Well, if your content page headlines aren’t gaining significant traction through social media, you’re missing the boat.
Today, all your content headlines have to do double duty:
First, they have to work on the content page itself. The page headline has to compel attention, hook the reader, and drive readers into the body of the content.
Second…your headlines have to be shareable through social media.
They have to be able to stand alone, away from your page, and jump out from the crowd in Twitter streams, on Facebook pages, on Reddit, in RSS feeds and elsewhere. In other words, your headline alone should make people want to share both the headline, and a link to your full page or post.
You want to maximize shareability, because social media exposure can bring you a ton of immediate traffic, extend your reach to a larger audience, and maybe generate some new inbound links as well.
So how to you do this? How do you write a content headline that works on your page or post, but also works well in isolation…on Facebook, Google+ or elsewhere?
Shareability Tip #1: Write your headlines to a maximum length of 80 characters.
Do this with Twitter in mind. If you want people to tweet about your content page, and include your page headline in the tweet, you need to be mindful of the 140 character limit.
So why a maximum of 80 characters? Because the shortened url will take maybe 15 characters. And you’d like the full headline to survive if the tweet is retweeted, more than once. And maybe people will want to add some hashtags as well.
Besides which, short headlines are easier to scan. And whether they are on their computers or their smartphones, a scanable headline is more likely to enter a reader’s mind fast enough to hold their attention.
Shareability Tip #2: Mention multimedia.
Not every content page on your site needs to include multimedia, whether that be photos, video, infographics or slide shows. However, for those pages which you want to be shared, multimedia helps.
Why? Simply because people are more likely to share great photos, videos and so on. For text alone to be widely shared, the page or post has to be of exceptional quality.
What does this have to do with headline writing? Well, if you have multimedia elements within the page, your headline needs to let people know.
For example, you could write a headline in either of the two following ways:
Saeco Espresso Machine Video Review
Review of Saeco Espresso Machine [VIDEO]
Of the two, the second approach is probably the more powerful when it comes to sharing, simply because the capital letters make the word VIDEO stand out more clearly when people are scanning.
Shareability Tip #3: Get NEW into the headline.
Check out your own social media site streams and you’ll probably find that a lot of the most widely shared tweets and updates are about what’s happening now…today, this hour, this minute.
When you are the first to get a story or announcement in front of your audience, you increase the likelihood of getting your page and post widely shared.
In terms of headline writing, this simply means using words like NEW, NOW and TODAY so that scanners can zero in on your message and click through to your page or post.
These are just three of many ways to make your content headlines more shareable.
Above all, it’s important to recognize that the craft of headline writing is changing fast. The proliferation of site pages and blog posts have a lot to do with this. As does the explosion of social media, and the massive adoption of content via smartphones.
The bottom line is that you now have to write better headlines in order to get noticed, compel attention, drive readership, and build loyalty among your readers.
For more on the craft of writing web content headlines, check out my new ebook, Killer Headlines for Web Content.
About the author: Nick Usborne is an online writer, copywriter, author and coach. Read more…