social media how toAre you choosing the best titles for your blog posts?

Would you like an easy way to test headlines before you publish?

Good titles lead to higher engagement and more click-throughs.

In this article you’ll discover how to use Twitter to choose the best titles for your blog articles.

Why Test Blog Post Titles?

According to the American Press Institute, 6 in 10 people don’t typically go beyond reading titles when they follow the news on a daily or weekly basis.

It follows that effective headlines are absolutely essential to the success of your content when click-throughs are on the line. To find the best headlines, you need a place to test them.

While your website, blog and social media audiences may not be exactly the same, the overlap of what your readers on each platform click on is likely larger than you realize. That means testing headlines on one platform can help you predict success or failure across others.

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Test your headline first. Image: Shutterstock

Twitter offers a fast, easy and flexible way to test headlines for your blog content. Follow the steps below to get started.

#1: Create a List of Blog Post Titles

The first thing you need to do is gather the elements you want to test.

Testing works best when you compare two options at a time. For each article or piece of content you want to publish, narrow your headline ideas down to two choices.

#2: Test With Consistency

Next, find out what time the majority of your followers are online so you can choose a testing time that gets you the most feedback possible.

When you test, tweet both headlines an hour apart to make sure you limit the variables that affect the testing results.

For example, if you have similar engagement at two different times of day, test both headlines at one time or the other. Don’t test one in the morning and its counterpart in the evening.

First tweet:

905 headline tweet test

This is the first title tested for this blog post.

Second tweet:

1005 headline tweet test

This is the second title tested 1 hour later

Even though people generally do their sharing and retweeting right away, the more time you have to gather data the better. I recommend you give each test a full 24 hours before you compare the results.

#3: Analyze the Response

You need to get beyond the basic Twitter engagement metrics to find helpful insight that shows you which headline is more likely to generate the attention or conversion you’re after.

Use a tool such as Bufferapp to gather and look at relevant data.

Here are the metrics Buffer showed me when I was trying to determine the title for my upcoming blog post:

First tweet:

buffer stats

The headline in this tweet generated 7 clicks.

Second tweet:

buffer stats

The headline in this tweet generated 4 clicks.

As you can see, the first tweet got more favorites, more clicks, and more retweets, but the second option had a much higher potential.

For me the Potential metric matters least, which means I take it into account last. After you use tools to track your own testing data long enough, you’ll start to see a trend of which metrics matter for you. Hopefully you have at least one metric very clearly coming out on top during your testing.

The goal is to have a clear winner when it comes to all of the metrics available. Of course, this isn’t always possible.

As a general rule of thumb, always pay the most attention to the number of clicks. Clicks are a little bit more significant than retweets, because it takes more effort to click and read a story than it does to simply share it with an audience.

#4: Refine Headlines Based on Results

Once you’ve determined which headline has come out on top, create a similar variation and then test again.

Here, you can see the final headline I chose for this article based on testing results.

article headline after testing

This headline was chosen based on results of a headline test.

These first 4 tips provide you a no-cost option for testing your blog post titles. But you may want to consider a paid option.

#5: Use Paid Testing

By now you’ve probably considered the fact that you need a large following in order to gather enough data.

If you’re newly active on Twitter or you want to test your headlines on a larger following than the one you have, say for monetized content, publish your headline options through promoted tweets.

While using promoted tweets isn’t always your best move for headline testing, they do have their place. Of course the problem with promoted tweets is that you have to pay for them. To be honest, most people don’t want to do this for just one blog post or one little article—that just doesn’t make sense. However, if you’re offering a special product, ebook or something that could make you money in return, that’s when it might be worth your while.

Wrapping Up

Remember that writing headlines specifically for Twitter is slightly different than writing headlines for your blog. The information in this article refers to using Twitter to test headlines for your blog or for content on your website.

There are a lot of variables such as different times of the day and week, but these steps outline a good quick test that will give you some idea of which headlines work best.

Although this isn’t the most scientific method of testing headlines, it’s an excellent way to become a better headline writer. The more you know, the better you can do next time you have to sit down and write something on the fly.

What do you think? Have you used Twitter to test headlines for your blog or website content? Do you agree with this practice, or do you think Twitter isn’t the right gauge for choosing blog headlines? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comment section below.

Check mark photo from Shutterstock.
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  • Pardon… is that an ad in the middle of this blog post/article? I couldn’t place the SMSS14 graphic with text (I might’ve missed).
    Tia Dobi, Los Angeles

  • Hey! Amanda

    What are the links that you have shared with the testing headlines? As the post was not published at the time of testing.

    And thanks! for sharing the information

  • I’m confused on how this is testing a headline. I’m assuming you’ve already wrote the article and are linking to it in the tweet correct? Your headline should already be written by then. You’re really just testing what tweet drives traffic.. Yet the example doesn’t give much success to either tweet..

  • Thanks for the post. What did each of the tweets link to? How is it testing if the post already exists?

  • John Tackett

    Nice post Amanda.

    I have to agree with the folks below that this is not actually testing blog headlines as much as it is testing social media traffic response.

    I think it would help the post above to include a few snippets that explain how Buffer calculates potential as I’m kinda in the dark on that.

    Also, I’m curious. Why are Buffer’s metrics more useful than Twitter’s analytics?

    Their ad data dashboard is already impressive and I imagine it’s only a matter of time before their data reporting becomes more complex.

    Just my .02.


    John Tackett

    Twitter: @johntackett01

  • Great idea Amanda 🙂 I never thought of trying this. I knew there was a reason I keep reading articles on Social Media Examiner, love the blog posts. Keep up the great work. See you online!

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  • moviesly

    Hey, nice topic, i am looking for something like a database headline, anyone do something like that ! store headline by topic/category ! by website ! for example viral website like buzzfeed, tech website like mashable ! etc ! news website (crime, politics)! its a huge effort, anyone have an idea about that ! may be someone done this before, i am lazy 🙂 great post

  • Syreeta Albin

    My business partners required IRS 941 last year and were made aware of a company that has 6,000,000 forms . If people want IRS 941 too , here’s