Upworthy is a site that has mastered viral content, without relying on cats.
The content they share is meaningful, but as a copywriter, it’s their headlines I’m drawn to which they test again and again until they have a winning formula for each story.
The site is only 18 months old and in the month of September it attracted more than 38 million views.
If you see a headline on Upworthy, you know it’s been crafted based on the science of what words make people click, consume and share content.
So if you’d like people to click, consume and share your content, it’s worth visiting the site and pulling apart their headlines.
I’m not saying you should copy the headline formats like you might do with these classic copywriting headline templates. Instead I want you to get into the habit of understanding what works, and how you can replicate the process for your own business.
Below, I’ve covered one headline to start you off. Let me know how you get on with your headline research in the comments below.
Don’t forget, if you’re in London on the 28th of October, I’m running a workshop with Andrea Vahl: Using Social Media and Copywriting to Get More Likes, Clicks and Sales. Early Bird pricing ends today!
The Secrets of One Upworthy Headline:
Now let’s break it down:
- A Therapist Who Thinks He Can Cure Gay People
- Gets His Just Desserts, Care Of A Proud Gay Man
“A Therapist Who Thinks He Can Cure Gay People”
This headlines starts by combining an ‘expert’ with a controversial issue. The use of the word therapist is important in the impact of this headline. If it was just “man” or “woman” it isn’t as shocking as someone with qualifications and professional certifications making the claim to cure ‘gay people.’
So that’s our first eye-catching headline lesson:
Combining the ‘experts’ in your industry with a controversial subject
How might you use this in your own headlines?
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“Gets His Just Desserts Care Of A Proud Gay Man”
At this point in the headline, our attention is tickled by a couple of themes:
The headline hints that there will be some kind of confrontation or conflict that corrects an injustice. People are fascinated by, and attracted to scenes of conflict. It’s not long before a video of a fight or an argument goes viral (we also like to watch the drama from a safe distance).
Thinking about your industry, can you combine the elements of conflict and justice?
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So there you go, a short introduction to a great site that is cracking the code of viral social media headlines. How did you get on? Let me know in the comments.
Alexander John says
Those are really good points. I will have to think about that, “Thinking about your industry, can you combine the elements of conflict and justice?” That’s a really good question.
You got me thinking now…
Amy Harrison says
Be that superhero in your industry… find that conflict and crush it with your justice 🙂 (Enjoying your vids by the way).