Join Daniel Roth for an in-depth discussion in this video Paying attention to the headline, part of Writing to be Heard on LinkedIn.
- If there's only one thing that you're going to remember from this course it is that you have to Pay Close Attention to Your Headline. Headline is what brings people into your post. What is it that you're going to say that makes them think this is worth spending the next 10 minutes of my time with? When it comes to headline there are a number of tools that you can use to make sure that you're writing a great one. Number one is, clear beats clever. Don't use puns, don't try to come up with something that you think is very clever wordplay. People don't have the time to try to puzzle through it, they're not going to spend the time to puzzle through it.
You need to make them understand what the utility is of clicking on whatever it is that you're writing. Number two is, be conversational. This isn't homework that you're doing. You're not presenting a position paper. You're not delivering the State of the Union address. You're giving some insight into how you think and where the world is going. You want it to be something that people feel like it's going to be fun for them to engage with. And you want it to be something that's sharable. People are going to share your content. They're going to share it on LinkedIn, they're going to share it on Twitter, they're going to put it up on Facebook.
If you have a conversational title it's going to make them feel good about sharing it. One of my favorite methods for finding a good headline is to craft six or seven headlines. I'll just do a quick brainstorm. Here are seven potentially good headlines. And I'll send it to group of people that I regularly ping about my post, and just say to them, which of these headlines would you click on without knowing who the author is? It's important to take yourself out of it. You're asking someone to say, if you're in the middle of your busy day, which one of these things is intriguing enough for you to actually click through? And you'll almost always find one or two headlines that you want to go with from doing that method.
So I want to show you what this looks like in practice. I'm going to give you some examples of not great headlines and we'll try to go through a process of making them much better. So our first post, you're a logistics manager. You want to talk about things that you're uniquely qualified to talk about. You're going to talk about logistics. The kind of headline I'll see frequently is something like, New Innovations in Logistics. Now, this captures exactly what's in the post. You're talking about innovations and logistics. But, the headline is so boring and so forgettable that no one clicks on it.
You're doing a disservice to your article. A better version of this is to put yourself into the headline. Something like, I Think I figured Out How to Make Trucking Efficient. What you're doing with that kind of headline is you're making it clear that this is your point of view, that you're giving something unique back to readers, and that they're going to read something they could only read from you because you're putting yourself into the headline. Let's look at another one. This is a favorite among new writers. 10 Mistakes Managers Makes. You've seen listicles online, you know that lists work so you want to try it yourself.
Now the problem with lists, and we've seen the data, is that they get very low engagement. They are totally forgettable. Everyone's doing lists, there is no way to separate your list from anyone else's list. So try to avoid the listicle as much as possible. A better version is to put yourself into it. You might say something like, The Worst Manager I Ever Had Made These Mistakes. Again, you're making this personal. You're making it conversational. It's the kind of sentence that you might actually say to a friend. It's going to encourage sharing. It's really built for a social world.
A frequent mistake I see is that people use colons in headlines. They think it makes them sound serious like they're delivering a very important topic. But the colon makes you sound boring. It makes it sound like it's a paper you've written for college. Avoid the colon. Here's an example. How to Build Great Products: Getting to Yes. That headline does a good job of capturing what the post is about, but it makes it seem very serious and very weighty. Again, you want to shoot for something that feels entertaining, that people are going to want to share, that they're going to want to spend their time dealing with.
A better version of this might sound like, Truly Great Products Are Built By People Who Say "Yes" In this case you have a headline that's intriguing, that's entertaining, that makes it clear that there is going to be some great return on investment when you read this post. It's going to be fun, and it's going to give you the information you need to be a better, in this case, product manager. So again, pay incredibly close attention to your headline. No matter how great your post is, how well you've written, how smart you sound in your post, if people can't find it, they're not going to talk about it.
And, don't be afraid to try out new headlines. When you write a piece if the headline's not working, swap it out, put another one in. I A/B test headlines all the time. I'll write a article, I'll put a headline up, it's not working, I'll change it four or five times in an hour until I find something that I'm happy with and that the readers are really happy with.
- Writing what you know
- Remembering your audience
- Crafting great headlines that get clicks
- Handling comments
- Sharing content on LinkedIn and beyond