Monday, April 21, 2014

Headline Techniques

By Laurie Epps

You've only got 140 characters, so how do you grab your readers attention? That's not a lot of time. Edie Melson teaches us that by knowing some basic headlining techniques, we'll grab the attention of our readers in our Tweet blasts.

We're continuing with our book, Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers. Everybody's busy nowadays, and so most consider their time to be valuable. As writers, it's our job to pull them away from their every day tasks, and spend a few minutes thinking about our products, services, or simply read our blog. Just like novelists have one page to grip the reader, a blogger has only one Tweet. 

The dictionary defines a copywriter as someone who writes copy for advertising. Copywriting has seeped into many forms of business writing. These same concepts have applications too when composing a powerful Tweet.

The primary goal of copywriters is to just get the first line read. This is the beginning of its numerous commonalities with social media. The hope is that if they read the first line, they'll just keep on reading.

With a compelling headline, a browser becomes a reader. The rest of your work may not be as well written, but at least they're reading it! This should be your goal whether on Facebook or Twitter, just get a new person introduced with and reading your work.

What makes compelling headlines?

  • It must provide the reader with tools to evaluate content.
  • It needs to resonate a sense of urgency with your readers.
  • Show the reader why this offer/product/service/person is unique.
  • Most importantly, don't be your own spoiler! (Don't give away the ending.)

Types of Headlines:

  1. Direct Headlines-- go straight to the heart of the matter. Example: Free SEO eBook.
  2. Indirect Headlines-- take a more subtle approach. It uses the curiosity of the readers mind. Example:I once saw a tagline, 7 Reasons NOT to blog.
  3. News Headline-- pretty self explanatory as long as it's newsworthy. Example: Introducing the New Google Plus.
  4. How to Headline-- this technique works on and off the web. Example: Headline Techniques.
  5. Question Techniques-- must do more than ask a question, but instead, it should ask a question that resonates with readers. Example: Do you want to get published NOW?
  6. Command Headlines-- emphatically tell the reader what to do. The first word should always be a strong verb. Example: Subscribe to the Write Conversation today!
  7. Reason Why Headlines-- work best if you've incorporated a numbered list in your text, so you include it in your headline. Example: 8 Ways to Build a Platform.
  8. Testimonial Headlines-- are very effective because it offers proof that offer your blog up as a great value. This works best if you take what someone else has said about you, your product, or service and you incorporate it into your headline.
***REMEMBER to shake it up a little. Don't always use the same kind of headline or your blog will seem flat and boring.

Connect Activity: Take an old blog post and come up with several headlines for it. Get used to composing several social media updates when you write a post. This will save you time when you advertise your blog or social media profiles.

Next week: We'll start talking about social media sites you shouldn't overlook starting with You Tube.

Can't get enough social media? Check out Edie's Social Media Monday column at:

Laurie Epps is a senior at Anderson University majoring in Creative Writing. Already Laurie is most published as a feature article writer, essayist, and poet. A seeker of beauty and world traveler, Laurie hopes to grow into a career in travel writing illuminating the many stories that make us human despite our differences. Currently, Laurie also has a Thoughtful Thursday column dedicated to the fine art of poetry.

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