Now THAT’S a Headline

September 28, 2011 5:13 pm

Here’s a surprise… Sex sells content!

One of the key areas of research in content marketing at the moment – and one that applies to content creators everywhere – is about what makes people share content online.

When it comes to publishing, sub-editors have long been honing their headlines to generate the most interest amongst readers. The same story, marketed with different headlines in different papers, can have a huge impact on which paper readers buy – or, these days, which stories people click through to read in their entirety.

It’s one thing for a well-crafted headline to entice readers to explore further, but for the headline to be the cause of an article going viral? Well, that’s a successful day at the office.

The headline in question recently featured in British tabloid Sunday Sport, and read:

Gordon Ramsay Sex Dwarf Found Dead in Badger Sett

Yep, we were hooked as well…

Viral content creation 101

When it comes to creating viral content, it obviously helps to have titillating subject matter – and that’s something this story wasn’t, um, short on. For those who are not familiar with the story, the ‘sex dwarf’ in question was actually little person Percy Foster, a 35-year-old porn star who was propelled into the media spotlight by the same tabloid just a week earlier when it reported on his uncanny resemblance to TV chef Gordon Ramsey.

While the tabloid, blessed with a sensationalist story (and a complete lack of shame or taste) was clearly thrilled that the news fell in its lap, analysing the headline shows that its success is at least partially due to clever construction.

The mention of a celebrity, the fact that sex was somehow involved and the bizarre circumstances surrounding the tragedy all combine to make this tabloid gold. The headline guarantees a second look by, and makes the untimely death of a troubled man perfect water cooler – or email forwarding – conversation.

Content-creators should be looking at how they use headlines to capitalise on content sharing, even when there’s not a pint-sized porn star and a badger’s den involved.

 

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