Marie Ennis-O'Connor will present "Creating Must-Read Headlines and Compelling Content for Social Media" at the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network 2018 Annual Conference. To learn more from Marie and other expert speakers, please join us!
Your headline is the first (perhaps only) impression you make on a prospective reader. And yet many content creators treat their titles as an afterthought. Sometimes when you need a shot of inspiration, it’s useful to have some online tools to turn to. Here are some of my favorites for you to try.
An Art, Not a Science
Whilst there is a ton of data out there, headline writing is not an exact science. The best way to write consistently great headlines is to keep testing and learning yourself. Write multiple versions of your headline before you decide on the best one. David Ogilvy was famous for having written 104 versions of a headline for one advertisement (if you’re curious, here’s the headline “At 60 miles an hour, the only thing you hear in the new Rolls Royce is the ticking of the dashboard clock.”).
Test, Refine, Track
You might like to A/B test each of your headlines on social media to see which resonate best with your audience. Twitter makes this process quick and easy. Simply write two different headlines, and use them as tweets to promote your content. Consider too, that what works well for a blog post might not work as well on social media. I quite often write alternative headlines to share my content across multiple social platforms. Keep a spreadsheet with the number of shares your headline gets, how many reads and comments, etc., and use this as a guide when you are writing your next headline. Over time, you'll develop a better sense of what resonates with your audience.
There is no excuse to settle for a "good enough" headline. Keep a swipe file handy for inspiration, adding to it every time you see a great headline. The more you practice, the more skilled you will become as a headline writer. Which tools do use to hone your craft? Share your best tips with readers in the comments below.
Marie Ennis-O’Connor is a digital communications strategist and an internationally recognized speaker and writer on emerging trends in digital health and participatory medicine. Marie works with clients to create patient engagement strategies, co-design research, and increase clinical trial recruitment. She has recently been appointed to a panel of multi-sectoral experts in Path to Zero, the Economist Intelligence Unit's research, policy, and advocacy initiative that aims to surface innovative strategies to support the elimination of the Hepatitis C virus.
Marie has worked with medical teaching faculties in Ireland, the USA, and Australia on programs to integrate narrative medicine practice in medical education, and sits on the board of trustees for the Patient Empowerment Foundation, a network of people, foundations, organizations and medical institutions dedicated to empowering patients worldwide.