They Begged Me Not to Write This… Twitter Headlines to Change Your Life

So you crawled out of bed this morning bleary eyed, went to the front porch and picked up your freshly minted newspaper, scanned the front page and went straight to the first headline that caught your attention and started reading.They Begged Me Not to Write This Twitter Headlines to Change Your Life

That scene is starting to seem surreal and historical. Unless it’s the weekend.

Rewind.

The alarm went off on your smart phone, you grabbed your iPad and checked the latest online news. Then you tapped your Twitter app and scanned your Twitter streams.

The first decent headline gets the click and you haven’t left the bed.

Good headlines are the lifeblood of  success on Twitter.

Studies have shown that you can increase your conversion rate on a link by 73% if you use a compelling headline.

So here’s how to create headlines that will captivate readers.

#1. What you want

What do your readers always, always want?

Readers click on headlines that promise a reward. And it has to be a reward they want and identify with, such as a solution to their problem or a sure fire way to success.  The most popular examples are start wit“How to” or “Tips for”.

Example 1: How to save your marriage with social media.

Example 2: Six steps to perfect blog structure.

Example 3: What everyone should know about Google.

#2. Intrigue

Tell a story, but don’t tell it all. This is possibly the hardest headline for readers to resist because it taps into natural reader curiosity.

Example 1:  How is it even possible to do this with social media?                         

Example 2: Marketing has forgotten this technique, but it might  just change the world.

#3. Did you say Obama?

Not surprisingly all the top tweets of 2012 feature high profile people, such as the Obama – four more years – hug and Justin Beiber saying goodbye to terminally ill child.  Tap into existing popularity by linking your content and headline to something high profile.

Example 1: How the Harlem Shuffle changed my blog.

Example 2: Five things Psy taught me about social media.

Example 3: Oprah uses this twitter technique. Should you?

#4. New

That’s what news is. Something new and relevant to your readers. The world spins fast in social media, and jobs and reputations depend on being up to date with the latest social media trends. Your headline should strive to say something new to rise about the social media clamour.

Example 1: How new research is revolutionizing marketing practice.

Example 2: How a new discovery is changing the way we use social media.

Example 3:  5 social media trends you need to know right now.

#5. They said what?

Controversy is newsworthy and often creates the most social media attention.  Tap into controversy in your area of interest, or create controversy by disagreeing with a generally accepted notion in your area of interest.

Example 1: Why men hate pinterest.

Example 2. “F**k it NFL…Fine me and use the money to pay the regular refs.” (Packer T.J. Lang showing how it’s done.)

#6. Fear

Very few things sell better than fear. Case in point, one of the most popular news headlines in the past few years was ranked US cities for bedbug infestation. Could your readers be doing something wrong, embarrassing even, and not even know about it?

Example 1: How to commit twitter suicide in 10 easy steps

Example 2:  Do you make these mistakes and not even know it?

#7. Best and worst

What is biggest, fastest, the only, the first?  Everyone loves a list for inspiration or mortification. Sharing lists ranks highly on twitter.

Example 1. Funniest blogs topics of 2012

Example 2: Top 10 tweets of 2012

Example 3. Biggest social media mistakes 2012

#8. It’s not me, it’s you

According to Dan Zarella in a post on Copyblogger, the most retweeted word or phrase is “you . “I” doesn’t even make it to the top 20. Clearly, your headlines should speak directly to your readers and about your readers, and not about yourself.

Note – the best headlines will be a combination of techniques – such as tapping into something already popular and promising useful information. Add a celebrity and you’ll be the envy of copywriters everywhere.

What about you?

What headlines do you find irresistable?

For more information see:

Guest Author: Margaret Pincus works in digital communications and also teaches writing/journalism at Griffith University. She blogs at bloghappy.com.au

 

Want to learn how to create great content and write good headlines?

My book – “Blogging the Smart Way – How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” – will show you how.

It is now available to download. I show you how to create and build a blog that rocks and grow tribes, fans and followers on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It also includes dozens of tips to create contagious content that begs to be shared and tempts people to link to your website and blog.

I also reveal the tactics I used to grow my Twitter followers to over 140,000.

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Comments

  • http://twitter.com/jenillustre jennifer illustre

    Totally appreciate the mind-declogging article and ideas.

    • margaret pincus

      Thanks Jennifer :)

  • http://blog.writethat.name/ Brad Patterson @ Kwaga

    Stellar, stellar post. Thank you, Margaret (and Jeff).

    At my company we have a huge email marketing campaign that I’ve been a/b/c testing for awhile and just today I was looking for something new to throw in the mix. Taking this straight to heart and will see to what extent it increases opens/CTR.

    Cheers, Brad

    • margaret pincus

      Good luck with that. Hope you get a good response!

  • http://www.stirringtroubleinternationally.com/ Stirring Trouble International

    Well done Jeff this is a good blog thanks for sharing.

  • KenSchmitt

    Fantastic post! I have found that the funnier (yet not stupidly silly) the title of my blog post/tweet, the more action I receive in terms of engagement and visits to my blog. For me, the title is what drives 95% of my posts. In fact, if I don’t have a title that hooks, I don’t post. I may write the post, but I won’t post it until the title is there. Although my blog is a personal rather than professional one, I have found that all of your suggestions are useful and have generated more action on the site. Thank you!

    • margaret pincus

      Thanks for the comment Ken. It is always sad when a great post is neglected because of a poor headline. A great post deserves a great headline!

  • lablover22

    Fantastic post! I have found that the funnier (yet not stupidly silly) the title of my blog post/tweet, the more action I receive in terms of engagement and visits to my blog. For me, the title is what drives 95% of my posts. In fact, if I don’t have a title that hooks, I don’t post. I may write the post, but I won’t post it until the title is there. Although my blog is a personal rather than professional one, I have found that all of your suggestions are useful and have generated more action on the site. Thank you!

    Vicky
    http://www.thepursuitofnormal.blogspot.com

  • Rhys Wesley

    What a bunch of celebrity-obsessed, fearful, narcissistic individuals we are deep down :)