Inciteful Headline, Insightful Copy

When you want to get noticed, you whisper.  There was a time this was true.  When E.F. Hutton talked, people listened.  But they had an attentive audience.  If you are not already massively popular, this strategy just isn’t going to smash through the mindshare clutter of the Internet.  What can you do?

You can try click bait.  Write inciteful social media headlines so enticing and alluring that no one can resist the urge to click through.  Catch the attention of the surly, sleep-deprived and impatient.  Lead them to the rich trove of content they desire. Just follow this super easy, simple 20 step process for writing effective headlines (with pictures).

Well, it’s not that easy.  Professional or amateur, marketers must engage busy people inured to spam and weasel worded pitches.  Readers seek knowledge, and new information that satisfies their curiousity.  They use every spare second of each day to catch the stream of content that flows through the world wide web.  Finding truth in this stream can become an obsession.

The seekers want insightful copy.  They seek novelty and idiosyncrasy.  Starved for quality, they demand individual voices speaking with clarity and authority.  Instead, much of what they read is written by bots, or people writing like them.  Feeding from this trough of gibberish shoehorned into popular, proven memes is like binging on potato chips.  The reader can’t stop because they haven’t been satisfied.  Is it any wonder that people walk into meetings and family dinners where the humans are face down in their phones.

As with addictive games and mainstream magazines, an occasional stroke of genius flashes across the wire.  This content is devoured like jumbo shrimp wrapped with thin slices of kobe beef.  The author and source are now worth following, or bookmarking, or adding to a reader list.  How was this amazing piece discovered?

David Ogilvy said, “five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy.”  That was when print advertising ruled the earth.  The headline brought people in to read the long copy that closed the deal.  In our Twitter world, the tweet may not replace the headline but it does draw one to the page that holds it.  The headline still matters, but now we can attract more potential readers through serendipitous interactions.

With chance meetings in mind, double down on the provocative tweets.  Flog the idea from every angle.  Great incitement salves the pain of the downtrodden, and enrages the trolls.  It tweaks hidden desires, the ones normally kept tightly locked up.  It attracts attention, and keeps it by piquing curiousity.  People know their desires.  They know much less the strategy to achieve it.  Convince them that only one click separates them from the one extraordinary insight that will change their life forever.

But don’t waste their time.  The consumer seeks the truth, and has scarce time for the quest.  If your brand disappoints enough times there will be others to replace you.  if the content is inadequate or irrelevant it is better to say nothing than to say anything at all.

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