The secret sauce of the world’s biggest news site

The most popular news site in the world is MailOnline. The newspaper behind it, Daily Mail, is the most popular newspaper in the UK.

I have a theory about what their secret sauce is.

In 2008, neuro-psychologist David Rock published a model called SCARF. It describes 5 common ways to hack people’s motivation circuitry. It’s how to hack user engagement.

1. Status

Daily Mail make’s people feel like they have a higher status than others by belittling “outsider” groups (such as the unemployed).

2. Certainty

MailOnline confers certainty by providing black and white answers to complex issues. Recession? It’s due to benefits making people lazy!

3. Autonomy

Daily Mail is laissez-faire. It’s against government “meddling” in people’s lives.

4. Relatedness

Relatedness refers to a sense of security among like-minded people. Daily Mail has strong opinions (see the other points on this list) – this creates a sense of community around people who share those opinions.

5. Fairness

Daily Mail appeals to a (often flawed) sense of fairness. Why should people with jobs pay taxes that go towards the lazy unemployed?

Other models

Daily Mail are also masters of the SUCCES model: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Stories.

What do you think?

Is there a way to use SCARF in a more positive way? Leave a comment below!

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