Social Media Headlines: The Ultimate Resource

We've been testing social media headlines for a while now with our blog and the Authority Alchemy Podcast content.

So, I want to get into what we've discovered in our own tests, then give you SWIPE FILE and finally show you some good resources for coming up with compelling headlines.

Imagine this…

You have a killer idea for an article, publish it…and nothing happens.

No shares on Facebook.  No Retweets.   Nothing.

You likely wonder what you're doing wrong.

The answer could be as simple as you did write effective social media headlines.

That’s right; simply choosing the wrong title can render even the best content useless.

For example, statistics reveal eight out of ten people will read a headline or title of a piece, while only two out of ten will read the rest of the copy.

Furthermore, David Ogilvy, who is considered the “Father of Advertising”, once said this about the importance of a well constructed headline:

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headlines, you have spent eighty cents of your dollar.”

Now that you know the importance of your headline, you might feel completely inadequate and utterly overwhelmed.

Thankfully, creating an eye-catching headline to draw people in, isn’t as difficult as it might first appear.

To show you how, we have complied as easy-to-follow list of guidelines to walk you through the task of writing superb social media headlines.

Keep Social Media Headlines Short And Punchy

keep social media headlines short

And 70 is pushing it. Shorter is better because, people tend to scan a title or headline, so they typically only take in the first and last three words.

Creating titles that are benefit-driven, optimized, powerful AND short and clear can be a tall order, but short headlines can make a huge difference, especially for online content.

Your customers have shorter attention spans than ever, so shorter social media headlines appeal to their limited time.

And shorter titles will appear in their entirety in search results and social media, and searchers are more likely to click through when they can read the whole title.

Embrace Numbers

Embrace numbers in social media headlines

Another trick in creating a great headline is to use numbers within the title.

If you are curious about the effectiveness of this method, take a look at the headlines gracing the magazines you see at the checkout counter or on your favorite online magazine.

You will notice many “list themed” articles and headlines that start with or include a number.

The reason articles like this are so successful is related to how people read articles today.

Hardly anyone reads every word of an article any longer.

They scan the copy instead, which is why lists or a few points are so effective in articles.

They make it possible and even encourage scanning instead of reading a complete article.

A great way to spice up a list article is to use the “list theme” to share ideas, facts, principles, reasons, ways, tricks or secrets on how to do something.

For example, consider these titles: “5 Marketing Lesson's From UFC Champ Conor McGregor,”and “4 Tactics To Sell Expensive Products.”

As you can see, these titles incorporate numbers and include interesting adjectives. Speaking of which…

Be Interesting  When Possible


Another great way to catch the eye and tempt readers to click on your copy is to use interesting adjectives in your headline.

A few good examples to utilize include the following:


Get Negative

No, being negative isn’t always bad. In fact, when it comes to headlines, negative wording is good.

Use words like “stop”, “without” and “no” in your headlines.

“Stop These Five Unhealthy Sleeping Habits,” exemplifies a great way to incorporate a negative word in a headline.

You can also encourage distrust in a headline.

Tell readers how they are being deceived or manipulated.

A good example of this is the headline, “Learn Why Sunscreen is Bad For You.”

Answer What, Why, How or When

Businessman sitting at the table with laptop and shrugging over gray background

In English classes, you likely learned the importance of answering the questions, who, what, when, where, why and how when writing an informative piece of composition.

This tip is the same idea, but instead of all five w’s and a how, you just focus on what, why, how and when.

These are referred to as “trigger words.”

Why and how are used most often because they tell someone how to do something or persuade them to do something.

Make a Promise


Another great addition to social media headlines is to make a bold promise.

For example, promise to debunk a myth, teach a new skill or tell a long-lost secret.

The idea is to dare and/or tempt a person to read your copy.

Remember, though, actually follow through on your promise.

You shouldn’t trick anyone into reading bad copy.

People hate it when they click on a headline promising to reveal a secret, which doesn’t reveal a secret at all within the article.

So, make sure you are producing what you promise.

Simple Formula To Follow

Well-known physical formula

After learning all the interesting tidbits listed above, use this simple formula to put to together perfect social media headlines:

Use a trigger word or number + a promise+ a keyword+ an adjective.

Creating good copy is of course vitally important to your blog or site’s success.

However, as you have learned, you can’t neglect the headline or title, which is what leads to site visits.

We recommend adhering to the above list of guidelines to transform your headlines from lackluster to intriguing.

