How to write perfect Facebook headlines

Your content lives or dies on the strength of its headlines, and a new study has revealed what phrases generate the strongest engagement on Facebook.

Facebook headlines

With the deluge of content social media users have to wade through these days, the importance of a good headline cannot be overstated.

Most content publishers will have an SEO strategy which will enable them to pick up organic traffic from Google. But ask yourself this: are you recycling your SEO headlines across your social channels?

If the answer is yes, you may want to have a re-think.

According to new research, the words you use in your headlines can have an enormous impact on what engagement your content generates on Facebook.

Content marketing outfit Buzzsumo analysed 100m headlines published between 1st March 2017 and 10th May 2017, and picked out the three-word phrases (trigrams) that gained the most Facebook engagement.

The best performing trigrams can be seen in the chart below. Emotive headlines clearly work best, or those which contain trigrams that challenge the reader. Phrases such as ‘are freaking out’, ‘tears of joy’ and ‘make you cry’ clearly press certain emotional buttons in a reader.

Facebook headlines

The best performing phrase – ‘will make you’ – is a clear challenge to an audience that the content will provoke a specific response. Whether this finding fits your brand’s content strategy is another issue. Shoehorning phrases into your headlines will look contrived and will probably have an adverse impact on your engagement so be careful.

READ MORE: How to produce outstanding content marketing campaigns

Furthermore, Facebook might even demote your posts if it senses you are trying to gain engagement by using clickbait-style headlines like the one below. Announcing three new updates in May, Facebook engineers Arun Babu, Annie Liu, and Jordan Zhang wrote in a blog post:

“Headlines that withhold information intentionally leave out crucial details or mislead people, forcing them to click to find out the answer. For example, ‘When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions And Saw THIS…'”

Facebook headlines

“Headlines that exaggerate the details of a story with sensational language tend to make the story seem like a bigger deal than it really is,” they continued. “For example, ‘WOW! Ginger tea is the secret to everlasting youth. You’ve GOT to see this!'”

A team at Facebook has analysed hundreds of thousands of headlines to enable their algorithm to identify clickbait articles. Posts that fall into that category will appear lower in people’s News Feeds.

You can access the full Buzzsumo research here.

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