Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Use Headlines to Compose Facebook and Twitter Updates—How to Utilize Copywriting Techniques in Social Media

I’ve done a good bit of copywriting during my career and I’ve stumbled across a really good application for it with my use of Social Media. So bear with me as I give you a little background on copywriting.
First, for those who aren’t sure, the dictionary defines a copywriters as one who “writes copy for advertising.” The field of copywriting has gone on to include many aspects of business writing.
And the primary goal for ALL copywriters when they compose a headline is not, as you might assume, to sell something.
It’s to get the first sentence read.
And that’s where the similarity with social networking begins.
So their choice of Headline, Graphics Font, Format, etc. should lead directly to this goal. And what is their goal with the first sentence? To get the next sentence read. 
This step-by-step copywriting road is also the yellow brick road for everyone who wants to succeed with Social Media.
You see, with a compelling headline a browser becomes a reader. Without a compelling headline, the rest of your words might as well not be written. The same could be said of your Facebook post or Twitter update.
So what makes a compelling headline/social media update?
  1. It must provide the reader with the tools to evaluate the content.
  2. It needs to resonate with a reader’s urgency.
  3. It’s important to show the reader why this offer/product/person is unique.

And, most important of all it must NOT give away the ending!
Not sure what that means? 
Let say I’d written a blog post about how Hootsuite can help you organize your Twitter life.
Here’s the Tweet/Facebook update I’d send out:
Does the confusion of Twitter make you crazy? Visit my blog today for 5 tips to organize your Tweet Life. 
Here’s a Tweet/Facebook update I’d NEVER send out:
Does the confusion of Twitter make you crazy? Use Hootsuite to organize your Tweet LIfe.
With the second one I’ve given away the ending and there’s no reason for anyone to visit my blog.
Now, before we get too much deeper I want to give you a list of all the different headlines you can create.
Direct Headlines go straight to the heart of the matter, without any attempt at cleverness. A direct blog post title might read Free SEO E-book.
An Indirect Headline takes a more subtle approach. It uses curiosity to raise a question in the reader’s mind, which the body copy answers. Often a double meaning is utilized, which is useful online. A blog post I once saw was 7 Reasons NOT to Blog.
News Headline is pretty self-explanatory, as long as the news itself is actually, well… news. A product announcement, an improved version, or even a content scoop can be the basis of a compelling news headline. Think Introducing the New Google+.
The How to Headline is popular everywhere, online and off, for one reason only—it works. An example would be, umm… oh yes… the title of this post.
Question Headline must do more than simply ask a question, it must be a question that resonates with the reader. One used far too often in the writing industry, Do You Want to Get Published Now?
The Command Headline emphatically tells the reader what to do. The first word should be a strong verb demanding action, such as Subscribe to The Write Conversation Today!
Another effective technique is called the Reason Why Headline. Your body text consists of a numbered list of product features or tips, which you then incorporate into the headline, such as 8 Ways to Build a Platform.
Finally, we have the Testimonial Headline, which is highly effective because it presents outside proof that you offer great value. This entails taking what someone else has said about you, your product or service, and using their actual words in your headline. Quotation marks let the reader know that they are reading a testimonial, which will continue in the body copy
With this many types of headlines to choose from you should never run short of ideas on what to post about your or anyone’s blog again.
But remember, it's important to make sure you vary the type of headline post you use. In other words, don’t always use a question or a reason why headline. Shake it up a little.
Now let's have some fun. Can you give examples of possible headlines for today's post?

Don't forget to join the conversation!


  1. Extra, extra read all about using headlines in social media.

  2. GREAT post, Edie! I always love reading your posts on social media. You're a treasure trove of knowledge! :)

  3. This was great! Love it and quite helpful.

  4. Elaine, Great headline for this post! Thanks for chiming in.
    Lindsay and Tammie, thank you for stopping by!
    Blessings All,

  5. Three ways to make compelling headlines for social media

  6. Glenda, excellent headline! Thanks for taking part, Blessings, E

  7. "I Learned Eight Ways to Turn Heads with the Write Conversation"

    Very helpful, Edie!

  8. "Eight Ways I Learned to Turn Heads with the Write Conversation"

    Very helpful, Edie!

  9. Sorry, I didn't mean to post twice! It published my "preview!"

  10. Great info! Oh, I need to work smarter!

  11. Great post - I've seen SOOO many social media users behaving badly lately, it was a refreshing read.

  12. Great info, as always, and this one is fun! My turn, and I actually tweeted it:

    Want to jazz up your tweets and increase traffic to your website? Check out @EdieMelson's quick & easy tips -> http://ow.ly/auTnN

  13. Sally, I loved both of your headlines, thanks for taking part!
    Vonda, thank you!
    Jeannette, I'm so glad you enjoyed it!
    Susan, thank you! It was great seeing you this past weekend.

  14. Thanks Edie. Susan's tweet brought me to this post! :) I'll be tweeting today too... how about:
    "Write smarter headlines to draw more traffic with @EdieMelson"

  15. I really enjoyed this post, I learned so much. Thank you very much.
    God bless you.

    Glenda Parker

  16. Julia, Thank you! (and thank you, Susan!) Good headline to use for a tweet. :)
    Glenda, thank you for stopping by!

  17. Loved your article on 'Headlines' so much. Thank you. My command headline for your article is 'Learn 8 ways to Write Effective Headlines in Social Media'

  18. Jainvit, thank you for stopping by to play! I love your headline, too. Blessings, E

  19. Nice to meet another Edie. Great post!