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So you've formed an opinion, found a reliable source as inspiration or have created your own amazing piece of fan art? Great, well now what? You're going to want to turn it into an article.

However, it isn't as simple as merely throwing it onto and letting the internet do the rest, how you begin the article will fundamentally affect how successful it is. Most importantly, you can give your article a massive boost with a good headline and solid structuring.

The first of these things will encourage the internet's flighty users to click on your article, while the second will keep them reading until the end.

Writing An Eye-Catching Headline

An article without a good headline is like a body without, well, a head.

The headline is often the first point of contact between you, the writer, and the reader. In a split second, the reader will decide whether your article is worth clicking on purely based on how the headline sells the content. You could have written a Pulitzer prize-winning article, but unless it has a good enough headline to match, it's likely to fall into the ever-growing pit of internet obscurity.

With that in mind, let's take a look at a few of the basics that make for good social content headlines.

1. Identify The Hook Of Your Article

The headline should always contain reference to the most pertinent part of your article — the whos, whats, wheres and whys of the piece. If you cannot clearly identify a hook, your article could be too diffuse, and might better exist as a series of smaller, better defined, pieces.

2. Get To The Point — Avoid Click-Bait

Generally, headlines should be as short and snappy as possible, while still being enticing. This means keeping the headline oriented around the central point. Not only is this more helpful to the reader, but it will also make your headline stand out. Avoid headlines that include vague phrases such as, "You'll never guess who/what... ." These were in vogue for a while, but have since fallen out of popularity and are quickly identified as click-bait. Generally, these are now used to oversell poor or disinteresting content and people know this.

Don't pull your punches, hit them with your content, especially with breaking news. The use of words such as "This" or "These" in a headline can focus the reader's attention onto what is important and allows for further elaboration (e.g. "This Captain America Fan Art Needs Its Own Movie").

3. Include Emotion Where Pertinent

Often, including a strong emotional element to a headline can further entice a reader to click on the article, while the addition of adverbs and adjectives in a headline can also add further flavor. However, be careful to keep this emotional element proportional to the content and avoid hyperbolic extremes (e.g. "This Video Of A Cute Kitten Playing With A Puppy Will Literally Make You Cry Yourself Into Dehydration"). Readers will soon become exasperated if they feel you have oversold or incorrectly represented the article, or if the content fails to keep the promises made in the headline.

Generally, if the content made you feel something genuine, add it into the headline.

4. Keep The Headline Tone Consistent With The Content

Generally at MoviePilot, we encourage a light, conversational tone in both our articles and headlines. If you're writing about something fun, by all means add a joke, pun or something humorous to the headline. If you can make a reader laugh with a headline, they're likely to click on the article to see what other hilarity awaits within. The inclusion of personal pronouns ("I," "you," etc.) can add to the conversational nature of the headline — but, as above, be careful of overselling how the content will make the reader feel.

Furthermore, bear in mind a serious news piece probably shouldn't be given a glib and humorous title, and vice versa.

5. Include Numbers In List Articles

For some reason psychologists have yet to explain, people simply love numbers in lists. Five, Twelve, Twenty-Nine. It doesn't seem to matter. Just make sure the number in the headline matches the number of points in the article.

6. Consider Asking A Question

Asking a question is a great way of increasing engagement, whether you're asking the reader's opinion or simply setting up the content. They can also be used for rumors that have yet to be confirmed, for example "Has Dame Judi Dench Really Been Cast As Venom In The Spider-Man Standalone Movie?" Of course, if you pose a direct question, make sure your article answers it as much as possible. For example, a headline that asks "What Will Happen In The Walking Dead Season 7?" should attempt to answer that question.

7. Identify The Key Words And Try To Include Them In Your Headline

Include keywords such as movie titles, actor names and season numbers in headlines. This will boost the article's SEO (Search Engine Optimization) potential and make it appear closer to the top on Google and other search engines. Furthermore, movie titles and other keywords will also grab the attention of a scrolling reader.

8. Most Important Of All: Be Honest

An article with an inaccurate headline is not only unethical in terms of writing, it will most likely irritate the reader and result in negative comments.

Overselling an article in the headline might result in a short-term boost in traffic, but you could end up with a bad reputation that's difficult to shake.

Always derive the headline from the content and not vice versa. If you cannot think of an interesting headline, perhaps your content is not interesting enough. If this is the case, considering adding more value with additional elements, or by developing it into one of our formats.

Chapter 5 Assignment

To demonstrate you've got what it takes to craft the perfect headline, your mission is to write an emotive piece, with an equally emotive title. Now that you've seen some of the best examples on offer, use this new found writing armour to balance the emotion in your headline with the emotion in your post. Also, don't forget that 'sad' is not the only emotion- 'excited', 'optimistic' and 'in awe' are all valid angles too. In addition, as a brief formatting note, remember to capitalize the first letter of each word in your title!

Pre-Publishing Checklist:

  • Does your title support the contents of your article, and is it clear and honest?
  • Have you capitalized the first letter of each word in your title?
  • Does your title include important key words and a strong hook?
  • For top-lists - have you included the number of list items in your title (eg. '5 Things'?
  • Is the tone of your title consistent with the content of your article, and is it emotive (i.e. does it invoke emotion in the reader, such as 'curiosity', 'excitement', 'relief', 'joy', 'shock')?

If you've answered YES to all of the above - you should be ready to publish. Don't forget to proofread again though - out loud if you can!

If you have any questions or you're looking for feedback, feel free to reach out to us on Facebook.


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