Relatability is shorthand for content that readers can identify with. That could be due to shared taste, ideology, outlook, mood, aspiration or myriad other emotions.
The concept of relatability is crucial for social media sharing. Psychologists describe sharing activity on social media as ‘performative’ – in other words that users are taking content to share or adapt to project some aspect of their identity.
It’s a form of ventriloquy. As such, content that is designed for sharing has to take into account the likely tastes of users – topics, angles, language, style.
Buzzfeed is possibly the best known purveyor of relatable content. This was the site’s most popular story of 2021:
Those who have known poverty will be intrigued to see if they have shared the experiences and if they have are likely to share the piece. Those who haven’t known poverty will simply be intrigued.
Smart publishers of all types have a ‘relatability filter’ in their commissioning process. It’s as simple as making sure that you have a good answer to the question: ‘How could this idea be made relatable?’