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    Why The Title Matters More Than The Talk

    Peter Koechley, Upworthy cofounder, presented at the Conversational Media Summit, hosted by Federated Media in New York City on May 15. His presentation, “Why The Title Matters More Than My Talk” is available in its full glory on Slideshare.

    One of the main takeaways: Upworthy curators come up with 25 headlines for every single nugget they want to post. Then the team narrows the list down to a few finalists, and finally we conduct a bunch of geeky experiments to determine the winner. We obsess over headlines because we want our content to go viral — and writing a brilliant headline is the easiest way to make that happen.

    But how do you write the perfect headline for social sharing?

    It’s really different from the best headline for Google, which emphasizes key words and trending topics. 

    Let’s take as an example Obama’s recent statement supporting marriage equality for gay couples. Here’s how headlines optimized for different platforms might look:

    A headline that works well for Google is when everything you want to know is contained within those few words — meaning there is no need to click through. In contrast, a good social media headline seduces people to click through by telling them enough to whet their curiosity, but not enough to fulfill it.

    Bottom line: Social headlines need to create a curiosity gap. Too vague, and nobody cares. Too specific, and nobody needs to click.

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