What Buzzfeed Can Teach Us About Writing Better Headlines
There are many popular strategies to help improve the reach of your content marketing efforts, such as newsjacking, popular culture posts etc, but one strategy that is often overlooked is resource jacking. This is where you learn from more successful companies by copying the hard lessons they have learned through their expansive resources. One such company that can teach us all lessons about content marketing is Buzzfeed.
Buzzfeed is huge. You may not realise just how big, but the stats reported on their about us page gives us an overview:
- More than 7 billion monthly global content views
- 200m monthly unique visitors to BuzzFeed.com
- 18 offices and 1,300 employees around the world
- 75% of unique visitors come from social platforms
The last of those stats is interesting to me, in that 75% of their visitors come from social platforms. They are masters at stopping social media users in their one-fingered-scrolling-tracks and dragging them into yet another article about food, celebrities or some such.
This is pretty staggering: 7 billion monthly content views with 75% of that achieved from social media – just how do they do this? Simple. With great headlines and great imagery. It’s pretty much that simple. But just how do they write such great headlines? Testing. Testing, testing, testing. The team at Buzzfeed are constantly writing, reviewing, split testing and refining the imagery and headlines they use.
By looking at Buzzfeed and finding categories that are similar to your business area, you can learn and improve your own titles no end. You can stand on the shoulders of these content marketing giants to brainstorm and create titles that help your content get more traction across the search and social landscape.
We are a digital marketing company. So a good few of us (me in particular) are geeks. So, let’s have a look at some recent headlines on Buzzfeed in the Geek category:
Here we see the same strategy across both posts a couple of times:
number – context – popular culture
- 27 – meaningful tattoos – harry potter – magical hook
- 31 – jokes – stranger things – exclusivity hook
But this really goes beyond that. Would the Harry Potter post have worked as well without ‘magical’ in the title? Would the Stranger Things post have worked so well without the “only fans will find funny” hook? These titles tap into creating something that you feel is special for you and the subject of the shows (magical).
If we look beyond a single category we can see these same lessons time and time again, and you can apply them to the marketing of your business.
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This approach can be applied to most businesses as a way to grab attention and allow your content to get the traction it deserves – much like newspaper headlines, your headlines must make your content stand out amongst a sea of competing content. Fortunately, most of your competitors are not using this free and easy way to improve their headlines, so you can get a drop on them by tapping into the hard lessons learned by larger players like Buzzfeed.