Social Media Headlines Swipe File

 Here's a huge collection of blog post titles you can add to your “Swipe File” from Pauline over at TwelveSkip.


  • How To Seriously ____ That Drives ____
  • How To ____ in [#] easy steps
  • How To ____ in
  • How I Made ____ in ____
  • How To Find ____
  • How To Rock ____
  • How To Make A Strong ____
  • How To Completely Change ____
  • How To Create ____ That Gets ____
  • How To Get More ____
  • How To Generate More ____
  • How To Quickly ____
  • How To Deliver
  • How To Use ____ To Stand Out
  • How To Tell If ____
  • How ____ Boost Your ____
  • How To ____ The Right Way
  • How ____ Can Inspire Your ____
  • How To Get Rid Of ____
  • What To Do With ____
  • Where To Find ____
  • Quick Guide:
  • A Complete Guide To ____
  • What to Look for ____
  • Ultimate Guide: ____
  • Advanced Guide: ____
  • Beginners Guide: ____
  • Hack: ____
  • DIY ____
  • Practical Guide: ____
  • The Anatomy Of ____ That Gets ____
  • Full Guide: ____
  • How To Unlock ____
  • Getting Smart With:


  • [#] Things your ____ Doesn’t Tell You
  • [#]____ Trends For [YEAR]
  • [#] ____Every ____ Should Own
  • [#] ____ to Consider For ____
  • [#] Amazing ____ To Try Right Now
  • [#] Insane ____ That Will Give You ____
  • [#] Types of ____
  • [#] Questions You Should Ask Before _____
  • [#] Worth-It ____ For ____
  • [#] Jobs That Will Make You _____
  • [#] Secrets To ____
  • [#] Resources to Help You Become _____
  • [#] Ways to Embrace ____
  • [#] Proven Ways To ____
  • [#] Signs You Might ____
  • [#]-Point Checklist: ____
  • [#] Pointers ____
  • [#] Rules For ____
  • [#] Habits Of ____
  • [#] Things You Need To Know Before ____
  • [#] Ideas To ____
  • [#] Trends You Need To Know ____
  • [#] Best ____ To ____
  • [#] ____ We Love
  • [#] Most Amazing ____ To ____
  • [#] Facts About ____
  • [#] Essential Things For ____
  • [#] Key Benefits Of ____
  • [#] Examples Of ____ To Inspire You
  • [#] ______ That Will Motivate You Today
  • [#] ______ Ideas
  • [#] Reasons You Didn’t Get ______


  • [#] Tips For _____
  • [#] Smart Strategies To ____
  • [#] Most Effective Tactics To ____
  • [#] Most Popular Ways To ____
  • [#] Essential Steps To ____
  • [#] Wrong Ways To____
  • [#] Creative Ways ____
  • [#] Tips For Busy ____
  • [#] No-Nonsense ____
  • [#] Surprising ____
  • [#] Handy Tips From ____ For ____
  • [#] Superb Ways To _____ Without
  • [#] Tricks _____
  • [#] Ways To Make Sure Your ____ Is Not ____
  • [#] Mistakes You’ll Never Make Again
  • [#] Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make
  • [#] Tactics To _____
  • [#] Super Tips _____
  • [#] That Will Make You _____
  • [#] Foolproof _____ Tips For _____
  • [#] Epic Formula To _____
  • [#] Supercharge Your _____
  • [#] Pleasant Ways To _____
  • [#] Insane Ways To _____
  • [#] Unique Ways To _____
  • [#] Greatest _____ Hacks For _____
  • [#] Things You Didn't Know About _____
  • [#] Wittiest _____ To _____
  • [#] Manly Things To _____
  • [#] Outrageous _____
  • [#] Weird But Effective _____ For
  • [#] Things You Should Never Do _____
  • [#] Wearable _____ For _____
  • [#] Kick-Ass Ways To _____Like A Ninja!


Pick of the Week / Month

  • Editor’s Pick Of The Week
  • Readers Pick of The Month


  • What No One Tells You About
  • Questions
  • You’re Doing It Wrong:
  • Are The ___?
  • Why Are ___?
  • Who On The Earth ___
  • [#] Things That Make You Look Dumb On ____
  • You Won’t Believe
  • What an ____ Really Looks Like
  • Amazing Secrets
  • Wish I had Known
  • [#] Myths About


  • Why Do You Want to ____?
  • Is Your ____ Design To ____?
  • Should You Create ____ To ____?
  • Why You Need To ____ For ____
  • Why Should You ____
  • Is ____ Affecting Your ____
  • Quiz: ____
  • Today’s Big Q: ____
  • What The Heck Is ____?
  • Why I Don’t _____
  • Who Else ____?


