Crafting your headline is as stressful as speed dating. (Not that I would know but I would imagine!) How do you make the ideal first impression? Get them to look past the surface? 8 times of 10 readers will NOT read past the headline copy.
As a community manager, sometimes the job entails writing content for the audience and to draw them into conversation. Often we work with headlines or at least, when it’s time to share and it calls for it, we will transform it into an enticing headline or phrase so it’s worthy for a tweet, Slideshare title, Google+ post, Facebook sharing, email subject lines and so on. It is our small window of opportunity to open dialogue with the community, and if it’s sexy enough, it will get shared beyond the community!
You see we can’t afford to mess up.
So how do I make my title sexy, you ask?
Portent Idea Generator
- Step 1: Plug in a keyword.
- Step 2: Enjoy flipping through the bizarre titles & funny bits.
- Step 3: Use one of the titles, or use it as inspiration to compose a similar headline.
It CAN be a little extreme but it does not fail to disappoint! Sometimes it works the opposite way for me: I will plug several keywords I’ve been mulling over for a blog and the titles end up giving me ideas for the actual post!
Be Explicit but Audacious
Be bold. What awesomeness have you written that is going to solve problems of your readers? What kind of article (question, how-to, opinionated, funny) is it? Use fun descriptions (you don’t need more than one adjective though). For example (relevant to our audience)… “Math Haters Can’t Be Hatin’ On These Easy Marketing Metrics” or “Why Instagram is the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread.” Be specific because if you’re slightly vague in what you’re delivering, the reader isn’t going to be confident they will get much from it. Be confident that your work satisfies your reader’s cravings and needs – it will shine through the headline.
Use the Damn Thesaurus
A good friend of mine. The thesaurus extends his friendship to anyone with access to the internet, the library or a bookstore. Just don’t go overboard and throw around weird words. You don’t want readers turning to the dictionary!
Humans adore lists. A number tells the reader exactly what they’re going to get and hints the blog is most likely going to be scannable. Breaking it up with numbers, headers and short paragraphs allows for better digestion and numbers is one of the most effective methods of readability. And there’s just something exciting about seeing how many things the blogger came up with. Sometimes numbers press an emotional trigger when it’s a topic people find overwhelming, yet there are only “four tricks,” “three strategies to kick butt at marketing,” and so on. People want to learn efficiently.
Oh, Don’t Forget This One Thing….
You want your readers to devour the title but the actual content can’t disappoint. If you trick the reader into something mediocre or neglect to follow through the blog title’s promise….they may not come back. It’s far better to write high quality content with a passable title.
Look at websites strutting their stuff with the titles: Buzzfeed, Upworthy, Fast Company, 12Most and some of our Steamfeed posts (fact: if the title isn’t delectable, the editors will have us change it or tweak it themselves). Copyblogger has a wicked good series on this topic & check out 5 data insights into headlines readers click if you want more guidance. And look at what you’re actually clicking through on your social networks, RSS feeds and emails. Bet the title has something to do with it.
Headlines can be your strongest link. But they can be the weakest too. So what tips do you have for writing bewitching titles??