5 terrible headline habits

Grabbing readers’ attention is paramount in today’s barrage of information. Here are some common, terrible tactics, and how you can reach your audience more effectively.

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No matter whether it’s a sign in Times Square or a post on a fast-paced social media network, headlines compete for attention in a crowded landscape.

Make your headlines more attention-grabbing by avoiding the worst headline habits.

Miranda Tan, CEO and founder of MyPRGenie, says every marketing writer knows that unlocking the secret to a great headline or email subject line is crucial to getting the best return on a company’s investment in marketing. It’s becoming increasingly clear — as data are accumulated from millions of tweets, Facebook posts, and other kinds of sharing on social networks — that every social media post is a headline and content summary rolled into one.

Failing to recognize the power of that 140-character post, Tan says, is among the worst headline habits. The “80/20 headline rule” is a well-known marketing axiom that says that if 100 people read a headline, only 20 of them will read the rest of the story. In social media, according to tracking data from bit.ly, the online short link generation company, 90 percent of the people who share your content do so on the basis of the headline only-they don’t even bother to click and read the content before sharing.

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