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Headline writing: 10 ways to get more eyes on your content

by Anna Hughes

Jan 13

6 min to read

Headline writing: 10 ways to get more eyes on your content

Headlines are much more than the introduction that will grab attention as we used to think. With the advent of social media and our primary objective being to get ‘shared’, the stats say headlines are now all that matters. 

Your headline is read five times more than your content and 70% of Facebook shares are based on your headline alone. The numbers say 6 in 10 people will share a link based only on the headline, without reading it and 56% of links shared on social media have never been clicked. People reshare without reading the content, the share is only based on what they think is a great headline. 

In a fascinating study by The Science Post, an article with the headline ‘Study: 70% of Facebook users only read the headline of science stories before commenting’ and the body only ‘Lorem ipsum’ filler copy, was published. So far, the post has had 194.4k shares, quite remarkable numbers considering how many Latin speakers there are in the USA today!

Writing great headlines can be a challenge, and with so much at stake, we thought we would compile a list of tips on how to write that winning headline and get those shares:

Don’t mess it up: 10 tips for writing winning headlines

1. Use Negations

The most interesting tip to writing great headlines is to use negations. Generally avoided in creative writing circles, negations are now an important part of getting your content shared.  Negative words tap into our insecurities and experimenting with ‘no’, ‘don’t’, ‘stop’ and so on, can ensure your content gets traction.  The trick to using negative words in your headline is to use them so there is no connection to the reader, but that they spark interest. 
For example: ‘Don’t Sneak’: A StoryCorps Animation Tells the Story of One Father’s Advice to His Gay Son in the 1950s. – 21K shares.

2. Play with headline length

The benefits of short headlines are numerous, firstly the reason why our attention spans are narrowing, according to a study, is because so much information is thrown at us daily in the new digital age. It’s not an old marketing theory to try to ‘break through the noise’ and with google search results, anything above 60 characters is not visible, so keeping it short should be the obvious answer.  But say you have more to say and it’s great? It’s a fact that many longer headlines get content shared and people engaged. 

For example: Tom Colicchio Spent 19 Years Building a Restaurant Empire. Coronavirus Gutted It in a Month. — 15 words (10.5K shares— by Aaron Gell)

3. Get Personal

By using ‘you’ & ‘yours’ you are making that human connection.  The reader feels seen and is more likely to have favorable feelings towards your post. 

By using ‘we’ or ‘I’ you are making the post more real, as if it is written by a person, instead of a company or brand, so people are more likely to trust the content. 
For example: How I Made $11,000 From Writing in 30 Days (57K shares — by Tim Denning)

4. Don’t be afraid to ask – why not?

Questions are thought provoking, have an element of surprise and are fun to use as headlines. Questions challenge people and stimulate them, and therefore they engage. A word of warning, they are very easy headlines to write, use sparingly so you don’t overuse them.

For example: Are You Good Enough? (3k shares) 

This Reddit post from r/memes asks a question as the headline and the content is very controversial. This is a great use of a question and the post was 95% upvoted, with 1.5k comments in 9 hours: 

It’s been tested and using a Social Media management tool to publish posts does not negatively affect your post reach in any way.  There were some rumors that it did, well this is just not true at all. Using a social media management tool like Vista Social will enhance your publishing efforts.

5. It’s all in the numbers

The use of stats and figures in headlines are great as numbers are easy for the brain to process.  Impressive stats spark immediate interest and give credibility to your content. Stats are also great to emphasize important points. In the below example it becomes more obvious:

Option A: Many sea turtles are at risk of going extinct.

Option B: Six of the seven sea turtle species are threatened with extinction due to human impacts.

Which option do you find more appealing and would you be more likely to click on or share?  I would say option B, most certainly. The numbers give a sense of urgency to the topic and credibility to the cause.  People love sharing a great cause that’s in urgent need.

6. Power words get attention

The use of power words in content can see a 12.7% increase in conversion rate alone. Power words are words that writers’ use to trigger a psychological or emotional response from their audience.  They evoke strong feelings for the reader and get the message across. High impact and attention grabbing, the use of power words in your headlines will make all the difference. 

They can be divided up into type depending on what emotion they are playing on, like greed words (bargain, bonus), curiosity words (private, hidden), sloth words (all-inclusive, on demand), lust words (compelling, passionate), vanity words (sensational, stunning), trust words (accredited, no risk), anger words (provoke, victim) and fear words (armageddon, assault).

For Example: You’re Not Lazy, Bored, or Unmotivated (88K — by Niklas Göke)

7. Speak the language of your audience

Using an industry specific jargon ensures credibility and your audience will know you are an authority on their subject. This is also great for optimization purposes, like social and google search.  It is important to know when to use jargon and when not.  If you are implementing a highly targeted campaign, go with the jargon. If not, it excludes your audience who are not yet such masters.  There are pros and cons, but the general consensus is that it depends on your audience and who you are targeting.  Weigh up the credibility you could gain from your target market, or alienating others.  

What’s great about publishing posts with a Social Media management tool, like Vista Social, is that when you post using the publishing tool the name of the person posting does not appear on the post, which means if you are using remote or contract workers your brand is not tied to a temporary employee. Additionally, opinion leadership is an important aspect and you have to carefully strategize about what names you want tied to your brand in your audience’s eyes.

8. Sensational Descriptions

Using loads of adjectives or ‘describing words’ goes a long way in drawing in your audience. Make sure they are interesting and they will breathe life into your headline.

For Example: 10 Daily Habits That Are Drastically Improving My Life (4.4K — by Omar Itani)

9. Use analytics

As with anything to do with your marketing strategy, you should be guided by your analytics. If a certain type of headline has done well in the past, it may just resonate with your audience and sticking to that type of headline will service you well.

Make sure you have great analytics tools, Vista Social comes with a powerful set of analytics tools that you can use individually or cross-platform. View results per platform or your full set of analytics across all your social media accounts.  View how your headline did on a certain platform, perhaps a certain headline suits one platform and not another. 

Cross-channel analytics/reporting on Vista Social
Cross-channel analytics/reporting on Vista Social



10. Make sure your headline relates to your content and try out a few before you choose your final headline

While breaking it all down, still make sure your headline describes what your content is about accurately. You don’t want to let your audience down if they were expecting one thing and get another. 

Write out four or five different headlines first, then perhaps bounce them off someone in the office or at home before you decide on which one to use. Your headline is very important so it is worth the extra effort. 

On a final note

Content creation can be a tricky job, especially when you have a few clients and have to manage multiple social media accounts for them on a daily basis.  Vista Social features robust and flexible publishing tools that can simplify all of this for you.  Included in this are automation features like bulk and smart publishing.  

Bulk publishing: Importing on Vista Social
Try out Agency Vista, there are loads of great marketing agencies on the platform that specialize in all fields of m






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