As a former Digital Sales Manager turned consultant, I am constantly asked How can I make sure this social media campaign will work? As with any campaign, there’s plenty a marketer needs to do to maximize success. But there’s one thing that’s enormously impactful and often overlooked:
If the headline doesn’t click in their head or their heart, there’s no way their finger will click.
The headline is the first thing a person sees—and too often the last. Social media are as cluttered today as are every other medium. People who are active in social media are often on several different platforms every day, and every one of those feeds is jammed with new information, new content, every time they check in. Do they carefully read it all? Ha. Do you? Of course not.
How do you decide which items in your feed you’ll read? The source makes a difference, of course (if it’s your mom, you’re more likely to check it out than if it’s Campbell Soup). But the big variable is the headline. Advertising legend David Ogilvy had pointed this fact out long before most of us were born. The headline, more than anything else, determines whether the content will be consumed. It’s at least as true in social media today as it was in magazine advertising back then.
Which headlines are proven to work better?
Much has been written on which types of headlines work better. Social media maven Heidi Cohen posted an article recently that summarizes the wisdom about social media content headlines and offers up links to a number of valuable sources. Drilling down on those links is like putting yourself through a short course on headline writing. Putting into practice what you learn can pay off for you big-time—it can double, triple, even quadruple the return on your entire investment of time and money in social media.
As important as the headline is, don’t use a headline that oversells the content itself. Remember, in social media, consumers choose to follow your brand, to like and share, and to engage more deeply by participating and sharing content of their own. Brands need to earn that affiliation, that love, and they don’t get there by disappointing their followers with a headline that promises something the content doesn’t deliver.
Are you advising your clients about the importance of the headline?
Just as different advertising media offer different benefits and, therefore, demand a specialized approach, so too do different social media platforms offer specific and unique benefits, environments, capabilities, customs, norms, and user expectations. Those who advise clients on social media campaigns need to be savvy about these differences and they need to tailor their recommendations for each social media platform the brand will use.
But one constant is likely to remain through all those differences: The headline will determine how many users will slow down and skim, how many will stop and read, and how many will engage with the content a little or a lot. Tailor the headline to the content, the target persona, and the specific social media platform, as well as to the best practices of headline writing. Is that asking a lot? Yes, but given the huge role played by the headline and the potential difference in ROI, I don’t think it’s asking too much.
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