A Good Headline Alone Can Drive Serious Traffic, Even if the Content Sucks
Brian Clark said it so many times. The headline can do everything.
Today, as I checked out what’s hot in Digg, I found a disturbing entry on the top 10 in Technology: 10 Most Misspelled Words in Blogs. The writer says that there are ten misused words “in blogs” that cannot be picked up by spellchecking. These ten words are:
Hello, is anybody home? Is this an issue specific to the blogosphere? Absolutely not! Seriously, these are 10 most commonly misused words in writing (period). Perhaps, if we wanted to get picky, these are the ten most misspelled words in informal writing (since second-person is not used in formal writing), though there really is no statistical evidence to even support the author’s claims.
So why did this blog get Dugg? Personally, I don’t think the post itself adds any value for me. But obviously, the writer did something right. In the most specific case, the writer used a list post. The “attention-grabbing power” of this particular headline worked because, as Brian says, “Any headline that lists a number of reasons, secrets, types, or ways will work because, once again, it makes a very specific promise of what’s in store for the reader.” Second, adding “in Blogs” to apply these misspellings to something that’s popular today helped attract user’s attention. Apparently, writing about blogs does pretty well in social media.
This goes back to my rant about Digg: the service is evolving to where people immediately promote a story without considering the content of a post. Earlier, I called these individuals “Diggnorants.” They still are Diggnorants. In Digg, it’s about gaming the system. I found a much better-promoted Digg story which did deserve its ranking and discusses how you can get your content promoted. The first two tips say everything about this particular site’s promotion: it’s all about the headline and description, people.
Perhaps, if someone was really aiming to create a quality social news website (a Digg-clone, perhaps), it may be useful to implement certain Diggnorant-abuse prevention measures. If you’re going to Digg a story, a text box should pop up allowing you to submit reasons why that story has your endorsement. If you’re going to bury a story, you should have to fill out the same text box with a real reason why the story should be buried. The reasons right now (“OK, this is lame,” “Spam,” “Inaccurate,” “Duplicate story,” and “Wrong Topic”) really don’t address all the issues that can arise. Furthermore, the system really can be so easily abused that anyone who is click-happy can promote or bury a story without really thinking about it. And I want a smart system that gives people the ability to think.
Since such a quality Digg clone does not yet exist, I suppose it’s going to continue as-is where people click on random buttons for the hell of it. This is not the social network that I really care for. I must be in a very small minority.