If you frequent Twitter on a regular basis then it’s likely that you will have seen a Wordle tweet. The yellow, grey and green squares, the Wordle number, and a score out of six appear endlessly throughout the morning as people share their Wordle success of the day. Much like other social media trends, it seemingly appeared from nowhere and rocketed to popularity. We’re going to take a look at what exactly Wordle is, where it came from, and how it became so popular overnight.
What Is Wordle?
Wordle is a word game that can be played only once a day. Each day brings a new five-letter word to guess and it’s up to the user to figure out what it is. The catch is, you only have six tries. If you fail, then that’s it until tomorrow. No second chances! There’s no app, no ads, and you only access through a web browser on your smartphone, computer or tablet.
You start with no clues at all, and the first five letter word you have to decide on that yourself, and from here on out, you’ll get some hints along the way. This is where the squares come in, like the examples below from the Wordle website.
Easy enough? Wrong! I promise you that. You can sit and rattle your brain, look over the letters, assess the hints, but it’s trickier than it seems as you approach your sixth and final guess.
Who Invented Wordle?
Wordle was created by Josh Wardle, a software engineer for Reddit. He created it because his partner loves word games, and it was something they could
play each day together. After a little while, Josh introduced the game to his family Whatsapp group, and after a lot of love there, he put the game out for the rest of the world. In November, 90 people were playing every day. Two months later it’s approximately 300,000 and still climbing quickly thanks to social media.
Despite its meteoric rise to popularity, Josh has said in several interviews that he isn’t interested in making money from it. The website has no adverts, no flashing banners, no overbearing sponsorship, no pop-ups, it’s not mining your data for sale, and the simplicity of it all is perhaps one of the reasons it’s been such a hit.
Why Is Wordle So Popular?
Simplicity is certainly playing a part. Each day, you head to the website and you’re greeted with the same familiar screen. 30 squares, six rows, and only hope that today won’t be the day you break that winning streak.
It’s absolutely nothing more than it needs to be, and that’s the beauty of it. It’s simple enough to make it accessible but tricky enough to get you hooked.
The impact of social media on the rise of Wordle is undeniable. The built-in sharing feature once you get the word correct, or you don’t get it, is what you’re seeing all over social media. There are no links, no tags, just a simple tweet with some squares and a score, like below.
Dear Wordle, please remember we’re still dealing with a pandemic. Try to be gentle😭
Wordle 219 5/6
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) January 24, 2022
Overconsumption Is Tiring
The internet and the general advancement of technology have had an incredible impact on our lives. I was maybe 11 when I first used the internet, smartphones as we know them hadn’t been invented yet, tablets weren’t for consumers, and much like laptops at the time, they certainly weren’t as portable as people pretended they were. Nowadays we carry our smartphones everywhere, we have instant access to all of the information we could ever need, we can play games on the go (not applicable to Wordle as if you’re anything like me, it’s the first thing you do in the morning and that’s if you haven’t stayed up to get your fix at midnight).
When we talk about overconsumption, I’m referring to us having everything we want instantly, and it’s making us tired and it’s stopping us from enjoying things in the same way as we once would have. Here are some examples.
- Music – we pay £9.99 a month for unlimited streaming of 60million+ songs. Rewind 10 years and we were paying per song, buying singles on a CD, and a single album was more expensive than what we pay per month now. Vinyl has had a resurgence in popularity in the past few years because sitting down to actually listen to an album is a moment of calm, it allows you to appreciate the music more.
- Movies/TV – in a similar vein, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, NOWTV, Disney+, each cost less than what we once would have paid for a single DVD, and we get an endless collection of movies and TV to watch. If you’ve ever spent an evening flicking through them and ending up not watching anything at all, you’ll know how overwhelming the sheer volume of options can be. Recent TV hits such as Game Of Thrones, Bodyguard, Drag Race and Euphoria, they’ve all had a massive impact on social media and in personal conversations, because we’re being forced to wait a week for the next episode.
Overconsumption is devaluing content and experiences in our minds because we don’t feel like we’re losing anything when we don’t pay attention. The album you didn’t finish? The TV Series that you never saw the end of? Your brain thinks it doesn’t matter because there’s always something new available at a click.
Waiting For The Next Wordle
The key thing here is “waiting”. We’re forced to wait for the next Wordle. There’s only one per day, and once it’s done that’s it until tomorrow. It’s five minutes of enjoyment and that break makes you look forward to the next one, and when it’s time to play again, you get that little buzz, exactly the same as the next episode of your favourite TV series when you have to wait a week for it. We’re hooked on Wordle because of simple psychology.
What Can Wordle Teach Us About Marketing?
As marketers, our job is to entice people, gently push them towards a goal, a sale, an end action that we report to our clients, or our managers. It’s the psychology behind marketing that drives those results. A good post once a week on Social Media is better than a poor post every day. A well-researched content piece to support your SEO campaign will perform better than a couple of quickfire rubbish ones. A well thought out PPC ad will drive better results than a few generic ones. A digital PR campaign with a good hook will gain more coverage than three already done campaigns. Wordle and marketing are more similar than you might think, it doesn’t always need to be complicated, it doesn’t always need to be binge-consumed, it can teach us the value in patience and actually enjoying something, even if it’s only for a few minutes a day.