For the past month, I’ve been commuting to town in the dreaded Mumbai locals (second class).

For those outside India, this journey defies all laws of physics.

The rush.

The atomically packed compartments.

The shouting & pushing your way through.

It’s an experience everyone should have once because the pace of the city humbles you.

Anyway, like a true marketer, I use my one hour to shamelessly pry on other passengers’ phone screens, making notes of what content they’re stopping to see.

Here are 3 valuable lessons that have come out from all the invasion of privacy (it’s called research hehe).

No. 3 will save your life!

1. Use Subs or get Scrubbed

It’s no surprise that most guys are watching videos & only a handful are reading news or long-form blogs.

Interestingly, many don’t use earphones & so they have no or little audio input.

This means that if you have anyone speaking or narrating in your videos, PLEASE include embedded subtitles.

Or they’re going to scroll right past your content no matter how good it is.

Use Kapwing to generate the subs for free or use Instagram’s native captioning feature while editing your Reels.

2. Hook it or Die

The decision to stop or keep scrolling.

It is now happening in 2 seconds.

Nobody’s waiting for reveals that come a bit later.

So before publishing anything.

Simply re-watch the first 2 secs. of your video.

Or re-read the first 5 words of your written post on a mobile screen (if using LinkedIn).

Ask yourself, “Where is the hook in this intro? Why would people continue watching this video or read my post?”

If you can’t find an answer, rework it. Have something juicy right at 0 seconds.

  • It can be a how-to headline
  • A weird expression
  • Quirky sound
  • Asking a question (Do you know how to… ?)
  • Shocking update

Anything that opens a loop inside the audience’s brain, forcing them to find out more.

Even the LinkedIn version of this post headline had a hook with a down arrow which made you click “See More.”

Without a HOOK even for short-form content, you will probably fail.

3. Cut fast, cut often

Now the real challenge begins.

RETENTION is hard.

You must keep them watching or reading until the end.

BUT retention drops approx. after 10 secs.

So when making videos, make fast cuts that force people to keep up.

Don’t drag the same angle or frame for more than 5 secs.

When writing posts like this one, use linebreaks.

Short sentences.

No bulky fat paragraphs.

Make the post bingeable.

Assume you’re making a tweet thread.

Every 5 secs. or 5 lines, have a checkpoint.

Ask yourself, “Why would people keep going?”

For example, I baited you above saying point 3 will save your life.

Which incentivized you to keep reading.

So what’s next?

For now, I’m making new friends on the trains.

We don’t know each other’s names.

But we smile, share snacks, and laugh together.

This commute is making me a better marketer. A savvier content creator.

And above all, a humbler human being.

Maybe I’ll share more stories soon. Until then…

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