Upworthy__Things_that_matter__Pass__em_on_

Much ado has been said about the latest headline writing techniques, such as:

  • I wrote a blog post and what happened next will amaze you
  • I wrote a blog post and you’ll never guess how people reacted
  • This totally shocked me after watching people read my blog post
  • This blog post might totally change your life
  • Did this blog post completely change the way you blog?

Lots of people have flagged this particular style, common to sites like Upworthy, Buzzfeed, and many others, as a terrible, slightly dishonest method of attracting audiences. For the folks who wonder whether it works, the answer is, well, yes. It does work – for now, just as the list style of “6 things you didn’t know about blogging” and “21 ways to blog about blogging” worked for a while, too.

Like any marketing trick or tactic, once this particular style of headline becomes widespread, it loses its effectiveness. Anyone can write one of these, and lots of people are. After a while, the general public and our audiences become immune to its charms. You’ll still see plenty of it, because people are loathe to move away from something that once worked, in the hopes of recapturing the glory days when few people were doing it and the results were huge.

If you like this style of writing, enjoy it while it lasts. If you don’t like this style of writing, just be patient. It will be replaced by whatever the next big thing is. Should you use it in your own marketing? It’s worth a test, worth a try, especially if you can make it brand consistent.

Ultimately, add this tactic to your catalog, add it to your toolbox, as one of the many ways you can write headlines, subject lines, and tweets. Use it sparingly, just as you’d use anything else in the toolbox sparingly and with great variety. What happens next might actually just amaze you.


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