I sucked you in on the headline, am I right? That was my wicked plan. [Evil laughing] Mew ha ha ha ha!
I will apologize now. Zombies will not help content marketers. We will all be part of the living dead by then.
Content marketers are growing more sophisticated in their headline craftiness and are much more proficient these days in sucking people into their content. There are a couple of lessons to be learned from these magical headline writing warlocks:
1) Crafting a compelling headline for today’s instant gratification social media content consumers is crucial.
2) Supporting a well-crafted headline with great (and I mean GREAT) content, is equally important.
Death By 200 Words or Less
There it is. That magical headline that seems targeted for you at just the right moment in time. You have 3 days to come up with a great new digital tactic or you’re toast. You update your Twitter feed and there it is, the perfecto solution. You click the headline and … oh no, so disappointing. It’s a three paragraph useless pontification of content garbage. You just got sucked in by headline craftiness. But all you got in return was half of a stale Oreo cookie (no cream) and no milk. This is often called “click-bait” and it can destroy your brand’s credibility.
Now, if you’re the type who creates awesome headlines but garbage content, please, please stop killing us all slowly. Content marketers, back up your headline with great content.
Lest my post becomes garbage filled content, let’s get down to business.
Headline writing is a creative process, but a process nonetheless. Here are a few ideas to write awesome headlines.
- Use a formula to guide you. There are many formulas for writing headlines. @Buffer created a great post on headline formula – “30+ Ultimate Headline Formulas for Tweets, Posts, Articles, and Emails”.
- Start with the headline, then write your content. Everyone should read “How to Write a Magnetic Headline” eBook by @copyblogger. It has great ideas, such as writing the headline first to ensure your content stays on track and delivers on your promise to readers.
- Don’t forget about Google. Chris Lake (@lakey) of @eConsultancy suggests optimizing for the 65 character rule. This has two positive effects – you optimize for Google and it leaves room for re-tweeting on Twitter.
A simple Google search will reveal hundreds more ideas for great headline writing. If you are still stuck, use a robot to help write your title.
Avoid being a click-baiter by making your content worthwhile and interesting. Recently, I enjoyed an engaging, lively discussion on Twitter regarding optimal content length. @buffer wrote a blog post describing some best practices for content length. One conclusion – optimizing content length and quality depends on your audience and your goals.
Atomic Reach is one of my team’s newest, favorite tools. Their service scores your content based on audience and best practices. While not a substitute for great writing, it’s a marvelous tool to to enhance your publishing processes. Targeting higher scores will always help improve the quality of your content.
You can try Atomic Reach for free, or use their paid service for more advanced insights (I do NOT work for Atomic Reach nor do I get any benefit for promoting them. I just think they have a cool product.) I scored this blog post and received some great insights for improving the content.
DO This Not That
Remember some of these basic “DO’s” to retain credibility and interest:
- DO write compelling headlines.
- DO support your headlines with great content. This avoids being associated with click-baiting.
- DO use tools to help improve content quality, such as Atomic Reach and Portent’s cool headline generator.
- DO define content objectives and target audience in order to optimize content length.
- DO have some fun with your content.
Special thanks to @IanGertler, @kevanlee, @DionneLew, @adamsinger, @buffer, @brewbom for a great Twitter discussion on content length. Thanks to @buffer, @copyblogger, @eConsultancy, @atomic_reach for supporting content. Thanks to @deanElizabeth for turning me on to Atomic Reach!