Why do businesses have Twitter accounts? After all, how much can they educate, entertain, or inspire an audience in 280 characters?
Obviously, the purpose is not to directly market products or services. The purpose is to capture, intrigue, and engage and then drive a reader/viewer/follower to click through to other content that will be amazing and valuable.
Like every other social media platform, though, your tweets are no more than a drop in a huge ocean. Sure, you can do all the research, come up with hashtags that will help searchers find you, look for influencers who will give you mentions, and try a host of other strategies to grow a following, get retweets, and ultimately get that following to your site and blog where you can begin to develop relationships, demonstrate your value, and get those conversions.
What businesses with a Twitter presence often overlook is the power of a headline. Think of all the types of headlines that consumers see every day – news stories, email subject lines, e-books, blog posts, webinars, podcasts, etc. Now, think about those headlines that capture your attention and motivate you to move on to the actual piece. What about those words that attracted you? And how can you create Twitter headlines that have that same effect on others?
Here are 17 tips to help you develop the types of headlines that will resonate and gain the kind of traction that will put you on the Twitter “map.”
Tip 1: Don’t Be Afraid to Be a Bit Weird
“Weird” can be captivating, as long as you know your audience and the kind of weirdness it appreciates. Now, this obviously will not work for some products/services (funeral plans, for example), but for lots of consumer goods, it will.
Suppose you sell seasonal lawn and garden equipment. How about a tweet headline like one from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Forecasters call for weather on Monday.”
Or suppose you own a chain of frozen yogurt stores. A title such as “Drop in Mile Prices Threatens Cows’ Employment” would probably create a laugh and motivate a click-through.
If you have the right understanding of your audience, you will be able to craft weirdness that will make them laugh and motivate click-throughs.
Tip 2: Use Numbers and Lists
These are always eye-catching. If your products/services are for student consumers, a title like the five best academic writing services should appeal. By the same token, how about a list of the five worst academic writing services? Students looking for writing help will certainly click through to your blog post, find such companies as Supreme Dissertations, Trust My Paper, freelance writing sites, and can get details on their services.
Suppose you sell disposable razors. How about a title, “5 Reasons Why She Doesn’t Want to Kiss You.”
If you sell running shoes, you could provide a title, “7 Ways to Prolong the Life of Your Running Shoes.” Given that these can be pricey, runners may certainly want to get these tips.
Just be certain you give what you promise when followers click through to your content.
Other “power” words you can use in these headlines are such terms as tips, reasons, facts, statistics, ideas, etc.
Tip 3: Make a Promise
This is a type of value proposition. Here’s a typical title: “Transform a dull fireplace in a day.” No matter what your product or service, show the value of clicking through to your content. And whatever you have promised must be delivered.
Tip 4: Play Upon Doubt/Fear
Consumers are naturally a bit suspicious. And when “dirty little secrets” are revealed, they are immediately interested. If you sell healthy food alternatives, then a title such as “when organic is not really organic” or “the big lie about free range” will certainly strike a nerve.
Tip 5: “How-To’s” Can Resonate
If you provide products or services that require some learning curve, small or more complex, then you want to reassure your audience that you will be providing that education and help.
If you sell exterior deck paint and stain, the tweet titles should include such items as “6 steps to get your deck ready for re-staining” or “how to choose the right paint for your deck.” Linking to a YouTube video on preparing a deck for re-staining would be perfect.
Tip 6: Create a Sense of Urgency
“Read this if you are about to buy a house” puts a bit of fear into the hearts of homebuyers, but chances are they will click through to see what they may have missed.
Unfortunately, titles with a sense of urgency usually promote products, and you should avoid this if possible. But you can create that urgency with other titles:
“Don’t replace that dishwasher until you read this”
“Can Your Home Become a Mold Factory?”
Tip 7: Ask a Question
“Are your IoT home devices really secure?” This should catch the eye of anyone who has recently installed such items.
Questions can also be in the form of a request for feedback or to take a survey.
