Welcome to the last instalment in our series on social media shareability; where we’ve discussed creating content that encourages people to share your brand and buy from you over your competitors. This article’s topics are about the titles you choose, playing into timeliness and trends, and how to use emotion in most kinds of marketing.
Titles are Everything
A title can make or break a piece of content. It gives you a 2 second window to impress upon the viewer and draw them in to see more, so you need to make those 2 seconds count. Consider it like a covering letter to a stellar CV; the title is the thing that the client is going to use to decide whether they want to see more or not. You know your content is good, but the title has to snag them first.
So how do you go about this?
Some people like to use a 50/50 rule. I don’t find it particularly practical, but you may disagree. Either way, it highlights the sheer importance of a good title, and goes as follows: spend 50% of your time creating the content, and 50% of your time creating the title. A good title is that important.
One factor to be aware of is whether you want to formulate the title before or after creating the body of content. This depends on your own preference and ways of working. Starting off with a strong title and working towards it as a source of inspiration works, but if you create the title last you can also factor in any new information you have found out along the way, and play on any unforeseen strengths that you have managed to include in the content.
An important tip is to draft a few titles before settling on one. Tackling the title from a variety of different angles is a must; remember not to just consider the most inclusive title with regards to what people are going to be searching for, but also the title that is going to cover all of your keywords. Sites like ÜberSuggest or KeywordTool.io are a good place to have a play with the keywords you think you need, and get some suggestions. The title is the most important place in the piece to put your SEO keywords, so don’t leave them behind! Experiment with what titles get you the best response. This depends totally on your industry and audience, so learn to use your social analytics tools such as Twitter Analytics carefully!
One thing to remember when formulating a title – be honest! Don’t mislead people in a cheap attempt to generate clicks. Click rates don’t mean a thing if they are not from high quality sources that will genuinely want to engage with you. If you were drawn in by a great title only for it to take you to an article about something totally different, wouldn’t you feel cheated by this bait-and-switch? Don’t do it!
Another no-no is using unusual words in your title unless they are well known terms within your industry, but still use them sparingly and include a brief explanation of the term in the body content, as with any other jargon you may use. If a user has to go away and look up a word, they have time to lose interest.
I’m going to take a step ahead to timeliness for a second, because titles are a great way of instilling a sense of urgency. Also use words to highlight how easy, high quality or rare the advice is. Take a look at the following example:
Which of the following would encourage you to act?
- Ways to Achieve x
- 3 Ways to Achieve x
- 3 Easy Ways you can Achieve x
- 3 Easy Ways you can Achieve x Today
- 3 Easy Ways you can Achieve x in Just 1 Hour!
- Exclusive: 3 Easy Tips to Achieve x in Just 1 hour!
Chances are you are more likely to click on the ones near the bottom because there is more of an incentive to do so. The last one telegraphs clearly what the piece is about, that it’s “exclusive,” “easy” and achievable in a short time. I also said “you can” rather than “to” in the later examples; though it is slight, it creates a personal touch. You will notice that I used the example of a list of three items – lists of things are a great way of making content digestible, which we discussed in part 1.
Don’t forget to include your title in the HTML <title> tag!
Relevance and Timeliness
Many people say that “content is king,” but context is important too – if you are creating content about a topic that nobody is looking for or is about a trend that has long fallen by the wayside, nobody is going to pay attention. Unless it is an “evergreen” or always applicable topic, it’s in your best interests to check out what’s trending.
Keep an eye on current media events and pop culture references to see if you can relate your company to a part of it. A great example from a copywriting and marketing perspective is the hit series Mad Men. It is wonderfully scripted, drawing you into the world of the characters with ease, which has quickly earned it a cult following. Because the company in the series is based around marketing, there have been many nuggets of marketing advice to be learned from the series (in between the turmoil and adultery of course). Many promotional writers and marketing companies used this to their advantage, simply putting the lessons that modern marketers can learn from the series and its characters, such as this example from Distilled.net. There are some unusual professional connections can be drawn from a lot of recent television hits. Business lessons from Game of Thrones? Done. Breaking Bad? Yup. Even Bob’s Burgers gets in on the action. Find a parallel and work with it.
