8 Winning Headline Strategies and the Psychology Behind Them

headlines shatteredRecently I dug into all the research I could find about headlines for a Mozinar on The Science of Writing Must-Click Headlines on Social Media.

(P.S. We have another webinar coming up soon with the awesome folks from Twitter for Small Business—check it out!)

I found plenty of data about what words are used in the most shared headlines and social media posts, how long headlines should be and more.

What was especially interesting was to dig into the psychology behind some well known headline formulas to begin to understand what makes them so irresistibly clickable. Here’s an overview of what I discovered—8 winning headline formulas and the psychology behind them.

1. Surprise

Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, list surprise as one of the six principles of ideas that are really sticky. According to their research, presenting something unexpected—breaking a pattern—will help you capture attention. This works in two parts: surprise captures our attention, and then interest holds it.

Surprising headlines are winning headlines because our brains love novelty. The brain’s pleasure centers are more “turned on” when we experience unpredictable pleasant things, compared to expected pleasant events. Continue reading…

The Complete List of Evergreen Content Ideas for Your Blog

Tree ringsA good tweet peaks at 18 minutes. An evergreen blog post lasts for years.

It’s crazy to see the disparity between two pieces of content that we all create on a regular basis. It’s a little reassuring, too, that some things we make online have a chance to endure.

Having this long-lasting content on your blog and in your archives is a boon to traffic, social sharing, and more. Chances are good your site already has some evergreen articles, whether you intended to make them evergreen or not. These dependable performers are great to have around. I’m happy to share some ways to work more of them into your content strategy.

What makes a piece of content evergreen

Evergreen content is quality, useful content that is relevant to readers for a long period of time.

I assume all of us are already creating quality, useful content by default. The key with evergreen then is that this quality content means something to a visitor who found the post the day it was published and one who happened upon it six months later.

There is no specific length of time for how long evergreen content remains relevant. Some evergreen content lasts forever. Some lasts a year or two. As long as the post can be linked to and gain traffic long after it is originally published, it qualifies as evergreen.

The draw of evergreen content, as Moz.com puts it, is continued, sustained success. Continue reading…

The Complete Guide to Growing Your Organic Facebook Reach

Facebook empty stadiumNowadays, when I endeavor to check my Facebook statistics, I do so with the window open, birds singing, a pint of ice cream at my desk, and party jams playing on my jambox.

I must balance the bad news with some good.

Checking Facebook statistics has been bad news for a lot of us lately as we wrestle with declining numbers and shrinking reach. As the Facebook algorithm continues to change and adapt, we continue looking for answers. Why can’t we reach more fans with our updates? What kind of content should we be sharing?

What can we do about our declining Facebook reach?

The question comes up quite often, in the comments here on our blog and in discussions we have here at Buffer. We’re looking for the answers ourselves, and we believe we share this conundrum with a lot of other marketers. For our experience, Facebook has been on the decline for some time now.

  • Our posts on Facebook reach an average of 4.5 percent of our fans.
  • Overall reach has been on a slow decline for the past several months.
  • Twitter is far and away our top referral source to the blog. Facebook brings in little more than 1/3 the traffic that Twitter does.

Do these numbers sound familiar? Do yours look similar? We’re keen on finding the answers and experimenting with ways to reverse this trend and to get our Facebook content seen by more fans and followers. We imagine you’d like the same for your business. Here’s what we’ve come up with so far.

The problem with Facebook reach, explained in a single graphic

Facebook reach is on the decline for just about everyone. A study by Social@Ogilvy found that organic reach has declined to 6 percent, a drop of 49 percent from last October. In other words, if you don’t pay Facebook to boost your content through advertising, you can expect an average of six people to see your content for every 100 fans you have.

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How to Find Your Social Media Marketing Voice: The Best Examples, Questions and Guides

Social Media Marketing voiceAmong the many ways to stand out on social media—killer content, amazing visuals, specific formatting, and more—one that often gets overlooked is voice.

We don’t want brands talking at us as if we are dollar signs. We want authentic communication. 

Finding a voice for your social media marketing can be difficult because the concept is somewhat unlike other optimization strategies online. Voice is not a statistic you can track or a design element you can tweak. Voice goes deeper than that.  Instead of tracking and analyzing, you can plan and practice. Here’s what I’ve found works best in terms of getting your voice together and using it to interact online.

What is the difference between voice and tone?

When you jump into the discussion of voice in social media marketing, you can’t help but touch on tone as well. The two go hand-in-hand and are often used interchangeably. In this sense, it’s less important what the definitions are as long as you have definitions. You’ll be better off knowing where you’re headed with a well-defined direction.
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How to Perform an A/B Test on Headlines, Tweets, Traffic, and More

CompareDo you ever wonder how often you’re being A/B tested?

The practice is so commonplace among websites and marketers these days that at any given point at any given website you could be part of a grand experiment in optimization. I often hope this is the case. I love the science and analysis behind improvements—both on the web and in the real world—so I find myself clicking a blue button and hoping my participation is making a website better.

I love participating in A/B tests, and I love performing them. We get an opportunity to test a number of different elements on the Buffer blog, always striving to add more value for our readers. It’s an ongoing process for us, and it’s one that I’m excited to show you.

