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Are You a Lunatic to Think Your Headlines Should Be Tweet-Worthy?

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A headline has only one job: to grab the reader’s attention and get her to read the first sentence of your post.

If you succeed at that, and follow with quality content, you may hold your reader’s attention all the way to the end of your post.

OK, maybe the headline has a second job: to get readers to tweet, share, or otherwise spread your post.

Something interesting happened this week to show the power of a headline.

Jon Morrow, Associate Editor of Copyblogger (and at his request being lovingly dubbed “His Royal Awesomeness,”)  published a post on his blog called “How to Triumph in a World of Naysaying Party Poops.”It is a powerful post that quickly got about 30+ comments.

But don’t go looking for it under that title.

When I went back the day after it appeared to read the comments, the title had changed to  “Are You a Lunatic to Think You Can Make a Living from Your Blog?”

Poof!

Just like that!

I did a double-take, rubbed my eyes and questioned my memory, but Carol Tice from MakeaLivingWriting was the first to call Jon out and question his motives. Only then was I brave enough to chime in.

  • Hey Jon — I’m fascinated by something. When I read this story yesterday, it had a different headline! What nefarious tricks are you up to here? For the record, I liked the Party Poops headline. Did you just do a different one on email/RSS? Could have sworn that one was here yesterday.

    Did you swap it out because you didn’t like how it was performing? Mwahahaha…I think it’s Dr Evil/His Royal Awesomeness at work behind the curtain here…

  • Good catch Carol. The title was different yesterday. I remember liking it too.

    What gives Jon? Are you testing titles? If so, what’s the verdict?

    Thanks.

  • Yep, I changed it. I really liked the earlier headline too, but it was doing terrible for sharing. Not enough of a clear benefit, I guess.

    So, I tested out a couple of different headlines on Twitter, and then I changed it to the one that got the most retweets. Then I emailed everyone on my list who didn’t hadn’t read the blog post yet.

    The result:

    Traffic has nearly doubled. :-)

 

So there you have it from His Royal Awesomeness.

Here’s what I learned:

1. No matter how clever your headlines, don’t get attached them. Click to tweet

2. Test your headlines. Click to tweet

3. Keep the headlines that generate the most tweets (or other shares you’re going after.) Click to tweet.

Call me crazy, but if your goal is to get engaged readers I call this freakin’ genius.

What do you think?

 

 

Comments

  1. Well, knock me over with a clover!

    Leave it to Jon Morrow to figure this one out. LOL! 😉

    I actually like BOTH titles Jon came up with, Flora, and I would have sprinted to the Tweet button (and all the other sharing buttons).

    Awesome post!

  2. Hi Flora,

    I was totally captivated by the title of this post. I totally get the point, but it seems like so much work. I’ll have to ruminate on this one. I think it’s an excellent point thought that we can change titles when we have one that seems like a dud. I actually liked the second of Jon’s titles better and wouldn’t have been drawn to the first one.

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