User Engagement: 5 Headline Writing Tips FTW!

User Engagement: 5 Headline Writing Tips FTW!

Headlines are the bread and butter to reeling in viewers to your website, vlogs, guest posts, social feeds, emails, and virtually everything else we do to get eyes on our brand. It’s an art form as much as it is a skill, which is why most smart marketers outsource this task to professional copywriters.

However, not every business can or wants to afford the thousands of dollars a professional charges for each and every bit of content they blast out.

Engaging Headlines: Simple in Theory Yet Elusive in Practice

One of the funniest things about writing headlines is that there’s a heck of a lot of simplicity that goes into the magic of it all. The most engaging, viral headlines aren’t terribly hard to dissect — there’s no complicated wording or fancy-pants technology that goes into them. They simply work and many contain common phrases proven over the years to titillate and capture the public’s attention – and drive traffic and engagement.

If you’re in the B2B game, or are interested in other platform results from Twitter and the likes, read the entire The Daily Egg post as there are big differences to be aware of depending on social platform and demographics.

Headline writing

Headline Phrase Ideas: Here are 5 to Try

Without further ado, here are five of many attention-grabbing headline phrases that you can use to maximize engagement in 2020 and beyond:

1. “this is what”

From Calvin Harris, to Bruno Mars, to TaySwif, “this is what” is a popular phrase the consumer public is very interested in! From a marketing/engagement perspective, there are more options for use with this phrase than you can shake a stick at such as:

  • This is what it’s like to be acne free.
  • This is what doctors are telling us about the future of weight loss.
  • This is what we can all do to save the elephants from being slaughtered by big game hunters.

2. “for the first time”

Firsts are always interesting to human beings. We have so many of them throughout life, good and bad. But, we all like to hear about first time voyages, a baby’s first time walking, or how someone found a way to be happy for the first time in their long life. For marketing/engagement, this phrase can be used ad-nausea in your various campaigns:

  • See your wife smile for the first time in years after you give her this.
  • For the first time, politicians agree with us on this one pressing issue.
  • Thousands of Texans come together for the first time in a century in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

3. “things to know”

Yet another interesting and ambiguous phrase that leaves much to our burning human need for information we simply must have. Let me count the ways this phrase can be used to engage:

  • 20 things to know before traveling to Cuba.
  • Accident lawyer reveals things to know before accepting an insurance settlement.
  • Things to know before adopting a rescue kitten.


4. “will make you”

If you’re starting to see a trend toward titillation mixed with simplicity, that’s because the human imagination tends to be captured pretty easily with a few carefully placed words. We all hate to be made to do things, yet can’t resist the challenge this particular three-word phrase places on the headline writer to force us down a particular road. Let’s take a look at how “will make you” in a headline can make your followers tune into your message:

  • Watching this will make you ball your eyes out!
  • Eating this one thing every day will make you lose 20 pounds this month.
  • This one trick will make you irresistible to the opposite sex.

5. “X percent of”

This one was a bit of a surprise sitting in the top 5 category of top Facebook engagement phrases that were used in headlines. It beat out the number 6 phrase (“is the new”) by approximately 28 average shares over 100m posts. Personal opinions aside, numbers and percentages do draw us in.

There’s a number of ways to make use of this phrase and I think it has a particular draw when marketing a product you’re trying to sell, as numbers and percentages tend to sway purchase decisions more than anything else:

  • X percent of people with yellowing teeth claim XYZ works better than a trip to the dentist.
  • X percent of assault victims say XYZ Defense System can save your life.
  • Learn what X percent of women say is the number one thing that makes a man attractive.

The top 5 least engaging Facebook headline phrases might also be of interest to you:

  1. “control of your”
  2. “your own business”
  3. “work for you”
  4. “the introduction of”
  5. “what’s new in”

In this marketer’s opinion, these types of headlines might seem intriguing, but they’re used so often to sell products, particularly information products, that the user automatically assumes they’re being drawn into a pitch. A valueless MMO-style pitch, that’s likely to separate them from their money.

Headline writing

Go Long and Good Luck!

An interesting fact about headlines is that it appears they can be longer than a traditional landing page or offline print ad. According to BuzzSumo, headlines should be 16 to 18 words long, comprised of 80 to 110 characters is optimal at driving engagement.

So, don’t spend all your time trying to make your headlines “too short” or snappy — be as descriptive as you need to be without writing an entire paragraph!

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