Social media success depends heavily on crafting attention-grabbing headlines that stop users in their tracks when they’re scrolling their news feeds.
Of course, this is easier said than done … so, how do you write headlines that make people want to stop what they’re doing and click on your post or blog piece?
Elements of a catchy headline
The good news is, there’s plenty you can do to spice up your social media headlines. Try out the following tips and techniques …
Power words create a sense of urgency or excitement. Try out words like “stunning,” “essential,” “unveiled,” “limited offer,” “exclusive,” and “game-changer” to see if they add that extra punch to your headline. Just make sure that whatever content lies behind the headline lives up to the hype!
Tease your content without giving away too much. “Elon Musk reveals new name for Twitter” is far more likely to be clicked than “Elon Musk renames Twitter to X”. Think of your headline as a trailer: you want to show highlights from the movie without giving away the ending.
Less is more
On social media, short is best. Aim to keep your headline under 70 characters to ensure it displays properly on different devices. Short headlines are also faster to process, making them more likely to catch the eye of a busy scroller.
Numbers – especially wonky ones
List-based headlines perform consistently well on social media, because “7 ways to improve your SEO” sounds a lot more tangible than “How to improve your SEO” – even if the actual content isn’t very different.
Our tip is to go for “wonky numbers” – 11, rather than 10; or 22 rather than 20. This helps plant the seed in the user’s mind that the content must have something very specific to say.
Emojis are so popular, they even have their own national day (17th July each year). Clever use of emojis in headlines on social media posts can really help them “pop” and grab users’ attention. Go easy, though – you don’t want to bamboozle your audience with too many emojis all at once!
(A small amount of) negativity
Nobody likes getting things wrong, which is why headlines that talk about “top mistakes to avoid”, or “the one thing you should never do” tend to attract clicks. Just make sure you don’t stray into clickbait: use any examples of what not to do to demonstrate best practices, so that people don’t feel short changed when they read the content behind the headline.
Finally, good social posts also consider their “findability” by ensuring good use of keywords (the words and phrases your audience might search for in the Facebook or LinkedIn search box). Consider your target audience, and where possible include some keywords in your title or main copy.
Writing catchy social media headlines is a skill that requires practice, and a willingness for some trial and error. What works for one business doesn’t necessarily work for another, so our best advice is to get stuck in and try things out.