Do Headlines Still Matter in a Social Media World?

Right now there’s a lot of talk about how social media; Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, are changing how companies interact with their customers and prospects.  I agree there are changes happening, but I also think that we shouldn’t be quite so quick to abandon all that came before in our quest to embrace the new media.

The way I see it, customers are hitting higher and higher stress levels because they have too much to do and too little time to get it done.  Many of the methods we use to communicate with our customers add to the stress because e-mails and phone calls take time away from the things our customers need to do.  The new social media technologies allow customers to check in with us on their schedule rather than ours.  Even though new technologies bring new ways to communicate with customers, people are still people.  They still want to talk to other people.  

So, how do you reconcile the need to communicate with your customers and letting them do it on their schedule?  Present the information that makes it easy for them to quickly and easily find the information they’re looking for.  The character limitations on some media, such as Twitter, make headlines even more important.

Use headlines and subheads

 Headlines and subheads let readers know what you’re trying to communicate without making them dig for it.  With the use of aggregators, your headline is the only thing people might see.  How do you use that to your advantage?  Use the guidelines of writing headlines for your e-mail subjects and tweets.  Books have been written on the subject of writing headlines.  Don’t hesitate to look through some of the classics.  Many of the great copywriters such as Dan Kennedy and Jeff Paul keep swipe files handy.  A swipe file is a list or copies of examples of headlines you liked or reacted to. If you don’t feel like collecting examples, check out the great book, The Ultimate Sales Letter, by Dan Kennedy.  There’s a whole section on writing headlines that uses fill in the blanks.  Most of the headlines are based on classic ads.

Some things to keep in mind when writing headlines:

  • Make sure the headline relates to the topic. Nothing turns the reader off faster than a bait and switch.
  • Say enough to communicate the whole idea.  Use all of the space you have.
  • Ask a question that encourages the reader to continue reading to find the answer.  And make sure you answer the question!

Check the resources available on the Internet.  Copyblogger ( has a great article on writing effective headlines.  Whatever you do, start looking at your headlines.  They can make the difference between getting noticed or not.

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