3 Properties of Viral Headlines
You’re keeping your blog filled with content. You’re sharing it across multiple social media channels. When you check your analytics, however, it’s like looking at binary code (that’s all 1’s and 0’s in case you missed it). At this point you’re asking friends and family to like and share as much as possible to drum up interest. Why isn’t anyone reading your stuff? Maybe because your headlines stink.
According to Copyblogger, only 8 out of 10 people who see your headline actually read it, and only 2 of the ten will actually read past the headline. That’s depressing, but it’s also a roadmap for success. The more you know about what works and what doesn’t, the better you can adapt to overcome. If you can get your readership over 20% of the eyeballs your posts are reaching, you have accomplished something. Here are three ways that you can improve your headlines to get them shared.
SHINE Them Up
KISSmetrics took the time to compile opinions and data about what makes a good headline a few years ago, and the results still apply. Good headlines SHINE. That is, they have Specificity, they’re Helpful, they have a sense of Immediacy, they’re Newsworthy, and they’re Entertaining. Every time you write a headline you should make sure that it meets each one of these requirements in some way.
Follow the Formula
Blogger and digital enthusiast Lenka Istvanova determined her own formula for what makes a headline go viral. While it can still meet all of the SHINE requirements, it concentrates more on the type of words you should choose and in what order they should fall. If this is all you use your headlines might become boring soon, but it’s definitely a formula you can pull out when you get stuck.
The formula is Number + Adjective + Keyword + Rationale + Promise. Examples include 10 Bitchin’ Tips for Writing Irresistible Headlines and 7 Things That Will Improve Your Life Today.
Watch Your Words
Keep your headlines to six words or less as often as possible. The same KISSmetrics report also showed that most people scan over headlines as much as they do any other text online. The result is that they generally only register the first three and the last three words in a headline. If you keep most of your headlines under six words, you’re automatically increasing the chances of the headline being read. Which increases the chances of the rest being read, interest being generated, and conversions to sales
being made. It all starts with the headline.
Keep in Mind
Formulas and statistics are great starting points for increasing your social influence, but they aren’t the end-all-be-all. Your specific customer base has their own quirks, and the best results will come from analyzing those who already read your content or purchase your products and services. It’s often a good idea to hire a social media manager who can provide you with social analysis customized to your specific business for the best results.