This post will make you write smarter headlines

by PR Coach

Steve Rayson, co-founder of BuzzSumo is interviewed on Venture Beat, and gives a fascinating look inside BuzzSumo, how it works and the company’s latest research.

BuzzSumo is a primary content research tool and Rayson says the company adds more than one billion articles a month to its database.

The company recently analyzed 100 million headlines and identified the most popular headlines, what works best and what gets the most shares. Following is a collection of highlights from Rayson’s interview.

  • “Will make you” – is the most shared phrase, because it’s used to link from a concept to ideas that help people. Interestingly, Rayson said they did the research several times because they were so surprised that this phrase was the most popular.
  • Headline links that got the most consumer content shares were between 14-19 words – surprisingly long.
  • On LinkedIn the most shared headlines were 7-10 words, much shorter than consumer posts.
  • List posts are still extremely popular; in consumer space, the number 10 was most popular and in business posts, the number five was most popular, followed closely by number 10, as in “10 ways to improve your sales and marketing emails.”
  • research posts tend to get the most shares and research posts get massive search and links
  • BuzzSumo analyzes what works but you also need to watch trends and evolution as well is a wearout factor.
  • In legal services, list posts got significantly less than average shares. What works in one segment doesn’t necessarily work in another segment.
  • In health, breakthrough treatments and trials get large shares. “Need to know” works well in health.
  • “On a budget” was one of the worst performing headlines in blogs, but on Pinterest it was the best-shared phrase.
  • B2B headlines: practical content – “how to” – works best. No surprise, according to Rayson.
  • On Facebook, emotion works. On LinkedIn. It doesn’t work very well.
  • Aspirational headlines work very well on LinkedIn – “best, successful, smart, million, billion, global”, that is, typically best-selling business book type headlines.
  • B2B had shorter content and shorter list posts for biggest success.
  • Best shared content on Twitter tended to be about “first or newest.”
  • “Tribal” headlines work well with consumers, but not so much with business. These are headlines like “10 reasons bald men are sexier.” Tribes or niche groups like sharing content within their tribes, but they don’t work as well on business and LinkedIn content.

All in all, it was a fascinating interview and a good round-up and comparison of the headlines that work best for consumers and business.

Of course, part of the fun is testing the research on the headline for this post to see if it draws extra shares as well.

You can listen to the podcast here.

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