With 211 million pieces of content created every minute, it’s no wonder that catching audience attention is more difficult than ever. Content headlines and titles have a huge impact on audience engagement – a headline can cause traffic to vary by as much as 500%.

Compelling headlines are important for influencers because they grab the audience’s attention and inspire action. We polled Linqia’s program teams and gathered their insights on writing ideal headlines. Drawing from their experience reviewing the content headlines of dozens of Linqia influencer marketing programs, they offered the following tips for optimizing your sponsored story headlines.

Choose a Headline Category

Headlines fall into 3 main categories or styles. They are:

Social Proof Headlines

Example: “See the toy that every kid will want this Christmas.”

Communicate that your topic or subject matter is popular with others. Individual choices are often influenced by others’ choices  because the individual believes mass adoption is proof of a benefit or advantage. Psychology calls the phenomenon “social proof” or “bandwagoning.”

Example: “3 tips for washing dishes like Oscar winners.”

Another angle of social proof is “piggybacking,” where interest in the content is triggered by associating it with a more popular topic. It’s a good idea to piggyback off trending events to capture the popular topic’s SEO strength.

Gain Headlines

Example: “Discover the frizz-free hair secret.”

State the benefit to the reader. In order for readers to gain the benefit, they have to click through to read the content.

Threat Headlines

Example: “Is your child’s mattress harmful to their health?”

Promise that the reader can protect themselves from a threat by consuming the content. However, threat headlines should be used sparingly, as they can be misconstrued as “click-bait” if there is not a true threat involved.

Select one of these three headline categories as a guide for writing your headlines. If you don’t know where to begin, start with a mix of all three types then test which category your audience finds most magnetic.

Consider Headline Composition

Your headline directly affects how much engagement and views the content receives. Carefully choosing your words, and their order, makes a world of difference in how many people read past the headline.  

Include the sponsoring brand, product name, or program hashtag in your headline. This boosts SEO when people search for that brand or the associated program hashtag, bringing your content to readers who are surely interested.  

If you have a list in your post, like “5 Essential Tools for Influencers” for example, place the number at beginning of your title and use an odd number if possible. Odd numbers seem to encourage more engagement, as proven by BuzzFeed and their plethora of listicles.

Add the words “how to” to your headline if your headline is a statement. For example, “Apply the 80/20 rule to your online business,” can be made into “How to apply the 80/20 rule to your online business.” These two extra words indicate that your audience can immediately take action by just consuming your content, making it a worthy investment of their time.

If you can’t add “how to,” try to incorporate one of the “5 W’s” to your headline Linqia program teams found that sponsored posts with who, what, where, when, or why in the title tend to perform better in programs.

Communicate how quickly a reader can consume your content. A headline like “A quick look at this fall’s hottest fashion trends” signals a low time investment for the reader. These headlines are ideal for platforms like Twitter, where followers seek short, snackable content. Platforms catering to lengthier pieces of content, like blogs and Facebook, can boost engagement with headlines indicating a longer length, like “29 fashion trends that are heating up this fall.”

Emphasizing the article’s simplicity drives more engagement. Terms like “1 pan cake recipe” or “20 minute bedroom makeover” intrigue audience members because the content is framed as easy to do.

Pique readers’ interest by connecting two things that are seemingly unrelated. For example, the headline “Why should social media managers look to koalas for inspiration?” compels a reader to wonder how these topics are related and click to find out.

Formulating headlines according to these insights can result in a jump traffic and better sponsored post performance.

Use Correct Formatting

Familiarize yourself with the terms “H1 – H6.” These are HTML tags that specify the size of a headline (1 for largest, 6 for smallest.) Only use H1 once, at the very beginning of your post. Divide the rest of your post with H2 and H3 subheaders. This not only makes it easier for your audience to read, it makes it easier for Google to scan your content, boosting your SEO ratings.

It can look like this:

Headline 3

Headline 4

The text of your post goes here.

Analyze It

Finally, when you are finished writing and formatting your headlines, check their effectiveness with an automated headline analyzer like the analyzers from CoSchedule and Sharethrough. These tools score your headline for the strength of the word choice and overall appeal. Test out a few headlines and keep track of which draw in more attention.

A well calculated headline will drive more engagement from your current audience, increase the performance of your sponsored content, and potentially attract new followers to your website or social channels. If you’re interested in creating spectacular sponsored content for great brands, join Linqia today. Share your tips for writing irresistible headlines on our Twitter and Facebook.