These two sites are just about the biggest in the world of curation. What’s curation? It’s when someone or something collects content from all over and puts them together making it easier for others to discover.
What Upworthy and Buzzfeed have done is do this at mass. They’re consistently finding content that appeals to a massive amount of people. You’ve probably seen content shared fro these two sites on Facebook. The sites are not only experts at finding interesting content, they’re experts at making sure that their followers know how to share content with others.
Before we go further I have to mention that there are a lot of sites and services like this including niche services. One of my personal favorites is Longreads, which collects some of the best longform content on the web. I’ll put the articles in my Pocket feed and when I have 15 minutes or so (usually before bed) I’ll read one. I just read a good one about the comeback of vinyl in the record industry.
The Upworthy And Buzzfeed Title Formula
We’ve talked about titles before and even in a recent article.
It’s one thing for Upoworthy and Buzzfeed to find great content, but great content alone won’t get them tons of subscribers. The titles the two sites use have to be interesting, making subscribers want to clickthrough to their site and eventually through to the original piece of content.
If you use either of these two sites or if you clicked through to check them out now you probably noticed that just about all the titles on their site do not match the title on the original source of the content.
These two sites have to put a lot of effort and analysis into finding the right title. And for you and me it means we can kind of use the sites to figure out what title formulas are working and we can use those formulas for our own titles whether it’s for a blog post, guide, video or even for a post on Twitter or Facebook.
Let’s look at a couple:
This title breaks a couple “rules” with titles. It’s pretty long. It’s 83 characters. Most of the blog title best practices will tell you to keep it under 60 for SEO purposes, but also because short seems to work best.
I think short is still a good rule to follow, but Upworthy proves that long titles can do just as well.
Here is the basic formulas for this title. Upworthy presents an interesting story (a boy is returned). We’re left thinking, “Returned, what the heck does that mean?”
Then they take it a step further to pique interest and curiosity by leaving it open ended (what happens next…).
After reading the title you really have to click on the title because you’re so interested.
This is a title from Buzzfeed. It’s a little different than the one we just looked at on Upworthy, but it’s just as effective.
It’s still pretty long at 68 characters. Some use the 70 character rule so this one would fall just within that rule.
This title mentions two groups of people that consume content. You have Drake fans and you have Harry Potter fans. If you’re in those two giant groups of people you’re instantly wondering what’s going on with your favorite person.
But then you’re intrigued even more because you see the other group and you wonder what could possibly make these two people similar.
And the title also mentions “meme”. Memes are something that have stormed the Web the last few years. People love them because they’re funny and interesting. So now with the title you have two big segments of the fan population and potential readers/viewers know they’re going to get to see a meme.
Let’s look at one more.
97 characters. Long.
But that doesn’t matter. This title reaches right out to “you”. That’s a powerful rule with headlines. If you write your titles like you’re talking to one person you’ll generally get more response. We do that with blogging and even with business in general. Always write things or go about business as if you’re doing it for one specific person.
The first part of the title is provocative. That makes you look. Then you feel like it’s okay to click because there is hope that this is about more than private parts and more about humans doing great things.
Also interesting is the “You really need to see this…” part of the title. People are generally trusting. Even if they’ve never met someone they’ll generally give them at least one chance. In this case, most people will look at something even if a complete stranger tells them they “need to see this…”
You can use this trust to your advantage. But don’t take advantage of it. If you don’t deliver you’ll lose the trust and possibly forever.
You can learn a lot by looking at sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed. These are two of the most popular sites on the Internet. They know how to do titles. You don’t have to do all the work they’ve done right away to create good titles. Use their formulas to test your own titles and over time you’ll develop formulas of your own that work with your specific audience.
Here’s a recap of how to use Upworthy and Buzzfeed for better titles:
- Make your title a two-part sneak peek
- Long can be good
- People will trust you at least once
- Talk right to your reader
- Talk right to a segment of readers
- Talk about what will happen
Follow these formulas and your titles should improve leading to more clickthroughs, visits and customers.