What’s The Point With Killer Content When People Read Headlines Only?

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Most people will only read the headline and first lines of an article. That’s why you can be sure that many, seemingly great articles being shared on Twitter or elsewhere on social media, mostly circle around because of their headlines, and not their content.

The main part of the sharers haven’t and will never read the actual story they share. Perhaps they intend to, but they won’t. With this huge amount of content circulating the Internet, good headlines will be shared but the articles never read.

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Sometimes I feel like the only thing I do is repeating the same message. I’ve said this so many times, yet there’s still much left to say about it:

People don’t like to read. Then, don’t upset them with text!

Write a headline that people read and skip the rest

With only a few people reading content, why bother writing it? When the one thing people care about is a snappy headline that says it all, isn’t that what an efficient communicator should create?

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Provoking words for a writer perhaps, yet something to act upon. I have previously written about The 140 Post – Future of Internal Communication and Future of Corporate Communication: The (Cat) Meme where I, at the time when I wrote it, thought I kind of went to the extremes. But did I really?

BBC in the forefront with short form news

BBC News has moved the needle with a short form news service they call #Instafax (and publish to Instagram). They say they’re still experimenting with it, and it combines a few images or clips with bold headlines which gives the audience the story in 15 seconds.

Instafax critics say that some of the news aren’t completely relevant, but admit that bite sized important global news are of great interest. Others say they actually like the focus on “non-urgent” science and technology news. Many think it won’t replace the other ways they access their news reports, but that it has added another string to the bow.

How to incorporate short form news into your own communication

  • Use it for your CV. It gives a potential employer an instant overview of who you are.

  • Engage your visual followers on social media by being able to tell more compelling stories. Combined images and text add an extra dimension to what you see and share.

  • It’s news on steroids. Whether you’re a brand, a PR agency or an internal communicator, this is the way to cut through the noise. It may be a narrow window of opportunity that goes away when this technique becomes mainstream, but if you hop on the train this very minute, you may enjoy the ride as long as it lasts.

tl;dr

With only a few people reading content, why bother writing it? This article tells you how to incorporate short form news into your own communication.

Photo credit: boltron- via photopin cc

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About the author

Anna Rydne is an award winning and highly skilled communications specialist with +13 years of experience in the field of internal and external communication, PR and marketing. What distinguishes her from others in her field of expertise is that she treats communication as entertainment. It's simple to explain why: if it isn't funny or relevant enough, people switch channel. Anna has a special interest in personal branding and she believes the road to success is trying. Based in Stockholm, Sweden, she's determined to uncover the secrets of how successful people and companies communicate. She tweets about all things comms, social media and marketing @CoSkills and writes for SteamFeed.com once a month. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology. Contact her at communicateskills@gmail.com.

4 Responses to What’s The Point With Killer Content When People Read Headlines Only?

  1. Gordon Gower says:

    “…this is the way to cut through the noise.”

    Once again I find myself asking, so, making more noise is how we are to “cut through”, the noise? I’m of two minds here, I am in total agreement with the idea of creating ‘catchy headlines’ to generate traction… generating a greater swirl certainly increase the likelihood that your msg will be distributed to a wider audience…

    Culling the msg itself into nothing more than a series of “catchy-ism”… hmmm… at some point, if we don’t get our reader (our customers) beyond 140, have we really done our jobs?

    BTW, if it hasn’t been claimed already, I’m laying dibs on “beyond 140” 🙂

  2. Reading skills are seriously limited these days, especially with the advent of the Video Age. There is also a surfeit of information and data inundating the end-user – so quick choices have to be made. This applies even to someone like me, a hard-core,confirmed book-reader who survived the Gaming and Video revolution. Sometimes I find myself skimming headlines – especially when iam cynical about the content and want to avoid negative details – like newspaper headlines, political news, gossip columns, crime news, and so on. Obviously, choices vary – but the bottom line: choices will be made, not because content is not great, but because of excess of content. So improvement in language or presentation, while necessary, may not be enough. Removing redundant words – simple copy editing – may be vital to bring out a message at the cost of flowery language. But even more than that, LESS content may actually enhance readership. Seriously consider completely omitting an item rather than presenting everything in bits and pieces.

  3. Ian Harris says:

    Really excellent post.

    Have you been following the whole meltdown over the content apocalypse?

    Basically people are freaking out because there’s no way to compete with Buzzfeed-style viral headlines.

    I think the only answer is to take care of your audience. You decide whether to pay attention based on who it is. Often you’re aware of the author or the person who shared it before the actual headline.

    Nice original post, really got me thinking.

    Ian

  4. Haytham says:

    thanks Anna 🙂 , this was really helpful for me .

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