  • ___ VS ___ : Which Do You Need?
  • ___ VS ___ : Which Is Really Better?
  • Why ___ beats ___


  • Throwback Thursdays: ______
  • Best Tip Ever: ______
  • The Only Tip You Need: ______

Should you still need help creating social media headlines, consider the following awesome list of title generators which can help you to create catchy, inspiring, popular blog titles based on your keywords.

I suggest that you bookmark them and consider using them if you need help creating titles that will generate clicks for your posts.

1. HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator

HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator has you input three different nouns and dishes back five blog topic ideas that will get those creative juices flowing.

2. Portent’s Content Idea Generator

Portent’s Content Idea Generator is as simple as they get. Just toss in a keyword and go to town. This generator has some personality, adding little quips and jokes in bubbles alongside the topic suggestions.

As is common with these generator tools, some blog topic suggestions will come out a bit silly, but spend enough time on this one and you’ll definitely find some gems.

3. Build Your Own Blog’s Idea Generator

The Blog Post Idea Generator from Build Your Own Blog is a bit different in that you don’t put in any keyword related to your industry – you just tap the “generate blog post idea” button and off you go.

You’ll naturally need to customize these suggestions to fit your target audience. The ideas aren’t quite strokes of genius, but you may find something that tickles your fancy.

4. Blog Title Idea Generator

This Blog Title Idea Generator from Inbound Now is basically the same as the one listed above. It’s fine. You’ll probably find some nice blog post title ideas. Not much else to say.

5. Link Bait Generator

The Link Bait Generator isn’t as flashy as the other blog idea tools, with a simplistic, barebones design.

Type in your keyword and then choose whether you’re looking to write a blog post that is:

  • Controversial
  • Fun
  • A List
  • Shocking

What’s interesting about Link Bait Generator is that it gives you some nice insight about what certain phrasing or title structures will work best depending on what type of post you want to write. No other blog post idea generator takes into account what kind of style or spin you’re shooting for.

While the suggestions might be a bit too Buzzfed-esque for some tastes, they’re certainly aiming for clickability. I consider the Link Bait Generator an interesting little dive into human psychology to help you consider what makes people tick and what kind of wording gets them fired up.

6. ContentIdeator

ContentIdeator is another blog topic idea generator that offers suggestions based on the keyword you type in. What sets ContentIdeator apart is that it generates pages and pages of suggestions (although by page 4 it starts to look like nonsense).

You need to put in a broad keyword to get any results. My search for “health food” generated only one suggestion (and it was a lame one), while “health” worked just fine.

I’d suggest going to other tools before this one, but if you’re willing to dig around a bit, maybe you’ll find a subject that speaks to you.

7. Content Strategy Helper

The Content Strategy Helper by Built Visible is actually a Google Doc tool that generates blog topic ideas right into your Google spreadsheet.

The tool gathers information from Google News, Google Insights, Reddit, YouTube, Topsy, and more sources to show the stories everyone is talking about. As a bonus, it also offers outreach contacts for relative topics, which is always handy.

This tool is different in that it’s providing info on existing stories. However, looking at these hot topics can help influence your content strategy choices and also makes it easier to find news-worthy stories that you may want to jump on the bandwagon for.

While not a blog topic generator in the classic sense, the Content Strategy Helper isn’t a bad content tool to have in your arsenal. However, if you have your own preferred tool for keeping track of hot news stories, you probably won’t gain a ton by using Content Strategy Helper.

8. Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo is favorite tool of mine. It’s similar to the tool listed above, as it shows the most popular existing articles (vs. pure concepts for articles).

Buzzsumo is a great study in what kinds of title structures and topics are most appealing. It’s straightforward and easy to use – search by topic or by site URL (it’s always a good idea to check out what your competitor’s topic articles are).

Also don’t forget to mess around with the filters. Confine search parameters to the last week or month if looking for newsworthy stories.


About the author

Brian Ainsley Horn

Brian Ainsley Horn is considered to be the “pioneer of authority marketing”, which has exploded in popularity recently. His unique methods have been talked about and covered on The Howard Stern Show, Wall Street Journal, ABC, Perez Hilton, CBS News , Forbes, Advertising Age and dozens of other media outlets. Brian is the co-founder of the consulting firm, Authority Alchemy, and also writes for Huffington Post and Entrepreneur Magazine about authority marketing and personal branding.

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