For the past year or so, you may have noticed recommendations popping up on your Facebook news feed for news stories that you just can’t help but click through to thanks to their confident, emphatic and slightly saccharine overtones.
Many of these will have been sourced from sites such as Upworthy or Buzzfeed. These two sites have played a huge role in changing how online writers present their stories and attempt to get their click rates up. Some of this is due to psychology but there is also a more mundane reason.
Firstly, the psychological element is quite straightforward to see. The format of these headlines is clearly designed to draw the reader in by making an emphatic statement about a story and ramping up the emotional response as far as possible. This is achievable for the likes of Buzzfeed and Upworthy because they source human interest stories from around the world and therefore the headlines are often backed up by pretty extraordinary stories.
One thing that can be said for a lot of creative marketing agencies is that they aren’t terribly creative and will leap onto a new trend without a second’s thought. This has led to a wave of PR stories hitting the email accounts of people around the world trying to seduce them into reading their pitch with similar style headlines. If the story is about a new type of dustbin, the bombastic headline is only going to lead to disappointment when all is revealed.
The slightly more technical aspect of what has changed relates to Facebook and its news feed algorithm. Last year it made a very subtle change to its ranking of news stories, so that if a news story is getting a load of clicks, it will re-post it on people’s news feeds if they don’t scroll far enough down to see it. That has created a snowball effect for human interest stories with Upworthy-style headlines.
So, what does that mean for other people writing blogs, press releases etc on the web and wanting people to click on them in their droves? The important thing to remember is that the headline has to be backed up by the story. You might be able to con someone once, but after that you have lost them forever, so it’s just not worth it. But by all means, utilise the new structure of these headlines as it works really well. Short headlines can work, but they can also be restrictive, and when the internet gives you as much space as you need, you may as well use it.
The two-sentence headline also works well because it gives you the chance to create a set-up and a close. Create the interest and then tell the reader why/how it will affect them. It can take a few attempts to get the tone right and get the perfect words in there, but once you have the formula, the results can be impressive.
Over the past three years Rosco Digital Media has built a team of professionals with a wide range of skills that can help to make your build your company’s online profile and make it a real success; from website and logo design, to content writing and social media profile design. Contact us today to find out more about how Rosco can transform your small business.