The top themes in the best Facebook headlines
To get a better understanding of the types of headlines that tended to perform best on Facebook, we categorized the top 60 trigrams.
The best headlines fell into eight main categories.
There was some crossover, but we focused on the most common patterns.
The themes included:
Ranking trigrams were based on headlines that largely focused on awards or public votes.
Headline example: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris: TIME’s Person of the Year 2020 (cnn.com 418K shares)
Newness trigrams featured in headlines that centered around unique, rare or one-off events and circumstances.
Headline example: For the first time in history, U.S. billionaires paid a lower tax rate than the working class (washingtonpost.com 1.2M shares)
Hyperbolic trigrams were ones that gave way to exaggerated statements in headlines.
Headline example: Why Your Older Sister Is One of the Most Important People in Your Life (brightside.me 2.1M shares)
Instructional trigrams were ones that gave way to commanding statements or phrases that suggested some sense of obligation and / or urgency.
Headline example: Everything you need to know about washing your hands to protect against coronavirus (COVID-19) (unicef.org 2.2M shares)
Surprise trigrams included statements that were designed to shock or challenged standard views on a subject matter.
Headline example: There Are At Least 36 Intelligent Alien Civilizations In Our Galaxy, Say Scientists (forbes.com 990K shares)
This type of headline indicated that the content was going to reveal, explain or analyze something. This often came in the form of declarative statements ie. “here are the”, as well as listicle headlines like “X reasons why”, or prediction posts ie. “the future of”. Any headline phrase that presented some form or question was also included in this category.
Headline example: Museum Asks People To Recreate Paintings With Stuff They Can Find at Home, Here Are The Results (sadanduseless.com 3.1M shares)
This headline type returned “How to” or tutorial based headlines.
Headline example: How to make cookie cereal, the hottest new food trend (insider.com 941K shares)
Story trigrams included headlines that were centered around a person or topic – similar to that of a case study.
Headline example: Inside the Story of How H-E-B Planned for the Pandemic (texasmonthly.com 357k shares)