If you’re an avid social media user, you’ve probably played Wordle, or seen your friends share their Wordle success. It’s simple, sharable, and compelling and its viral success explains why the New York Times bought it for over $1m.
Everyone wants in on the act.
Wordle has spawned numerous spin-offs – Hurdle (guess the song from a snippet), Worldle (guess the country from its map outline), Trekle (for the Trekkies among us) and Quordle (for those of us who like to struggle).
But, like many things, Wordle has its flaws. Non-players have complained about the Wordle tweets crowding their timelines. The way it was designed to be shared has had accessibility issues. Some fans worry it will be monetised by its new owners.
Still, we play it and share it. It’s a great example of viral content principles in practice and brands can learn a few things from its success.
What makes Wordle so compelling?
- It’s simple! Wordle’s simple game premise and design makes it intuitive to use. Wordle’s low barrier for participation has helped it trend – and once it started trending, of course, it picked up more players. The lesson for brands: content should be easy to adopt, simple to use and designed with short attention spans in mind.
- It’s competitive. Horribly and brilliantly so. Wordle players share their successes and failures to compete with each other (did you get today’s in three goes or four?), forming a sort of community in the process. The lesson for brands: competition, shareability and community drive virality.
- It inspires offline conversations. The conversations happen offline as well as online as people talk about today’s game. Tips on the best starting word, strategies for success and fury on days when there are too many word options create chatter, which spreads word-of-mouth. The lesson for brands: think about how people will talk about your content, and why.
- It’s habit forming (but not addictive). The ‘one a day’ format means you play regularly, but in short bursts. It tracks winning streaks – which means players want to keep playing each day – but can’t be accused of manipulating people to spend more time on a screen. The lesson for brands: sometimes, less is more.
Who knows how long Wordle will last. And I’m sure the New York Times will (as they must) address the issues of accessibility. But right now, a simple idea designed by its creator for his partner during lockdown is one of the biggest games on the planet. It’s a great example of how to do content, brilliantly.