Nov 20, 2011

Social media has ruined headings

Many websites title their texts with headings that don't tell exactly what the text is about. Those use headings with falsely sets the expectation about the article, but then at the end article isn't really living it's promise.

I blame social media for this. Some websites think they can drive traffic to their site, with interesting headings. Then they post the title to all the different medias and hope for people to catch the link and come to their site. Headings role has changed from telling about the text to being the sales guys of the text. Heading is the one time shot to get person to be interested on the text.

I really hate this. I check tens of texts a day because of a title shared in social media. Too many of those are disappointments due false headings. Headings and the text don't match at the end.

I already have a list of sites I never go since they always exaggerate with their heading and don't really tell anything valuable with their texts. They just make headings out of speculations or copy news from others. Or then they do the worst tell old news with new headings.

Fake article with striking header
Too often there's headings like: "Google's social site is doomed. Will be closed in few weeks!", and then the news is about ending Google Buzz, which no one cares about anymore. So they are not totally lying, they are just setting totally different expectations towards the text.

This tactic might work for a while, but hopefully people will start to realize, that these companies are always playing tricks on us. Setting expectations higher than delivering, is never really a good tactic. I believe that delivery (here meaning quality of the content) is the key to success. Even sites are getting faster growth rates with sensational or striking headings, it still might turn out to be more valuable to make truthful headings about the content in the long run.

I would imagine, that in some companies there are discussions ongoing, that we should concentrate on the texts and contents, not just driving the traffic to our site. Traffic is important and valuable, but traffic with high bounce rate and unsatisfied customers will hit websites to their own ankle in the long run. I would hope that there comes a time, when deception is not a good strategy. With a world of quarterly business plans and short term bonuses, deception is a really good strategy to meet the targets. It's just not good for us the customers.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

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