My Secret Weapon to Attracting 387% More Viewers to my Content Than I Did Last Year

Write Headline, Email Subject, and Social Media Captions That Don’t Suck

About Shaun-Patrick

You might not know of me, but I’ve been in the digital marketing (particularly in entertainment) industry since 1997 and I’ve done a lot of campaigns with small, mom and pop businesses and countless Fortune 500 companies. I’ve also helped thousands of entrepreneurs go from relatively unknown to market leaders over the past two decades.


Interestingly, I was able to shine in the mobile marketing arena back in the 90s.  I know what you’re thinking, “Back in the ‘90s there was no mobile marketing industry!!”  Actually, there was.  It was mostly with a niche audience of entertainment executives (sports, fashion, music, etc).  Back in the day we all had huge black or gray Motorola two-way pagers (service usually provided by Skytel or Worldcom) that we would use to communicate by text messaging BEFORE inter-carrier texting ever took off.  Those devices allowed me to excel with mobile marketing by pinpointing my audience with very specific detail that advertisers loved.


Having a nationwide database of entertainment executives I was able to use location-based and time-sensitive principles to market entertainment news and events directly to my subscribers’ mobile phones and pagers.  I was 22 at the time and I was making more money doing that than when I was running the payroll department for a 5-star luxury hotel.  Go figure!!

Soon after I was running digital and mobile marketing campaigns for over half a dozen ad agencies and with clients such as Warner Media, The Walt Disney Corporation, Cox Media, DIRECTV, NBC Universal, Equifax, Wells Fargo, Timberland Boots, MTV, Johnnie Walker, Sony Records, DIRECTV, Lincoln Motors, Texas Instruments, Reebok and many others.  My little company was even lucky enough to be the only mobile marketing firm to help launch the “Dave Chappelle Show.”

Then about 12 years ago, I disappeared from the entrepreneurial-development scene and began my career as an enterprise consultant.  Even though it was very financially rewarding, it was sometimes extremely exhausting. So two years ago, I started working on a new software platform based on the principles that I’ve used to help my enterprise clients gain millions of followers and… hundreds of millions of dollars.

I’ve been around for quite a while, yet I’m still not widely known since I’ve only allowed a handful of companies and clients to get access to the software.  That’s because, for the last decade, I’ve been working behind-the-scenes with advertising agencies, marketing firms, and those huge corporate entities.  And honestly, I used to prefer it that way. If it weren’t for a few friends or clients of mine urging me to show everyone this software platform I probably wouldn’t even have mentioned it.

I still feel awkward when I have to bring it up, but I tell you this only because it’s important to help you understand that I’m not just some fly-by-night newbie who thinks he knows about digital marketing.  My marketing and technical experiences with my clients have helped shaped the new career that I’m embarking on now.

Now let’s get into it….


My email, mobile, and social media campaigns only worked as well as they did because of the use of my software and the headlines I wrote for my clients were designed to get the users to take massive action.

67 Shocking Headline Formulas Guaranteed To Drive Traffic

Here’s the trick to funneling traffic from the social web.

Write better headlines!!

Of course, you need to be participating in conversations and engaging with customers, prospects, and partners on social media.  That’s what social media is about.  It’s about connecting with people whom you may not ordinarily have the opportunity.

But sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are an endless flow of information snippets, each with the life expectancy of a fruit fly. If your goal is to encourage a click from a social site to a landing page or a piece of content you will need to learn how to write status updates (headlines) that get clicks.

Consider the sample (red) post below.

It’s pretty simple.  Eight words and a link.  We know that this headline will get clicks – as simple as it is – to a webinar landing page.  It makes a webinar offer with a promise of a Positive Reinforcing mastery of Facebook for marketing.  Do not under-estimate the power of simplicity.

We’ll use examples from Twitter for two reasons:

Twitter’s 200-character count limit offers an advantage to anyone that understands the fundamentals of powerful headline writing.

Twitter status updates have an incredibly short lifespan. If your update doesn’t trigger an immediate click, it’s usually lost forever.

Mastery of these headline fundamentals will improve much more than your social media marketing. Even though Twitter may not be the powerhouse that it used to be the 200-character limit is powerful for headline writing.

Free Webinar. How to Master Facebook for Marketing.

The Ugly Truth About Headlines in Digital Marketing

Writing better headlines will get more clicks from social media, but that’s just the beginning.  You have to make sure that the clicks are relevant, targeted, and timed right.

Understanding the art and science of compelling headlines is a staple of digital marketing.  It will improve your results in nearly every aspect of your marketing including the following:

Presentation titles

Blog post titles

Book/report titles

Email subject lines

Sales page headlines

In-person sales communications

I could easily go on and on because understanding how to write great headlines is about understanding why people take action. This isn’t one of those things that’s about the mechanics, numbers, or technology.  It’s purely psychological, and understanding it will make you a better marketer who will earn more money.

Why they say “yes”.

And, if you’re in marketing – you are in the business of getting people to say “yes”.  That will be the entirety of your job.

Great headlines usually fall into one of the following categories:

Social Proof (tagalong)

Negative Reinforcing

Positive Reinforcing

We’ll address these one at a time as we navigate this document. This cheat sheet is filled with proven formulas that will get you more clicks from Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and more from all aspects of your digital marketing.

Smart People Use Social Proof (Tagalong) Headlines

Smart people almost always incorporate social proof; the propensity for people to make choices based on the choices that others make.  Have you ever noticed how no one wants to go to a party that no one else is already attending?

The more people making that choice and the more influential those people are, the more influential the social proof.  It’s your job is to be as influential as those possible (without being pushy and salesy) so you can steer traffic in any direction you choose.

