How to Build Headlines Using Social Media Analysis

How to Build Headlines Using Social Media Analysis Kevin Shively Blogger Extraordinaire Simply Measured

Creating headlines can be tedious and difficult work. The smallest details make a big impact.

I’ll be honest, I hate headlines. I spent years in the newspaper industry struggling with them. As a marketer, we battle the same issue, but with more complexity. We need clicks, but the right type of clicks, the right audience, the right attitude, and the right impression.

We create content all day, and don’t usually have a full team of editors like I did at the newspaper, standing at the ready to validate every headline option. What we do have is social media analytics, and that can be even more powerful when you know how to leverage it. Here are some ways to use your social media analytics to develop compelling, click-worthy headlines without sounding like spam.

Step 1: Analyze Your Audience

Before you even start to think about headlines, think about topics. Start with your data, and a series of questions:

  • What is your audience interested in?
  • Where are they?
  • What do they care about?

These questions can help you establish your general areas of focus, and analyze your audience, or potential audience, to better develop a strategy.

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Your followers follow you for a reason, so focus on what makes them tick. One of my favorite ways to do this is by analyzing the keywords used in their profiles. There’s a lot of data you can gather from your audience that isn’t apparent in their interactions with your brand.

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Once you’ve created a list of topics, you can rank them and create buckets to fill with post ideas.

2. Analyze User Content That Converts

If you have a Facebook Page or a Twitter account, you have the ability to garner insight. There are many ways to analyze the success of a post, but one of the best is to look at the clicks it generated. If you or one of your fans share a link on Facebook, which one works the best? Why?

Screenshot 2014-07-09 12.44.50 This type of analysis will help you figure out the language that works the best in posts on social, and will most likely translate to your blog headlines. What themes do you see? In this example, we can see that questions are driving a significant number of clicks from more than one post. This could be a format to try with blog posts headlines. The other posts all contain exclamation points. Should this be a part of your headline strategy? It’s worth testing!

3. Find Negative Feedback

A solid way to discover what will work the best is to focus on what hasn’t worked well in the past. A trended look at content that got negative reactions from your audience will give you a starting point. Find the days that drove the highest number of negative reactions, and zero in on the content that contributed to that.

Screenshot 2014-07-09 12.13.39What did you do differently here? Is there something you should avoid in the future? In the above example, a large number of negative actions happened on June 6th. If I drill down on the content posted, I can gain some useable insight about the copy, link type, or language used.

4.  Compare Virality

One type of analysis we do on my team religiously is to look at the total unique visitors and social shares our blog posts generate. When compiling our top performers, we look for trends that will inform our future content calendar and headline creation process.

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Understanding which levers you can pull in your headlines is important. If labeling posts as “Quick Guides,” for example, resonates with your audience, this can be a recurring tactic to employ.

5. Trust The Expert Social Media Analysis

In addition to your own social media analysis, there have been countless studies done on the social impact of headline components. One of the most notable was conducted by Buffer.

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We don’t analyze data for analysis’s own sake. We do it to gain insight. In the cases that someone has done the legwork ahead of time, take a page from their book and test it with your own content, as long as you keep in mind that your audience and success may differ from Buffer’s.

To conduct this type of analysis on your own account, learn more about social media measurement with Simply Measured today:

Cross-Channel Analysis

Kevin Shively

Kevin Shively

I manage the blog team at Simply Measured. My job is to tell stories to the internet...You're welcome internet.

  • Courtney Seiter

    Hey Kevin, awesome post! I just want to give credit where it’s due here and mention that the study Buffer wrote about in the post you cite was conducted by Ripenn. They were kind enough to open up their spreadsheets to the public, and we’re quite grateful for that! Here’s their original post in case it’s helpful for your readers: http://www.ripenn.com/blog/7-things-marketers-can-learn-from-2616-viral-headlines/