What captivates the attention of the reader? If the title of a blog post does not stand out, what will motivate a reader to click on it and read the content? Even the best content needs a hook to draw the reader in and spark their interest. The last few years have seen one towering giant emerge as a leader in the field of getting people’s attention: Upworthy. Their headlines, alternately hailed as marketing genius and derided as clickbait, certainly generate quite a bit of buzz—enough that their content frequently goes viral. Are Upworthy-style headlines the newest and sharpest tool in the web marketing shed, or are they too overplayed to be useful?
What Is An Upworthy Headline?
The news sharing site Upworthy has built its reputation on its uncanny ability to create viral buzz around worthy stories, primarily through compelling headlines. What is it about the headline that inspires someone to click on it and read the article? Upworthy headlines are designed to provide the right balance of curiosity and information in one. They tease the emotional impact of the article, but without revealing so much that the reader’s curiosity is satisfied without clicking. The headlines on Upworthy are often long, sometimes as much as two or three sentences long. What’s more, the headlines are incredibly effective: recent studies show some individual articles are generating 75,000 Facebook likes or more. With success like that, surely Upworthy-style headlines are the wave of the future, right?
Are Upworthy Headlines Overused?
Once SEO experts got wind of Upworthy’s successful style, the use of intentionally obscure headlines exploded took off. Suddenly every site, from marketing-focused sites and even old journalism pillars like the Huffington Post and the New York Times, was featuring these headlines designed to bait readers into clicking. And readers started noticing, calling the tactic manipulative and calling the titles as clickbait. Readers don’t want to feel manipulated, and headlines like these can sound desperate for attention. Are Upworthy-style headlines being overused?
Headlines like these are so frequently used because readers respond to them, plain and simple. A compelling question in the title evokes an emotional response from the reader, causing them to click on the headline. The reason Upworthy has found so much success with their headlines really boils down to human nature. Readers don’t have a question about the content until one is posed to them in an article’s headline. The need to answer that question is the driving force behind the high numbers of clicks, Facebook likes and shares the content ultimately garners.
How Do Upworthy Headlines Work?
It’s worth taking a moment to really get familiar with Upworthy’s style. What is their magic recipe for such compelling headlines? Upworthy headlines use some of the following tricks to evoke a response from readers and earn their click:
- Provoke outrage or injustice about topical issues
- Share an inspiring message from a passionate speaker
- Allude to an odd or interesting fact the article will discuss
- Tease a plot twist to the story and intimate shock at the truth
These are just a few of the methods Upworthy uses to grab readers’ attention. The key element seems to be obfuscation: the title needs to give the reader just enough information to whet their appetite, but not so much that they won’t be fiercely curious.
Overplayed or Worth a Try?
The jury is still out on whether Upworthy-style headlines are more frustrating than they are helpful, but no one could argue that they aren’t effective. If a business avoids overusing this style of headline and focuses on project management to beef up their portfolio, they’re a great tool for grabbing readers’ attention and boosting site traffic.