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How to Create Perfect Headlines for Social Media Posts

Pam Dyer | Mar 7, 2015 3,818 views 3 Comments

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Your headline is the first — and maybe last — impression you make on your audience.

How to Create Perfect Headlines for Social Media PostsAlthough headlines sometimes take a back seat when it comes to writing social media posts, they really should be top-of-mind in your content creation process. A badly-written headline — or H1 tag — can drive readers away in droves and render all of your hard work useless. That’s why it’s important spend some time crafting one that will engage your users enough so that they’ll be more apt to read your article.

David OgilvyDavid Ogilvy, the original “Mad Man” and founder of Ogilvy & Mather, famously said:

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

If your headline doesn’t sell your story, it’s likely that your social media posts will go unread. A good headline increases your odds of getting eyeballs on what you’ve written, which is why writing headlines is a crucial skill.

H1 headings are important for SEO

Your headline encapsulates the topic of your article. It’s where most people look when they’re trying to figure out what your post is about. Search engines are all about surfacing content that people are looking for, and they use the H1 tag in order determine whether your post should be part of the search results they offer for your topic. If you’re trying to optimize for a specific keyword or phrase, it should be included in your headline (preferably at the beginning). Search engines give the most weight to headlines, so your ranking improves when they are honed correctly.

So what makes a good headline?

1. Make them short and sweet

  • The optimal length of a headline is 6 words — we live in a world where people have short attention spans, so less is more.
  • Google will display up to 66 characters of a title tag, cropping to complete words

2. Include “you” and “your”

  • This makes your headline more effective since it speaks to your readers’ concerns and seems more like a real conversation

4. Experiment with negative wording

  • Negatives tap into our insecurities
  • Words such as “no”, “without”, and “stop” can create more sharing

4. Use interesting adjectives

  • Words like “fun”, “effortless”, “unique”, “incredible”, “essential”, “strange”, “painstaking”, and “absolute” engage readers than more mundane language

5. Use numbers

  • People want to improve their efficiency, and seeing numbered lists that include easy steps meets this need
  • Make sure to use digits instead of words to increase sharing — i.e. “5″ instead of “five”

Still stuck? Here’s a list of 74 headlines that work.

Check out this list of clever headlines from the team at Twelveskip. Choose a formula and fill in the blanks with the keywords and phrases for your topic. Voila!

74 blog post titles that work

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3 Responses to How to Create Perfect Headlines for Social Media Posts

  1. Casey March 8, 2015 at 10:58 am (1 comment) #

    Title and H1 are certainly very important when writing posts. But those 20 cents meant for the actual content are the ones who really bring value.

  2. Rick Noel March 20, 2015 at 8:20 am (1 comment) #

    Great points all the way around Pam. Many (like this post) will include the title in the URL which is also an important signal to Google. With WordPress, this is an easy permalinks setting that all should capitalize on, which makes your headline advice even more relevant/impactful..

    The other aspect of post share-ability in our experience is pictures. For many busy community managers, a quality featured image can be the difference between sharing or not. Usually having an featured image in each post is best practice and can dramatically enhance a post’s social engagement and reach. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wayne Caswell March 31, 2015 at 6:01 am (1 comment) #

    How much of this advice on titling applies to pages in a content management site? I enjoyed the article, will print the list for regular reference, and will browse Pamorama.

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