YouTube is a great source of free information about trends. It’s the second largest search engine in the world (not bad for a site that only directs you to content hosted on its own service!) Log out of YouTube (so it doesn’t try to tailor to your own preferences) and type a single letter into the search bar. See what automatic suggestions come up, they are a quick indication of the things that are trending. You may also want to do the same but with a single word to filter the trends down to your field. The logged out version of YouTube’s homepage may also be of some inspiration to you.
However, it is a bad idea to try and force a certain topic or angle. If you can’t discuss it with legitimate interest, or if you try and shoehorn one topic into another where it just will not fit, it will be obvious to your readers. Passionate and sincere interest shines forth and gets your readers fired up too. Genuine interest works from the audience’s point of view as well, is this a topic that you can see the reader genuinely talking about with their friends or colleagues? Is it something that is going to have a positive impact on their offline lives?
As long as the subject matter or industry tastefully allows, it is totally OK to use non-offensive humour, and to inject your personality into the piece. It’s important to highlight that you use non-offensive humour – you’ve got to stay professional above all else – don’t get too wacky or distracted either!
Never overlook the power of emotion in any kind of marketing. Remember that people don’t buy what they need – they buy what they want. Does anybody really need a Lamborghini or a Prada handbag? No, but that doesn’t stop people from buying them.
It boils down to how these products make the customer feel, they are driven by the emotion, not the facts and figures. What are the features and benefits of a designer handbag over one from a high street retailer? Virtually zero, apart from the branding. But certain people feel a sense of style and confidence in using these luxury brands.
A great example that is often made fun of is female sanitary goods. Good taste dictates that you can’t go into too much detail about the subject on primetime TV, so they rely on how those that need their products would like to feel – contented, fulfilled, happy and active.
Alcohol and perfume adverts do this very effectively too. They can’t quote facts and figures at you, or extol virtues that don’t boil down to “smell nice,” or “get drunk,” so they rely on marketing to emotions.
Logic may come later, but as far as purchases are concerned, it often loses out to desire. What do you want your customers to feel when they are consuming your shareable content? Or more importantly – how can you frame your product to imply that it will make them feel better about themselves and why? The customer’s feelings, not just about your product or company but about themselves, are your top priority.
A great way to tie emotions in is to involve your followers. By responding to queries, asking for input, thanking them for responses and giving them shoutouts for sharing or helping instils feelings of belonging, as well as helping them to a couple of ego-puff points.
You may want to seem down to earth and approachable, it’s understandable. One way that businesses try to do this (though they really shouldn’t) is by sharing silly, throwaway memes as content; especially when they are completely unrelated to their industry. Yes some of them can be quite funny, but save it for your personal streams. If you are looking for a professional, you want to see inspiring, quality content that draws you into their area of expertise, not a feed full of Russian dash-cam fails and doge memes. There’s a time and a place.
So what now?
So make sure all of your shareable content covers the points we have discussed over this series – make sure it is easy to digest and share; focus on trust, consistency and interactivity; stay relevant and timely, appeal to emotions, and don’t forget a killer title! You will need to experiment and take time to get things to an ideal level, so don’t try and rush things. In the early stages a lot of that hard work will be experimentation – see which types of content do best on which days or at which times, which types of title are best, which type of media do people prefer and what input are the audience giving you? Play towards any trends that you find. There is no secret to formulating a fruitful and unique social presence through your content – just sustained hard work over time.
Bonus Tip – Always ask people to like, comment, subscribe, retweet, share or what have you. It might seem cheap, but depending on the platform or type of media, a novice may not be aware of these actions. Be open to all levels of online expertise.
Bonus Bonus Tip – If you are creating blogs or other kinds of written content, don’t be tempted to copy large pieces of other text wholesale, even from your own website or social stream, Google picks up and flags duplicate content and ranks it down. Repeat offenders get totally blacklisted. Learn to reword effectively or face Google’s wrath! Thesaurus.com is your friend! A copywriter or marketing professional may be able to help if you are having trouble.
I could labour over a fantastically succinct conclusion, but this video from George Strakhov featuring the indomitable Bruce Lee does it better than I ever could.
Here’s to a happy and social future.Social Media Shareability for Beginners Part 3 - Titles, Relevance and Emotion. Click To Tweet