Live or die by the first 5 words of your headlines.

writing headlinesI have written before about the importance of writing strong headlines for your web pages and posts, here and here.

Content headlines have always been important, but with the rise of social media, they are now more important than ever before.

Why? Because when people tweet or retweet your content, or share it through Facebook and Google+, it’s your headline that will either hook them or not.

When people come to your site or blog, you already have their attention or interest. Those readers are yours to lose. And your headline can work in conjunction with images and the rest of the text alone.

But when those headlines are simply one of many within a fast-moving flow of tweets, or on a social bookmarking site like Reddit, they stand alone. Headlines are important, not just on your sales pages, but on all your content pages.

But why am I putting so much emphasis on the first 5 words?

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How do you know if your web content is any good?

measure success of web contentAs content creators we sit down at our computers, check out the content calendar and get started on the day’s work.

Whether we are employed, or work for someone else, we get into the habit of pumping out that content.

Sure, we work hard to create quality content. We optimize it, whether for the search engines or social media. We submit it. It’s published. And our work is done. On to the next page or post.

If you work alone, writing for your own sites, that page is now behind you, and you focus on what to write next.

If you are employed, you write the page, and what happens after that is in someone else’s hands.

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The difference between an authentic voice and a paid-for voice.

authentic voice
Photo courtesy: CBC

Last week, during the fight against SOPA, I was listening to a radio show on CBC, hosted by Mike Finnerty.

He had two guests – Rob Beschizza, Managing Editor of BoingBoing, which went dark to protest SOPA, and Steve Tepp, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel of the Global Intellectual Property Center.

(Yes, this post is about copywriting. Keep reading…)

Finnerty reached them both by phone and gave them more or less equal time to present their points of view.

Both Beschizza and Tepp are smart guys, and both shared very different views on the value of SOPA. Beschizza said it was bad legislation that would result in a lot of unintended consequences for thousands of websites. Tepp said it was excellent legislation that would put a stop to piracy by “foreign criminals”.

Who won the debate?

Read the full post…The difference between an authentic voice and a paid-for voice.

Is there a market for more social media experts?

nick usborne social mediaEvery week I seem to find an article, post or tweet that mocks social media experts.

Granted, most of these pieces are written by social media gurus themselves, who are anxious to separate themselves from this influx of new competitors.

As I say in the video below, there are two sides to this story.

Yes, in one respect these gurus are right. A lot of people claim to be experts, based only on their own, personal familiarity with various social media sites.

But they are also wrong, because there are also plenty of other people who are taking the trouble to dig deeper and learn the skills of true social media marketers.

Read the full post…Is there a market for more social media experts?

The importance of pre-selling on your content pages [PRESENTATION]

pre-selling web contentOne way to define the various types of pages on a website is to place them into two main categories — sales pages and content pages.

The purpose of sales pages is self-evident.

But the purpose of content pages is a little less easy to define.

Some content pages are created specifically to attract organic search engine traffic. Others are created to become popular across social media. And a few are created with the specific purpose of informing and educating the site’s readers.

Vaguer still is the connection between the content pages and the sales page.

Read the full post…The importance of pre-selling on your content pages [PRESENTATION]

Is your web content good enough to be curated?

content curationAs I explain in this video, I think the days are past when you can get away with asking, “Is this content good enough?”

Smart content marketers now need to raise the bar considerably, and ask themselves a much tougher question, “Is this content good enough to be curated?”

Watch the video and then keep reading for some more tips and resources.

Read the full post…Is your web content good enough to be curated?