework to be done to achieve that. lol
This is a really great post! I have never played WoW but the psychology behind it really makes a lot of sense. I love how you were able to apply it to blogging. You bring a lot of great ideas to the table!
Thanks for the link to the comment to email plug-in. I have been looking for something like that because I was so disappointed to find out that my replies to comments weren’t being emailed. I can’t wait to try the plug-in!
What do you do when the blog is not about being addictive. For that matter, I want people to spend just a little time there, solve their problems and move on.
Is this the first time Blog Tyrant has written for PB? Great prose, topic continuity is wickedly on-point, and he/she doesn’t drone on despite the ‘Pavlinian’ length of the post. A refreshing guest post indeed.
Hi Blog Tyrant, You must have done a lot of homework to write such a great article. :D
This one really force me to take action.
Thanks for very well written piece…but holey moley batman thats a lot to take in for a new blogger. Although a lot of it seems to make sense….I think.
Is their a widget I can install that tells me when I won’t understand most of what I’m about to read?
Tried the Wibiya thing and didn’t work to well for me.
I think I will archive this post and read in about 12 months.
Wow, this is an extremely detailed and well done post. I learned a lot of stuff from this.
Thanks for linking to Wibiya. I’ll see if I can apply it to my blog.
My blog’s only a few months old, so I didn’t have any comments at first, but now that there are a few here and there, I suppose it’s high time for me to highlight them and place them in my sidebar.
I also have to start actually e-mailing the people who have left comments. It’s one of those things that I know I should do, but haven’t gotten around to.
After reading your post I have Installed Recent comments in my blog which help me to show off my popularity.
Excellent post and very interesting concept…four thing is very important that is…
Is it compelling?
Is it easy to read?
Is it grammatically correct?
Is it optimised for search engines?
It’s a system to help you get your posts ready to publish and well optimized for readers… and Google.Apparently a lot of homework to be done to achieve that. thanks for sharing…
Great post! My blog is quite old and though I’ve been working on it for a long long time, I haven’t really promoted it at all. I’ve just decided to put more time into it and making it more popular. This post gave me a ton of great ideas. Thanks.
I agree with a lot of things you say, except for this:
Without exception this is the most annoying and nauseating piece of bleh I have ever come across.
It’s a nuisance, it slows things down, and if you have a modern blog theme you can replicate pretty much all the ‘useful’ features of this toolbar in the flow of the blog itself.
Other than that, this is a post that has enduring appeal. I learned a lot from your insight. Thank you an awful lot for sharing.
Excellent post. I liked the use of sub categories with valuable information that gets to the point
Thank you for the excellent post. Your ability to extract tips and applications useful for all blogs from a video game blog is amazing. My blog is about living a healthy, greener lifestyle-so very different from World of Warcraft, yet so much of this is applicable and helpful. Thanks!
Some people are very obsessed with wow. To the point where they have no contact with the outside world.
Thanks for a well thought out post, Blog Tyrant. You recommend Wibiya but it appears you don’t actually use it on your own site. I’m curious what your thought process was on that. Thanks.
These are really good ideas. I had never really considered the importance of appearing popular in listing recent comments as a basis for social proof.
By the way I stumbled this post and submitted it to:
Before I receive the updates about this post, I noticed that this post was already posted at dailyblogworld.com
I wonder why… So, I send an email to daily blog world and ask them how their website works…
But anyway, I guess I already finished reading this post since I saw this on daily blog world.
What amazed me is that, most internet marketing gurus (like Jonathan Volk and Zac Johnson) are posting their articles there…
Could anyone here answer what Daily Blog World is?
– Blogging Access.com
Thanks for this article, it’s really useful! I’m going to apply these not only to my blog, but to my text-based roleplaying game website. A text-based roleplaying game actually has more in common to a blog than to Warcraft – so anything I can do to make it like Warcraft, the better!
This is a great twist on the uses of social proof. If a blogger can get their ideas in the minds of the consumer with just 1/2% of the power of WoW, you could have a business that feeds you for the rest of your life.
The Underdog Millionaire
Thank you for these very interesting informations! I’m a new blogger and it’s definitely helpful.
But what about bloggers who are addicted to blogging?
Blog Tyrant…and Darren:
This is such an amazing post, with so much information I am blown away…and ashamed. Ashamed because I have submitted guest posts for Darren’s consideration and they are shameful in comparison! Thanks for setting the bar so high – both of you. And Darren, please forgive me if I’m not there — yet. :0)
This is an excellent analogy that I can actually see working. I do try to keep tweaking my blog. I’ve only been blogging for 6 mo. so I know there’s always so much to do.
I want to thank Jason and Dave for their input on wibya, because I’ve thought about it, but I have to agree with them, it’s difficult and overall too busy for the look I’m after. I’d rather have a quieter feel on my blog, and at the 6 mo. mark I’m not sure I’d want my stats out there in front of God and everybody.
Thanks for the post!
The other thing I like to watch is traffic sources. I’ve gotten a couple of gems for my music blog that way – one was one of the artists I featured herself, and we had an awesome email exchange; the other was the fan forum of an artist I featured, and I went and thanked the original poster for the reference to the site and espoused how brilliant the artist was live.
I loved this post! I actually popped out of ‘scanning’ mode, sat up straight and took notes. I started my blog in January and though I’ve made many improvements along the way, the site is ready for an energy boost and this is it.
Thanks for the info. and creative insight. Your writing is clear, captivating, and a joy to read.
I’m glad your guest post made it here.
Terrific post! Very thorough. I find it interesting that you connected the game World of Warcraft with blogging. I also love the theme.
Creating an addicting blog definitely isn’t easy, but it is possible if you constantly do tasks that will make the blog better. I also like the idea of emailing readers, for it increases their participation.
Thank you for this post! I am trying to implement some of them on my blog today. You gave me some things to study and think about today.
This is an amazing post, I love it! And as someone who used to be an admin on a forum, I think that any online community is only as good as the people on it beforehand. After that, then I’ll worry about features. That social aspect of gaming is exactly why WoW/CoD are so popular.
Even the great single player games can’t touch online multi-players games for this social aspect alone. Most importantly, you want your viewers to have “fun,” and to feel pleasant when they join your community.
You can do this and then sometimes a big news event comes along, or a new social network and your visitors dip, or a post you thought was going to do well – doesn’t.
Making a blog addictive takes time and patience and is not easy.