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It is difficult to overstate the importance of headlines. A good headline can entice and engage your audience to click, to read, and to share your content. In many cases headlines are the thing that is shared rather than the article. So you knew that. But do you know what makes an engaging headline?
To help answer this question we analyzed 100 million article headlines. We have set out below our findings from the research including the:
- Headline phrases that drive most engagement on Facebook
- Worst performing headline phrases on Facebook
- Most effective phrases that start or end headlines
- Optimum number of words and characters to use in a headline
- Most impactful numbers to use in headlines
- Most engaging Twitter headline phrases
- Differences between B2C and B2B headlines
While there is no magic formula for creating a viral or popular headline, there are many lessons we can learn to improve our content engagement. We shared our findings with a number of content experts to reflect on the implications of the research for writers. We have included their expert thoughts and advice at the end of this post. We have also included a section on how you can analyze headlines yourself using BuzzSumo.
Note: This research looks at the most shared headlines on Facebook and Twitter which tend to be dominated by major publishers and consumer content. Thus the insights will be particularly interesting for publishers. We are undertaking separate research on engaging headlines for business to business content which we will publish later this year.
In our survey of 100m headlines published between 1st March 2017 and 10th May 2017, the three word phrases or trigrams that gained the most Facebook engagements (likes, shares, comments) were as follows.