We’ve discussed molding your content to fit what your readers want, as opposed to what you think they may want, but what about headlines? These ultra-important handfuls of words are the difference between enthusiastic engagement and bounce-ridden obscurity, but they still persistently get the “afterthought” treatment. Your best content will begin – both literally and figuratively – with a headline, so doesn’t it deserve at least as much attention as the paragraphs that follow? We certainly think so, and with Facebook engagement enduring as a powerful force in B2B, a little crash course in effective Facebook headlines is particularly timely.
Ask someone if clickbait is an unwelcome presence virtually anywhere on the web and chances are you’ll get a resounding agreement, but numbers don’t lie. Buzzsumo recently delivered a breakdown of the top 20 Facebook headlines that are working in terms of engagement, and the undisputed winner contained three little words: “Will Make You.” Like familiar marketing trigger words “secret,” “you,” and “free,” these three words invite the reader to explore what the content means to them personally. They may be defiant – nothing can “make” me do anything, hmph! – or they may simply be curious, but if clicks, comments, likes and shares are the engagement goal, this little phrase beats the next entry down – “This is Why” – by more than 200%. That’s a staggering gap and a clear sign that you should work it into your Facebook content headline(s) however you can.
Feelings and emotions have a robust presence in the Buzzfeed list, with “freaking out,” crying tears of joy, getting goosebumps, and being shocked hovering at the middle of the pack in their various phrases. In B2B, the challenge becomes to evoke that emotion without getting overly (read: B2C) casual: you’ll want to keep your message in the business sphere while reminding your readers what your product can do for them. Speak to the frustration of a seemingly-unsolvable work problem, or the elation of an approaching Saturday; these emotional experiences can be just as compelling as consumer-based ones if they’re handled correctly.
Too many companies neglect the connection portion of engagement, falling back on simply telling their customers what they’d like to communicate. Use your subject line to start a conversation, soliciting advice for familiar industry issues or asking your audience what color they prefer for a new product addition. These outreach styles aren’t “just another article,” they give your readers the chance to talk about themselves a little, and be a part of a much larger movement.
In fact, the third runner-up in the BuzzSumo list, “Can We Guess,” gives your audience a fun challenge to respond to – don’t waste it! Put up a poll or spur a comment thread discussion that will keep your readers coming back: remember, if you can get them to comment, most will continue to receive Facebook push notifications for the thread they commented on. That ongoing reach is a virtual gold mine for targeted marketing. At 21 Handshake, we used a poll for a pipe liner client that asked their audience to rate copper versus PEX for material longevity: it received incredible interest and metrics because it was carefully phrased to attract very specific, knowledgeable attention from plumbers.
There’s still plenty of creative work to be done on your Facebook headlines, even if you are freshly armed with the BuzzSumo list. You’ll need to bolster that popular phrase with others native to your industry and audience, and for that you’ll need to do some digging. Use tools such as AnswerThePublic to determine what your clients’ most burning questions are, and what they’re searching for right now. Write with an eye to these specialized industry needs and your headlines will fall into place easily, even if they do end up needing a nudge or two along the way.