Headlines

Wait, what? Local dog arrested? Okay, I’ll bite.

Have you ever clicked on a link because the text in the post caught your eye, only to feel ripped off and used because the story didn’t really add up to the intrigue of the headline? Welcome to the headline nation where all one needs to do is create intrigue regardless of fact or fallacy.

WE ARE THE HEADLINE NATION

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” – David Ogilvy

A recent survey found that only 44% of Google news visitors scan headlines, but don’t click through. The habit is similar on Twitter. You scan the feed for interesting tweets. Now granted, you are following certain people for a reason and you trust the content they publish is something that is legitimate for your taste and speaks your language. However, you are unlikely to open every link they post unless of course, it intrigues you.

I recently came across a story about Ryan Holiday, a 25-year-old marketing director for American Apparel . The 25 year old styles himself as a “media manipulator.” Conducting an online search as to what this means,

I found this definition: Media manipulation is an aspect of public relations in which partisans create an image or argument that favors their particular interests. Such tactics may include the use of logical fallacies and propaganda techniques, and often involve the suppression of information or points of view by crowding them out, by inducing other people or groups of people to stop listening to certain arguments, or by simply diverting attention elsewhere. (Wikipedia)

He essentially made stuff up to see if anyone would print it. Guess what? They did. What a mess. I read another headline that sought to tie a mass-murderer with a particular political group. Intrigued, I clicked the link to the article. As I read through, I learned the headline was mere speculation, and the source even admitted that the person they were focused on may not even be the same person. Think about the number of people who won’t ever click that link. Many people will take the headline and run with it without knowing the full story.

In a world where stories are broken in 140 characters or less, all it takes is one effectively written message to set sail into the minds of millions of people around the world. Maybe we don’t have time anymore, but does this mean we don’t care about the validity of headlines? We are busy people, and we need content in consumable bite sizes. Even YouTube videos become long winded around the 3 minute marker. People may never get to your link let alone click through to find your message.

Point: Get to the point

The way to create a headline that will truly meet the importance of your message and position it to get in front of as many people as possible is to:

Be creative Be factual Be focused Be intriguing

You could also ask a question in the headline; point to a section in the article, video, podcast and ask what others think. In our world where knowledge is doubling every 72 hours, the headline is vastly becoming the bottom line.

I spoke with a friend of mine who was struggling with getting any traction for their blog posts, even though the content was solid. The first thing I looked at was their titles, or headlines, for the posts they were casting into the Twitter and Facebook world. I encouraged them that when they tweeted specific blog posts or posted them on Facebook to pull out the best line of the article and posting it with the link.

The results?

“When I started posting quotes from my articles that spoke to the main point of the message— the ‘golden nuggets’ so to speak—all of a sudden people started responding . My quotes were getting reposted and shared; I received comments on my blog, and I gained new followers as I engaged back in response .”

They found new traction that not only reached people with the headline, but also pulled them in to get to the bottom line. Make your headlines count. Understand that many will click on your link and many will not. With this understanding, you will control the “game of telephone” that’s playing around the world and within the headline nation.

My aim with my book  Strategistics is to lay out an infrastructure based on what I see is absolutely critical in understanding the psychology of our audience and those we seek to reach beyond our audi- ence. In the chapters ahead, I will build upon this infrastructure with application that will help you drive your message in this fast paced headline nation.

To begin, I want to introduce you to one  of the most important concepts I have learned in the past decade… the concept of the frozen perception. You can read this chapter in its entirety, by clicking here.

So, what about that dog? Was a dog really arrested? Hmm.

Want more from my book Strategistics? Email me at gunsim@msn.com

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