Making a video can take up hours of your time, but believe it or not, coming up with the right title for your video could take you even longer! Writing attention grabbing titles or ‘headlines’ for your videos is a guaranteed way of hooking in your audience and making them want to hear (and see) what you have to say. If your video is hosted externally from your website, this statement is truer than ever.
What is the key to crafting headlines and video titles so that that they provoke a particular emotional response from your audience? It is a skill in itself and so we have pulled together some handy advice to help you on your way.
1) Learning from the smutty tabloids
There is no time for snobbery when considering the art of headline writing. Tabloids have very carefully crafted headlines and they use terminology that will appeal to their audience and direct emotions for a particular response. If you want to improve your headline writing, start by looking around you and learning from the pros. Take a look at these great examples at Direct Creative’s Blog.
2) Two heads are better than one
The tabloids usually have professional writers who are dedicated to writing headlines alone. If you have been too close to the video from planning through to post-production, it may be difficult for you to see the wood for the trees. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should pay for a professional, but it can help to have an outsider to take a look at your video and give some ideas and opinions.
3) Stay away from puns
An online video is very different to a hard copy newspaper. With a newspaper, your readers are already holding you in their hands; they have bought your paper for a reason and they therefore have a predisposed inclination to continue reading. The Internet is a whole different ball game. You have seconds to grab the audience’s attention before they wander off into the limitless abyss of the world wide web.
For this reason, when writing online video titles, avoid clever jokes and puns. Being too smart is not going to turn a page view into a click of a ‘play’ button; people need to know immediately what you are offering to show them.
4) Don’t forget the basics
It sounds obvious but you would be surprised how many people make the mistake. Make sure that the spelling and grammar in your title is accurate. A faux pas in those terms can put readers off instantly – they are likely to assume your content is amateur and unprofessional.
5) Think about search engines
A thoughtfully crafted title is a great way to ensure that your video benefits from some natural exposure via search engines. When writing your title, consider what you might type into a search engine when looking for your video. Also, take the time to look around at what video content already exists online in your field of interest. Experimenting with the predictive text options in YouTube and Google is a good way to work out what the popular search terms are. See our post on the Basics of Video SEO for more in-depth guidance.
Videos appearing as rich snippets in the universal search results often have a practical focus with title’s that include the following words:
• what is
• how to
6) Testing the appeal of your video titles on personality types
Most personality theorists have identified four main personality types. Be aware of them when writing your titles and ask yourself the question ‘which personality type would be drawn in by this title?’ If your answer is none, then you have a problem. The four types can be summarised as humanistic, spontaneous, competitive and methodical. If you are a Sex and the City fan you can think in terms of the four main characters (who are apparently based on the four personality types), like Cosmo does! Or take the advice of copyblogger and think of more appropriate personas that might represent your actual target audience.
7) Hone your skills with Twitter
Twitter is a great way to practice getting your message across in 140 characters.
Also, you can use Twitter to practice and experiment with different headlines; add a link to your headline and measure the success of your efforts. This will really inform your approach. By using Twitter and looking at what other people are doing, you will learn quickly how to get your message across clearly, concisely and creatively.
So we still haven’t told you how exactly your headlines can make you a millionaire. The point is more that you are never going to be a millionaire with poor headlines. Good luck!