One headline can make or break your marketing success. Often it is not the content itself that decides whether your piece of content is going to give you the success you are looking for. Since most people at first only see the headline and at most a picture, most of the time it is the headline that decides if people are
- Going to click on a link in social media
- Going to Click On The Link To Your Content
- Going To Engage With Your Content
So when you are thinking about it, do you wonder why many content marketers, advertisers, and PR professionals spend at least as much time and effort on creating the headline as they spend on creating the content itself?
The 5 Minute Video Tip: Creating Headlines That Really Work!
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Here is the first one: Creating #Headlines That Work #SocialMediaMarketing
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Posted by The Social Ms on Thursday, June 30, 2016
The reason is simple: According to Quicksprout 8 out of 10 people will read your headline copy while only 2 out of ten will actually read your content:
These numbers are absolutely in agreement with a famous quote from the father of advertising David Ogilvy:
“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
So, let’s be honest: How many of us give our headlines the attention they deserve? And just consider the opportunity that we are all missing out on!
To give headlines the credit we need to give them to make our content more successful, here are 8 things you should absolutely consider before you decide on your headline:
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1. A headline can mean the difference between no success and going viral
You may already have realized that some headlines are good to get some shares in social media, while others are good to make people click. The best headline can do both since only if you get a lot of clicks PLUS shares your content has any chance of really spreading.
Source: Upworthy Slides
You should consider testing some headlines for your content to learn from it. A great way to test different titles for shares and clicks for instance for Twitter is using the scheduling tool Buffer:
Share the same link with different titles roughly one hour apart (use a time of day when hopefully a large part of your followers is online)
Monitor the analytics Buffer provides and Analyze the results.
Often the results vary significantly in clicks and engagement. If you find a title that gets clicks AND shares you are on the right track.
2. There are certain types of headlines that almost always run well in Social Media
Often creating a headline that will get better results is not that difficult. There are a couple of proven types of headlines that almost always give good results regarding clicks and shares. These are:
- Lists: ever wondered why so many lists get created and shared in social media? Because they work. Large numbers usually work even better
- How To posts: We are all looking for answers to questions like „How do I do this? How can I achieve this? Promise the answer and people will click.
- Fulfilling dreams: A lot of influencer success, especially on Instagram, is based on dreams. If you can promise to fulfill dreams of your audience, you have a chance of them clicking on your links
- Best or worst: We all want to avoid being among the worst of anything and be laughed at. But we like to know what we have to do to become one of the best. So we click.
3. Numbers in the headline can make all the difference
Numbers have great power to lure us in. Statistics always make a great topic for small talk and easy to grasp „facts“. Either the numbers are so out of line that we want to know how people come to be so far off what we believe, or we simply want to know more.
But the power of numbers goes even further. In a world of vague promises and unproven „facts“, numbers promise your audience some fixum or facts. Numbers do not lie, they promise real answers and proven facts.
The trust people have in numbers also shows in how much headlines with numbers get shared in comparison to other headlines.
4. Power words can turn a boring headline into an eye-catching power headline
It’s not only in headlines, but it is also in sales copy, call to actions and other places where the copy decides if people react to it.
For instance, „Ultimate“ lists or guides are all the rage.
According to Copyblogger the two most important words in blogging are „You“ and „Because“.
Which power words are best for you depends on what you want your audience to do.
There are words for persuasion, words for influence, words to encourage community and words that imply exclusivity or scarcity. There are also words that make us feel safe.
For more information on influential words, check out the „ultimate list of words and phrases“ by Buffer.
5. Surprise and raised curiosity can go a long way with getting attention
If you get the reader of your headline to go „WTF?“ you have already halfway won: You got their attention. Chances are high that they will click to satisfy their curiosity.
Do you need some examples? Here you go:
Do you want to learn how to build a social audience that will share your content with your perfect headlines? Check out our ebook: “The Social Traffic Code!”
6. The optimal headline is short and sweet
We get so much content on all the different channels, most of us do not actually READ headlines, we skim them. That results in some serious trouble with grabbing the meaning of long headlines.
If you want to catch the attention of your audience, make your headline short and sweet. The ideal length varies a little between the different social network and ranges from 40 characters on Facebook to up to 120 characters on LinkedIn according to Coschedule:
According to Buffer the ideal length of a headline for a blogpost is 6 words for the simple reason that we only notice the first three and the last three words. If you want your audience to read the complete headline: Go for 6 words!
7. Writing a large number of headlines and choosing from that can be the key to headline success
Upworthy is a company that lives of its great titles. Therefore they spend a considerable amount of time creating the best possible titles. And that means they create 25 headlines for each and every piece of content.
Why 25? Because with 5 or even 10 headlines you can still create most or all of them by following the same line of thinking. With the task of creating an insanely large number of titles, you will HAVE to get creative and include some different ideas.
You think this is only this crazy company Upworthy doing stupid stuff? David Ogilvy, the father of advertising, once created 37 headlines for just one ad. So maybe you should try that 25 headlines process?
8. If you need help with creating your headline you can try this process
1) Start with a Working Title
2) Stay Accurate
3) Make It Sexy
4) Keep It Short
5) Try To Optimize for Search And Social
6) Brainstorm With Someone Else
And if you now got a headline that you firmly believe will outrun all headlines you ever created before: Check the headline with a headline analyzer like this one.