Viral Content on Social Media: Headline Tips by Upworthy

"The reason we write 25 headlines is that it's an old strategy from my boss's old gig, The Onion." -- Upworthy's Editor-at-Large, Adam Mordecai

On Quora, Adam Mordecai, Upworthy’s editor-at-large and “loudest advocate for UpThings,” responded to this question: “What tools does Upworthy employ to test its headlines?”:

Here are his top five tips:

  1. Tell a story in your headline, but don’t give it all away. (This is what makes us so successful, though some people really hate it.)
  2. If you’ve got some heroes and villains, play them off each other.
  3. To optimize shareability you want to make sure everyone can feel comfortable sharing it. Think to yourself, “Would my mom share this headline?” If not, do something different. Unless you are only targeting a subgroup and don’t care about shareability.
  4. Don’t depress people so much that they want to give up on humanity. Negative headlines breeds negative shares.
  5. Don’t curse in your headlines. Moms hate it (and are the biggest sharers on the internet by a significant margin. Mothers With Children Under 5 Most Active on Social Media [STUDY]

For the rest of Mordecai’s tips, check out his full post on Quora.
You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter, @advodude.

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