But first off, just so we’re all on the same page …

What is A/B testing?

I imagine that most of you have some idea of the way that A/B testing works (a large chunk of the definition is right there in the name). In essence, an A/B test is a way to measure two versions of something to see which is more successful. This description from LKR Social Media is the perfect way of putting it in layman’s terms:

Have you ever gotten into an argument with a friend about which route is fastest to get from your house to theirs? How’d you settle that bet? You tested it! You both left the same place at the exact same time, went your separate routes, and found out once and for all whose way is the best.

I do this all the time, much to the chagrin of people in my caravan.
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Introducing Buffer for iOS 7: The Easiest Way to Manage Social Media On The Go

launch-graphic-largeSocial media sharing doesn’t just happen at a desk. It happens in the car, on the train, during a holiday – anywhere and everywhere. At Buffer, our goal is to provide you with the easiest possible way to share to your social accounts – even on-the-go.

That’s why today we’re ecstatic to show you a project that’s been five months in the making here at Buffer: the completely redesigned Buffer app for iOS 7.

Complete details on all the app’s upgrades are below – or if you just can’t wait, download it right away for free from the App Store.

What’s new in version 3.0 of the Buffer iPhone app

  • New “Re-Buffer” button allows you to re-post key content
  • Support for Facebook Groups (in addition to Profiles & Pages)
  • New “share next” button
  • Team management: Invite and edit team members from anywhere
  • Deeper analytics: Know how your content performs, anywhere
  • Content suggestions: Keep your social media stream full
  • Advanced customization for your Buffer editor
  • Background updating to keep your queue total up to date
  • Revamped to boost performance
  • New design for iOS 7

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A Scientific Guide to Hashtags: How Many, Which Ones, and Where to Use Them

hashtagHave you ever found yourself explaining hashtags to someone whose only connection with the word is as a telephone button?

Internet language has evolved considerably over the past few years as social media has taken off. Hashtags are a huge part of this evolution. What once was a telephone button is now a social media phenomenon.  No wonder people are curious.

When they ask, I tell them that hashtags are a pound sign immediately followed by a keyword. They’re used for categorization on social media. Yes, they can be annoying if overused. And yes, I’ve seen the hashtag video of Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake.

Hashtags also have the potential to be truly valuable. The stats and info below make a pretty clear case that we should be understanding, using, and appreciating hashtags.
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The Social Media Frequency Guide: How Often to Post to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn And More

frequencySubway has this sandwich with Fritos on it. I know this because their commercials play constantly on my TV and computer such that I nearly have the ads memorized.

Every time their commercial airs, Subway is flirting with the fine art of frequency. How often is too often to share with your audience?

Social media marketers face the same dilemma. We want to connect with followers without driving them away. We aim for the perfect balance of sharing and listening. I end up guessing a lot, trying and testing new variations on how often I should post.

If guessing is required for finding the optimal frequency, then at least we can be making educated guesses. I was happy to find some research on the ideal amount to post each day. Let the testing begin.

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The Ultimate Guide to Repurposing Content: 12 Ways to Extend the Life of Every Article You Write

Repurpose - dollar bill origamiDo you have a “Hall of Fame” for your best pieces of content?

I can recite a list of top content for the Buffer blog as quickly as I could recite the Pledge of Allegiance. We have Belle’s post about 10 simple ways to be happier, Leo’s post about why Facebook is blue, Courtney’s post about emotion in marketing and my Twitter tips for beginners. Our archives have a lot of helpful, popular content. It’d be a shame to just let them sit there!

That’s why repurposing content is such an exciting idea. You can breathe new life into old content and continue to gain value from your “Hall of Fame” posts. With repurposing, you already have a head start on the creation process—and the best parts of your blog don’t need to be kept in the history books.

Benefits of repurposing content

Time is a precious Internet resource, which is why one huge benefit—maybe the hugest—of repurposing content is the time it can save you in the content creation process. Continue reading…

How to Improve Your Marketing Metrics Week Over Week

weekly calendarBuffer runs seven days at a time. Many of our improvements, metrics, experiments, and tasks fit into one-week slices, which helps us to move quickly on new ideas and to revisit our results right away. Instead of it being early April around here, it’s just Week 14.

This weekly perspective has some big advantages across all our departments, including marketing. Reviewing and improving our marketing metrics week over week, for the blog and our social media accounts, lets us quickly experiment, test, and analyze where to best invest our time and effort.

I’d love to share some of our favorite ways to view metrics week over week, as well as some ideas on how to improve key stats and keep things on pace for monthly goals and benchmarks.

(As far as monthly goals go, we have those, too. You can read our latest monthly reports at our Open blog.)

Weekly reports, right in your email

The weekly emphasis on analytics is made much easier when these reports come hand-delivered to your inbox every seven days. Thankfully, many services now send weekly digests of your activity and performance, often with a comparison to performance form the week before.

Here are a few of our favorites. (We’re a little biased with the first!)

Social media overview—Buffer’s weekly digest email

Every Monday, Buffer sends out an email digest, covering your best content from the week before as well as key data on all your connected accounts with week-over-week comparisons. (Buffer user? See yours here.)
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