A quick glance at social media and we know the majority of our community likes reading a headline and not bothering to read the entire story. So for most posts, the headline IS the story.
Why? Because we have too many stories in our social feeds. And far too much information in our lives to be forced to read them. That’s why we like to scan and get a summary of the story. Scanning often means reading a headline and believing we’ve read the entire article.
Research reveals that people don’t even read the complete headline! Instead we pick keywords in the headline (and prefer 3 words at the beginning and 3 words at the end). Yes, it’s gotten crazy.
Your church has a long story with a large cast of ministry leaders who are writing chapters detailing many stories. But your community and congregation (with packed lifestyles) don’t have time to read or watch everything. Sure, it would be great if they did but we’re not going to change their habits!
So what should you do? You need to write your church’s headline. Or be ignored. Here are 4 tips:
- Segment your audience. It’s impossible to write a headline that’ll capture the attention of “everyone”. Instead, seek a large persona (stereotypical audience segment) and write for them. Once you know your target, you can engage them by talking about their pains or concerns in the headline. Or offer them solutions. Pique their attention by being unique or intriguing.
- Keep it short. The briefer the headline, the more people will read it. The fewer relevant and beneficial keywords will help people understand and adopt the idea. How long? Research says email subject lines should be 30-39 characters. Title tags with less than 60 characters get more attention. Blog Headlines should be 6 words. That’s not much! Edit. Edit. Edit.
- Make it a solution. Create a very unique, unexpected, desirable solution that few others are offering your persona and it’ll be a winner. That headline should beg someone to read more, or at least, have your audience remember you’re the solution expert when it comes to mind again.
- Supply support bullets. What if they want more details? They want you to do the heavy lifting to summarize. So write subheads in the form of bulletpoints. They won’t want to read paragraphs — unless the support bullet points are riveting enough to take them deeper into your story.
Worse case scenario? They’ll read your headline and know you for something that’s relevant and needed. Later, in a service, in a social post, or on your website, you can add support material to reinforce your headline. But you need the headline first.
Oh, this headline? We call it a church communication thread. You need to discover your church’s thread. And our processes help. In fact, our full agency process writes it for you! Or we can help you create it too.