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The Undeniable Power of the Almighty Blog Title – How Buzzfeed and Upworthy Re-wrote the Rules of Capturing Attention

BuzzfeedOver the past few years, Buzzfeed and Upworthy have become central sites for viral content, especially among young people. Buzzfeed is famous for its GIF-heavy, humorous lists, as well as videos and news aggregated from other sites. Upworthy hosts content it describes as “substantial and sensational,” typically videos and infographics about social issues.

Many factors have driven these two companies’ success, but one of their most notable stand-out features are their attention-grabbing, sensational titles. Below, we’ll look at how each company writes titles that keep users clicking, as well as some steps can take towards creating great blog titles.

Buzzfeed’s Approach

Buzzfeed writes casual, enthusiastic titles that tell you exactly what you’ll get in the post. Some recent front page titles included, “11 Very Rational Reasons To Get Excited About Clive Owen’s New Show, ‘The Knick’,” “This Guy’s Ukelele Song Will Make You Want To Save The Manatees,” and “34 Ways Disney Movies Are Completely And Totally Messed Up.”

Buzzfeed’s titles are casual in tone, enthusiastic, and very clear about what you’ll receive once you click on the post. The focus is often on what emotion the content will evoke, such as excitement or concern. Humor is often infused in the titles (as in the site’s content). Buzzfeed’s titling embraces the fact that the short, snappy titles of the print age are no longer necessary.

Upworthy’s Approach

Upworthy takes a slightly different approach to titles. Upworthy writes titles that are provocative and attention-grabbing, but which aren’t so explicit about the contents of the post. For example, some current top posts on Upworthy include, “They Should Probably Stop Looking At Your Dirty Texts (And All The Other Ones Too),” “Rarely Does A Graphic Make Me Feel Like I Can Make A Difference In The World. This One Did.,” and “The Science Experiment That Scientists Can’t Explain.”

When you click on an Upworthy post, you don’t know exactly what kind of post you’ll get or even what the subject of the post is, but you do have the website’s endorsement that it will be powerful and fascinating. Upworthy uses casual language to vouch for the quality of its content without giving away the details.

How You Can Write Attention-Grabbing Titles

So how do these methods translate to crafting great blog titles in content marketing? Although the casual, enthusiastic manner taken by Buzzfeed and Upworthy keeps people clicking on those sites, a slightly different approach is needed when creating great blog titles for marketing purposes.

When you start developing a piece of content, start out with a working blog title that addresses what  you’ll be exploring in the blog – this will be the more traditional type of title, which would be exceptional but not stellar if actually used. From there, use these tips to bring it up to par:

  • Avoid hyperbole – It can be tempting to use hyperbole in your blog titles, as it can make the title more appealing and potentially get more people to click. However, accuracy is of the utmost importance. As much as you want your title to be enthusiastic, avoid making any claims in the title that you won’t fully back up in the article.
  • Use strong language – Titles aren’t the place to mince words; they’re the place to use strong language that makes a statement. Look at the title of this post – words like “undeniable,” “power,” and “almighty” pack a big punch. It’s also important to have an idea of what type of language resonates with your audience.
  • Tell what the content is – Take a page from Buzzfeed’s book and tell the reader exactly what content they’ll be receiving. The title should make it clear if the content will be a list, a video, a download, and so on.
  • Optimize for SEO – If possible, include a keyword in your blog title. This is helpful for SEO purposes, but can’t always be naturally worked in.
  • Keep it short – Long titles may sometimes be useful (see the title of this post!), but you should avoid being wordy in places where it isn’t necessary to do so.

What do you think of Buzzfeed and Upworthy’s titles? Share in the comments!

 

About Jon wuebben

Jon Wuebben is the CEO of Content Launch, which offers the first content marketing software built for small and medium sized businesses (SMB’s) and digital agencies. Content Launch also provides content writing and content strategy services for hundreds of companies and digital agencies. His book, "Content is Currency: Developing Powerful Content for Web & Mobile", helps businesses learn how to plan, create, distribute and manage content. "Content is Currency" has been published in six countries worldwide.


Jon has spoken at Content Marketing World, Online Marketing Summit, South by Southwest (SXSW), Marketing Profs B2B Forum, Search Marketing Expo (SMX), Social Media Marketing World, New Media Expo, Intelligent Content Conference, Content Marketing Retreat, Lavacon, ADMA (Australia), BIA Kelsey Small Business Forum, the Media Relations Summit and for many organizations, including Hubspot, Intuit, the American Marketing Association and Shop.org as well as industry groups in the areas of content marketing, mobile marketing and entrepreneurship. He has been listed as a thought leader in the content marketing space by countless publications since 2008.


Jon has an MBA in International Marketing from Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management. He is also the author of "Content Rich: Writing Your Way to Wealth on the Web". In the political world, he has worked for Senator John McCain, Vice President Dan Quayle and the Republican National Convention. A prolific songwriter, Jon is releasing his first album of pop songs, "The NightBird" in 2016.


Find out more at contentlaunch.com and contentiscurrrency.com

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