You want more user engagement. But then, so does everyone else.
What makes a piece of online content shareable? What urges people to comment on and engage with a brand? Is it the images? The tone? What kind of influence do words really have?
One of the most talked-about topics on the subject of creating online content is headlines. There’s an ever-growing body of literature on how to craft the most brilliant, share-worthy headlines, the ones that will prompt your readers to engage with you.
A headline might seem like something you don’t need to waste too much time on, but the truth is that the headline is generally the only thing a reader will read. It’s the headline that makes them decide whether your 1,200-word post is worth their time.
However, even TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) pieces do get shared and commented on, and this is entirely because of an effective headline.
When it comes to crafting your content, word choice for your headlines is the alpha and the omega. Here are a few tips to increase engagement with a few tweaks on how you craft your headlines.
Social Media Matters
There’s no single rule as to what kind of words work well in headlines. According to QuickSprout, words like contest and coupon don’t increase engagement on Facebook.
On the contrary, if you use words like submit, deal, and discount on Facebook you’re more likely to get a lot of shares, likes, and comments.
The important thing to take away here is to tailor your content for each platform and medium. Never use the same copywriting formula across different social media, because it will cost you time and lost earnings.
Not all social media sites are created equal; the demographics and types of consumers who use each can vary widely, and it’s your responsibility to know what resonates with whom, and where.
QuickSprout reports that for Facebook you’re more likely to boost user engagement with words such as these:
Blacklisted words: contest, promotion, sweepstakes, coupon
Twitter is a completely different realm with different user engagement trigger words. QuickSprout says these are the words to focus on in Twitter:
LinkedIn is a professional social network that calls for a more formal discourse. Words that are more likely to boost engagement in this realm are:
Researched and Accomplished
Specific Words To Use In Your Headlines
There’s a lot to learn about the best words to use in your social media content. Be sure to also be aware of meaningless buzzwords you should avoid at all costs.
Knowing what works well with which social network is not enough. You also need words that work well across the board.
The words, you, what, how, and when are among the most popular words in headlines for articles whose content goes viral.
Things Get Personal
Among the most popular words that you will find in a viral headline are the words you (588 instances) and your (202).
This indicates that when headlines directly address the reader they have a better chance of getting shared, retweeted, commented on, and liked by people.
When it comes to headlines, what makes them irresistible? When they’re in the form of a question. Question headlines address the reader directly and this directness makes it hard for a reader to skip over or ignore it.
Take HappyPlace’s popular series of posts that follow the same structure each time:
5 Things You Should At Least Pretend To Know Today
This is a headline that targets people’s need for being “in the know.” To intensify this insecurity, the headline editor makes sure they reference the reader in the headline so that there’s no question who the headline is talking to. Can you resist clicking to read?
Use the words you, your, this, when, what, and how in your headlines whenever possible.
These words take an abstract concept and make it more specific. Using this makes a headline more immediate, specific, and personal. The words when and how can be used to create questions, and
question headlines attract engagement.
Lastly, don’t forget to tailor your headlines for each social network for maximum results.
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