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Monday Memo: Social Media Headlines That Drive Traffic

| July 29, 2019

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND, RI — As listeners’ attention – and advertisers’ do-re-mi – continue drifting-digital, clicks are currency.  We earn those clicks, and invite occasions-of-listening, with well-constructed social media posts.

For decades, smart DJs and talk hosts and news people have used email to engage; and my June 17 column detailed techniques for THE most-important part of the message you email followers, the Subject line. ICYMI: here

This week, similar tips, from

Headlines containing numbers typically perform better than other types of headlines. A list-type post promises to be quick and easy to read, and that’s important in today’s busy world.

  • You can use a low number to illustrate how concise your article is, or a high number to illustrate how comprehensive it is. But don’t use too high a number or you’ll lose the benefit of the content appearing easy to consume.
  • Inviting: “7 Ways to Put Adventure Back in Your Business Travel”
  • Forbidding: “48 Significant Social Media Facts, Figures and Statistics Plus 7 Infographics”

Highlight value.  Why should people read your post? What’s in it for them? The benefit should be clear, simple and direct in the headline. “How-to…” headlines work well. The reader can see instantly the benefit of reading the post.

Pique Curiosity. Headlines with questions arouse curiosity; but never ask a question your reader can answer “no” to.

Stay Away from Positive Superlatives.

  • A study by Outbrain found that the average click-through rate on headlines containing negative superlatives (i.e., “never” or “worst”) performed 63% better than those containing positives (like “always” or “best”).
  • Headlines containing positive superlatives performed 29% worse than those without any superlatives. “Best,” “fastest,” “cheapest” are so over-used that they’re often ignored or disbelieved.
  • Negative terms are more likely to be viewed as authentic and genuine.

Add Adjectives and Power Words.

  • Unlike superlatives, which can turn readers off, adjectives (if used correctly) can create interest.
  • Adjectives like “beautiful,” “brilliant,” “effortless,” “essential,” “fun,” “horrifying,” “incredible,” “strange,” “useful” and “valuable” grab readers’ attention.

Holland Cooke ( is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet.  He is the author of “Holland Cooke: Greatest Hits” an instant download available exclusively from Talkers Books.  Click the ad banner on this page.  And he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show on RT America.  Read HC’s Monday Memo each week at, and follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke

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Category: Advice