Will @upworthy type headline work for you? A startling conclusion.
Before I reveal if an Upworthy type headline will work for you, let’s back up and first talk about what IS an Upworthy type headline?
Upworthy is a site that takes videos that are already trending on Reddit and packages them into a super-catchy, super-sharable viral explosion.
Unlike you and I, Upworthy doesn’t have to worry about creating content. They simply take existing content that’s already going bacterial, repackage it, and give it a supercharged rocket booster. And it all starts with the headline.
To get a really good sense of what an Upworthy headline looks like, here are top 10 Upworthy headlines of 2013:
What is an Upworthy type headline?
Upworthy headlines use a psychological principle known as the Curiosity Gap.
Let’s take “A Pastor Asks A Politician Why He Supports Gay Marriage. It Seems He Wasn’t Prepared For His Reply” headline and break it down.
The headline introduces two characters; Pastor and Politician. It already sounds like a start to a funny joke, right? Two guys walk into a bar, one’s a Pastor the other’s a Politician…
All of us have strong feelings about Pastors and Politicians. So Upworthy is tapping into our preconception in a masterful way by introducing these two players to us right in the headline.
Then they add a hot button issue to the equation. Gay marriage.
And then BOOM! The Curiosity Gap. “He Wasn’t Prepared For His Reply”.
So, I decided to see if the Upworthy type headline would work for my business.
I performed a short experiment in November-December 2013 timeframe on Triberr blog. It’s fair to say that the experiment didn’t have enough data points to be entirely scientific, and Im sure the fact that the experiment was done in November-December (holiday season) will skew the data in some way.
I’ve chosen to follow 2 primary data points. The number of first-degree shares, and the number of visits which came directly via the shortner.
Note: Majority of Triberr blog traffic comes from within Triberr, and members are not seeing the headlines when clicking on the Blog link inside their Account drop down. So I’m only including shortner visits in the results.
I’ve compared 3 blog posts which use Upworthy type headlines and 3 posts that use a traditional type headline.
Click on total shares and pageviews to verify the numbers and get up to date info.
Upworthy type headlines:
Sometimes looking at a singular data point doesn’t reveal anything useful. Let’s aggregate these results and see what we have.
First degree shares:
Upworthy headlines got 796 shares total.
Traditional headlines got 952 shares total.
Upworthy pageviews = 1120
Traditional pageviews = 922 (I assumed 300 pageviews for the last post because I lost the data)
Interesting, right? Upworthy type headlines received less shares in total, but attracted more pageviews than traditional headlines.
Please share your own conclusions in the comments, but to me the data has spoken.
I hate to admit this because I see Upworthy headlines as lame and manipulative. Plus I’ve spend years learning how to craft a killer headline and Upworthy essentially changed the game right underneath my feet.
But the data points to the fact that Upworthy headlines are super-clickable even when it’s done by a regular business.
Will I use more Upworthy headlines?
I was really hoping this experiment will be a total failure. I was hoping it would prove that Upworthy type headlines are an aberration and they only work for the likes of Upworthy and Buzzfeed. These “fast food” sites are ruining my Internet and I’d love to see them gone. They are drowning “home cooked” posts you and I write, and I hate that we have to fight them for attention.
Alas, data says that the Curiosity Gap based headlines work across the board.
So will I use Upworthy type headlines more now? I still feel Upworthy type headlines are exploitive, manipulative, and lame. But will I use them? YES! Absolutely.
Not only that, but I will try to convince you to use them as well. Why? Because if we all start using them, they will stop being effective. And then we can either go back to a more traditional approach, or come up with the next version of super-effective headlines.
Will YOU use Upworthy type headlines?
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Founder @Triberr | Refugee from Bosnia | Professional speaker with a real job | Lousy Mixed Martial Artist | Singer/Songwriter | Global Force for Badassery.