If you plan on writing another headline, you need to read this.
I’m Tired Of Hurting People by Wise Kumagoro on DeviantArt http://bit.ly/NZamaS
Phew! You clicked the link to get to the article. Cool
You’re reading the second line, which means the first line did it’s job. YES!
Now we’re at the third line which means I should probably get to the point huh?
Ok, here goes…
Headlines are Changing
Saying information moves quick is an understatement.
Upworthy understands this.
Lifehacker gets it too.
They write headlines that grab attention and create a “curiosity gap” within a microsecond.
Sure beats “5 tips to…” or “7 Highlights from…” Doesn’t it?
Gary Vaynerchuk calls it the stream economy. I call it standing out in 2013.
Mind The Curiosity Gap
In 1949, Neuropsychologist Donald .O Hebb made an observed that “humans seek moderate levels of uncertainty, which are more pleasurable and less averse than either high or low levels of uncertainty.
George Lowenstein then built on this foundation in 1994 by applying the “curiosity gap” principles to education by basically stating that students are more likely to learn about things they are curious about.
His research shows that human beings are motivated to learn more about their environment and will instinctively seek uncertain situations “in which they can solve problems, as evidenced by the popularity of puzzles and mysteries.”
When you apply this methodology to headlines, it’s no longer as simple as “Ask a provoking question.”
It’s about weaving that provoking question into the headline, even if the headline itself isn’t a direct question.
Looks look at this at work.
Here’s a sample of the top 4 most clicked articles I’ve tweeted in the last 30 days according to my Social Flow.
Consider Chris Brogan’s “Marketing and Communications are No Longer Just About Talking Well.”
This headline doesn’t ask a direct question, but it does make you ask “Well what’s it about NOW?”
It’s not an earth-shattering question, but it’s enough to spark your curiosity. Which according to George Lowenstein’s research, gets you primed and ultimately more receptive to what Chris has to say.
One that’s a little more complex is Brian Solis’s “Silicon Valley is Not a Place, It’s a Movement…and It Has a Story Behind the Story” tells you a little story all on it’s own and gets you to click.
The story look looks something like this: It breaks common perception (Silicon Valley is not a place), Inspires (it’s a movement) and Intrigues (Story Behind The Story)
Really, none of this is happening on a conscious level.
Going back to what Gary Vaynerchuk was saying about the “stream economy”
Imagine how fast your streams update. Now imagine what it would be like if you consciously processed everything in there.
So what do we do instead? We scan.
If a headline engages your brain in the microsecond your eyes gloss over it, you’re more likely to click.
And clicks are often the start of a beautiful friendship, wouldn’t you agree?