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TODD SMITH — Best headlines in a digital age


A well-written headline is worth its weight in audience-grabbing gold!

That is especially true in our digital age. It is difficult to overstate the importance of headlines. A good headline can entice and engage your audience to click, read and share your content. In many cases headlines are the thing that is shared rather than the article. So you knew that. But do you know what makes an engaging headline?

To help answer this question BuzzSumo analyzed 100 million article headlines.

While there is no magic formula for creating a viral or popular headline, there are many lessons we can learn to improve our content engagement. BuzzzSumo shared their findings with a number of content experts to reflect on the implications of the research for writers.

In the survey of 100 million headlines published between March and May, the three word phrases or trigrams that gained the most Facebook engagements (likes, shares, comments) were:

1. Will make you … 8,961

2. This is why … 4,099

3. Can we guess … 3,199

4. Only X in … 2,398

5. The reason is …1,610

6. Are freaking out … 1,560

7. X stunning photos … 1,425

8. Tears of joy … 1,388

9. Is what happens … 1,337

10. Make you cry … 1,287

11. Give your goose bumps … 1,278

12. Talking about it … 1,265

13. Is too cute … 1,261

14. Shocked to see … 1,257

15. Melt your heart … 1,233

16. X things only … 1,227

17. Can’t stop laughing … 1,142

18. Top x songs … 1,092

19. Twitter reacts to … 1,062

20. What happened next … 1,060.

How Brands Tap Into Influencers

As influencer branding has grown, it’s gone way beyond a one-note business transaction between advertisers and social stars.

Between agents, platforms and the rise of self-serve, how brands work with influencers has turned into a complex undertaking. Here are ways they do it according to DigiDay:

Business models

» Spray and pray: Brands ship product to a star and hope the influencer creates content. This runs the risk of being mocked in the influencer community for that approach; according to Collectively co-founder Alexa Tonner.

» Production: Marketers approach social stars with detailed requests for creative that include storyboards. Influencers will then fulfill the request and post the content – videos, storytelling or pictures – on their own blogs or social channels.

» Agency: Marketers come to influencers with RFPs and then let the influencers plan and execute entire campaigns. The campaigns can then be fulfilled via the influencer’s own network or also appear in advertising by the brand.

» Publisher: A growing number of self-serve tools have meant advertisers can create a list of influencers they want to work with, then send the influencers in-house creative. The influencers will post it on their own social platforms, essentially forming a bond resembling a media relationship. Essentially, influencers become mini media companies. A brand that uses an influencer in this capacity wants to distribute a brand message or raise awareness through an influencer with multiple channels, a high number of followers and strong engagement.

» Branded content: Media companies such as Hearst Magazines Digital Media will use influencers in branded content to give the posts extra oomph. For example, a story about a bag line could feature influencers styling the bags rather than a model posing with the bags. That gives the influencers more creative freedom and gets the content more reach.

» Brand ambassador programs: These are more popular with influencers, as they guarantee a revenue stream. A brand will sign someone up for a longer time period, booking them, for example, across prom season, back to school and the summer. For brands, these can be a cheaper get: If you booked an influencer who had 150,000 followers in January but grew her following fivefold during the year, you’re still locked in at the cheaper price.

» Events: Influencers can show up to launches to take a photo or two and share them with their followers.

» Product lines: Possibly the most difficult model, brands can work to create co-branded products with influencers — tapping into the “creator” aspect to work on the product and packaging.

How brands find influencers

» In-house talent team: Major brands like L’Oréal run in-house talent teams that scour the social web to find new stars.

» Tools: An increasing number of brands are working with tech companies to create large-scale whitelists of approved influencers who can then be tapped programmatically or manually for campaigns on an ongoing basis.

How influencers get paid

» Commission: Akin to affiliate models, influencers get a cut every time a promo code is used to purchase whatever they’re selling.

» Upfront fee: Reserved for more top-tier influencers, fees are paid upfront, followed by a rolling commission-based model.

» Gift card: Influencers – particularly smaller ones – will render services for a brand gift card.

» Per click: Used particularly by YouTube influencers, this compensates influencers every time people click on product links in their bios or in videos.

» Cost per engagement: Brands can measure engagement metrics, then apply them as an attribute against different platforms so influencers get paid per engagement (like or comment) they receive.

» Invitations: Influencers receive party invites for exclusive events where it’s normally difficult to get in. In exchange, they cover the event.

The numbers

» Upfront fees can range from a basic $1,000 per 100,000 followers on Facebook or Instagram to a flat fee per photo of up to $200,000 for celebrity influencers.

» Appearance fees start at about $30,000.

» Commissions are usually 25 percent of the sale.

Sick Mic | Sweeping Health Care Reform bill stalled

Senate Republican leaders abruptly postponed a vote on a sweeping health care bill until after the July 4 recess, setting off a high-stakes lobbying sprint that could determine the fate of the GOP’s legislation to replace most of the Affordable Care Act.

The delay came after stalled efforts to tweak the legislation and gain the support of nine Republican senators who have opposed the bill. Now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will need to bridge a divide between conservative Republicans, who say the bill retains too many of the ACA’s regulations to significantly lower premiums, and GOP centrists, who worry the legislation goes too far in cutting funding to Medicaid. Until Congress returns from the recess, there is likely to be a run of deal-making, arm-twisting and lobbying, with voters voicing their opinions in town-hall meetings, Republican leaders offering changes and organizations trying to sway senators on all sides.

The delay is a setback for President Trump and Sen. McConnell, who had promised a vote. Senate Republicans say they must pass the legislation before Congress’ August recess. If that doesn’t occur, the path ahead would become more difficult and other parts of the GOP agenda would be at risk. Success, on the other hand, could boost momentum for other Republican priorities such as a tax overhaul.

Republican senators said the delay had become unavoidable, especially after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found the bill would result in 22 million more people uninsured than the ACA over the next decade. So the Senate is continuing to fumble the political football of meaningful health care reform, so the Senate – and its leaders – gets an increasingly ill Sick Mic!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.


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