Tip 8: Quizzes are Fun
Not every headline must point to a blog post that has only serious content. Part of building relationships means having some fun too. Have a headline that invites followers to take a quiz on an unrelated topic.
“What kind of dog would you be?” Provide a link to the quiz.
And if you ask for participation, then promise to share the results in an upcoming tweet.
Tip 9: Compare Two Unlike Things
These are always intriguing. In an article on creating headlines, Neil Patel gives this example: “6 Reasons Bacon is Better Than True Love.” Of course, if you do choose a title like this, you had better be ready to deliver on it.
Tip 10: Brainstorm Possible Titles
News outlets like Upworthy have a team of headline generators. For every story, they come up with 25 possible headlines. The ultimate choice is always a “win.”. You probably do not have such a team, but you do have friends – Schedule a happy hour and let everyone’s creative juices flow.
Here’s a couple of examples:
“Hide Veggies in Your Kids’ Food Without Getting Caught”
“Clothes you need to dump right now!”
“Three things never to say on a first date.”
Just be certain that your audience will find these compelling – they’ll want to know.
Tip 11: Get Your Keywords into Your Title
This does two things. First, it promotes SEO. But more important, it also tells your followers exactly what content they will find when they click through. Headlines should never be vague, and there should be no surprises once someone arrives at a piece of content based upon your headline.
Tip 12: Add Images if Possible
Now that Twitter allows images, use them to your advantage. We know that consumers process visuals about 60K faster than words and that they prefer visuals to text. Create a short title and add that photo, infographic, etc.
Tip 13: Keep Your Titles Relatively Short
This is not always possible, but if you can shoot for about 14 words in a title, you will have one that the human brain can process and remember.
Tip 14: Use a Headline Analyzer
There are plenty of tools that will analyze headlines on a number of criteria. Let’s just take a look at Co-Schedule, a tool that is simple and based upon scientific algorithms. You can enter your title and have it analyzed for emotional appeal, intellectual appeal, use of “power” words, and more. You will get percentages and recommendations.
Tip 15: Use Second-Person
When “you” is a part of the headline, that headline is far more personalized. Look at this difference: “5 Ways Consumers Can Protect Their Identities” vs. “5 Ways You Can Protect Your Online Identity.”
Tip 16: Promote a Guide
Your guide doesn’t have to be a lengthy e-book. It can be something as simple as a guide to the best dog breeds for owner lifestyles. Use a headline that promises unique information that regular pet owners may not have. “How compatible is your dog with your lifestyle?”
You can even get more specific: “Best dog breeds for couch potatoes” or “Couch Potatoes: here are the best dog pals for you.”
Tip 17: Always Test Your Headlines
You could have as many as five versions of a headline for a tweet. Publish them all. And then use a testing tool, perhaps Buffer, to analyze the popularity of each of those headlines.
For example, you can publish two headlines for the same content link:
“Here’s how much water it takes to produce a pair of jeans.”
“The shocking truth about water and jeans.”
Buffer will then collect the data on the response to each headline and produce a detailed report about the popularity of each.
Don’t Cut Corners
You spend a lot of time on your blog posts and other content. And there’s only one reason why you do this. You want readers and followers. You want your audience to like what you offer; you want it to share your content with others; you want to build relationships with your readers. And ultimately, you want them to trust you when they are ready to make a purchase.
But nothing really happens until a consumer lands on your blog, reads some of your posts, and is impressed.
The key is to get those audience members to come. You have lots of strategies to do this, one of which is to use your Twitter account to drive them there.
You have very few characters to appeal enough so that a reader/follower will take that step to click through. And that appeal has to come through your title. It has to be amazing.
Study these seventeen tips carefully. These are things you can do right now and get results that you can actually measure.
Nicole Garrison is a content strategist, writer, and contributor on a number of platforms for marketing specialists. She is a dedicated and experienced author who pays particular attention to quality research. Moreover, she runs her own blog LiveInspiredMagazine.