Headlines Mean Nothing If You Don’t Deliver


This week, one of the top-clicked SmartBrief on Social Media stories was from Tim Ferriss: “How to Create Headlines That Get Retweeted.” If you haven’t yet come across Tim Ferriss, he’s the author of The 4-Hour Work Week, and while I’m pretty sure that even the best headlines won’t make it possible to work just four hours per week, this is definitely part of the equation when it comes to creating a popular blog, especially through social networking.

Tim’s post gave a lot of good tips, including some that I use often myself. Something that his article doesn’t address, however, is the necessity for you to deliver on the headline promises you make. I talked about this a little when I wrote “The Secret About Secret Posts” earlier this month.

Unfortunately, when I read a  great headline, only about half of them actually deliver with a great post.

Some of the points Tim made in his post is that it works well to use questions (I agree) and it also works well to pique curiosity with something unknown (I also agree). The example he gives that does this well is “Why Are You Single? Perhaps It’s The Choice Effect” – a guest post from his own blog about relationships. When you click through to that article, it’s entertaining, well-researched, and helpful. The article delivers.

Too often, however, I’ll click on a headline like this one only to be disappointed. It’s just a bunch of rehashed tips that basically boil down to common sense. You hyped me up with a headline that promised to teach me something brand new, and all I got was crap.

If that’s your game – write mediocre articles that have great headlines, yes, you are going to see retweets and maybe even a ton of traffic. Many people tweet links based on headlines before they even read the article or blog post. So, you’re going to get that traffic spike, whether or not you deserve it.

But beware of boy-who-cried-world syndrome. Eventually, people are going to start to understand that you don’t have any spunk behind the spark of your title. You can only fool people so many times. That’s no way to build your readership.

Consider this as well: You aren’t going to make sales with traffic spikes.

Having a huge traffic day is great, but only if you can convert those page views into long-term readers. Someone who visits your site for the first time isn’t likely to buy anything from you or even click on any of your ads. They certainly aren’t going to sign up for your mailing list, comment of your sub-par post, or feel compelled to follow you on Twitter.

Tim’s tips on writing great headlines are on point. Just make sure you go a step farther and write great content to deliver on your headline promises. That’s the only way to actually build your blog’s readership.

What other social media stories were popular this past week? Check out the SmartBrief on Social Media top ten:

  1. Learn the secret of irresistible headlines
  2. 3 things holding back your Facebook marketing
  3. How to blend e-mail with social media
  4. How marketers can harness Google’s secret weapon
  5. 6 niche networks you need to know about
  6. 6 rules for managing a social-media catastrophe
  7. How Best Buy uses social media to wow customers
  8. What should a social-media marketing plan cost?
  9. Why marketers should forget about viral videos
  10. Older generations flock to Facebook
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About Allison Boyer

Allison Boyer freelance writer and content marketing consultant. She also runs the food blog The PinterTest Kitchen with her mom and sister. You can follow her shenanigans on Twitter (@allison_boyer) or contact her at allisonmboyer@gmail.com.