Maybe you’ve been writing your headlines for the wrong audience

Monday at the Poynter Future of News Audiences forum, the director of audience development at Upworthy, Andrew Forrest basically said that the key to their wild viral content success is in how they write headlines.

Upworthy is a content curator that has reached over 50 million people in just a year and a half, with the goal of engaging readers to pass on posts about “Things that matter.” Last year, Pando Daily said that Upworthy, “prides itself on helping videos and infographics about important social issues reach huge audiences through social media.”

How to get the eyeballs in the first place to share their content virally is a teachable moment for any mission-based content creator. At the Poynter forum, Forrest remarked,

We don’t write headlines for SEO and direct traffic. We write headlines for Facebook, which is algorithm driven. We look at what is getting traction on our site right now.

I’ve read elsewhere that Upworthy does loads of testing on their headlines, and processes the analytics to ensure maximum participation.

How much time do you spend on crafting a compelling headline to go along with your (hopefully) compelling storytelling? Are you ready to move on from embedding SEO keywords, and go to work on the Facebook algorithm, creating headlines that engage your target audience to connect to your content, where they are moved to the point of sharing?

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