Consider these headlines…

Why 1000’s of New Yorkers Will Gather in Bryant Park on February 9th

The New WordPress eCommerce Plugin Everyone is Talking About

How is Oprah Able to Eat Bread Every Day and Still Lose Weight

The 1st and 2nd headlines are common social proof headlines while the 3rd is a Tagalong headline. The headline tagalongs the popularity of Oprah.

Consider this post below containing a tagalong headline…

How Georges Simenon Wrote Hundreds of Novels:

How to Scare People Into Tuning in to You - Just Like the Evening News

Often, people will be more motivated to take action to avoid pain than Positive Reinforcement as a benefit.

Well-crafted negative reinforcing headlines, like the following, incorporates the promise that you’ll be able to protect yourself from a negative consequence if and only if you take action.

Warning: Don’t Buy Another Ounce of Dog Food Until You Read This

The Big Lie Hiding in your Apartment Rental Contract

Is Your Child’s Mattress Harmful to their Health?

Take a look at this post from Jon Morrow.  Those in digital marketing will want to know how to stay in Google’s good graces.

3 SEO Sins That’ll Put You on Google’s Naughty List

How to Create Positive Headlines That Actually Convert

The easiest way to craft a headline is to simply state the benefit and make a promise that, if the person takes action, they will actually receive this benefit.

Give Me 10 Minutes and You’ll Be a Master at Tuning Your Guitar

How to Fix any Car Problem for Less Than $500

If You Can Boil Water You Can Make These 10 Delicious Tapas Recipes


The post below makes a simple promise that you will gain knowledge about getting sign-ups without a marketing budget.


How We Acquired 100K Early Bird Signups with Zero Marketing Budget

Discover 3 Simple Techniques to Improve Your Headlines

You’ve got an understanding of the headline categories and the traffic you are getting from social media will increase exponentially if you apply these principles.

Here are three other ways you can improve your ability to drive traffic and

action from your headlines posts.


1 – Add the words “how to”

Not including these two words is a common mistake and it’s easy to correct. 

Often, I see posts, email subject lines, and other headlines that are statements.   Remember that a good headline or social media post contains a promise that, if you click, will be fulfilled.

In many cases, adding the words “HOW TO” to an existing headline will be a dramatic improvement which can turn a statement into a promise.

One way to improve your click through rate is to communicate some aspect of time in your headlines.

Take a look at the first post below…

For example, here is a fantastic “how-to” post from a start-up software company…

Remove the HOW TO from the and it reads,

Apply the 80/20 Principle to Your Freelance Business [LINK]

This headline doesn’t make a promise, it makes a statement. Add the words HOW TO and you’ve got a promise and a very good headline.


2 – Communicate time

One of the questions people will have when they read your headline is — how long will it take to fulfill the promise in the headline?

How to Apply the 80/20 Principle to Your Freelance Business

Based on this headline, I don’t think this is going to be a quick read.  Using the word HUGE without giving an understanding of the time commitment to complete the reading can easily have the reader think that there’s so much information to consumer that will take a long time to read.

If I don’t have the time, I’m unlikely to click on this link. On the other hand, if I’m looking for a thorough exploration of this subject, I’m going to click and get settled in for a lengthy piece of content.

Notice how different the second post below would communicate the aspect of time,

Twenty Huge Trends That Will Dominate America’s Future [LINK]

A Single, Simple Trend That Will Dominate America’s Future [LINK]

This post gives me the sense that this will be a short, concise piece of content that I can consume in a few minutes.


3 – Add fascination

Adding a layer of fascination to your posts and other headlines can lead to huge increases in engagement.

The key is to tie a Positive Reinforcement or Negative Reinforcement to something that is seemingly unrelated. These headlines make a promise but also tease the reader with curiosity.

Here’s a great example below…

How to Be the MacGyver of the Web: 9 Ways to Boost Your Conversions Rate on Shoestring Budget

This makes a relevant, traditional promise: boost conversion rate on a budget. But the addition of MacGyver to the headline adds a layer of fascination.

Here’s another post that applies the same fascination formula to this post,

3 Lead-Nurturing Lessons We Can Learn From Dating

Here’s a Quick Way to Use the Headline Cheat Sheet

Also, make it a part of your process to copy and paste good headlines into your cheat sheet. You’ll start to build up a headline database full of inspiration for the next time you need a jumpstart writing a social media post, email subject, blog post title, or sales letter headline.

Become a student of great headline formulas and all aspects of your digital marketing, including social media marketing, will greatly improve.

One way to use these headline formulas is to simply copy and paste them verbatim, filling in the blanks to match your industry, company, products and services.

That’s ok if you’re just getting started. But a better and more powerful way is to print them and then study them. Read through each one, pausing to consider why the headline works and how to apply it to your business.

When you do this you will begin to truly synthesize the fundamentals of writing great headlines. If you do this, you will find yourself accessing the cheat sheet less and less for inspiration.

Social Proof Headlines You Can Use Now

How [impressive number] of XXX Got [desired result] in [time period]

Here is a Method That is Helping [world class example] to [blank]


Why I [blank] (And Maybe You Should Too)


[ Savvy|Smart|Sexy] People Do XYZ


Like [world class example] You Can [desired result]


[world class example] Reveals Ways To [desired result]


The [desired result] That [world class example] Is Talking About


World class example = celebrity, recognized, company, brand, or product

Why [impressive number] of People are [taking desired action]


A Simple Way To [desired result] That Works For [desired group/person]


How to [desired result] Like [world class example]


[Do something] like [world-class example]


[desired result] Like A [desired group or person]

Join [impressive number] of Your Peers that [take desired action]


[blank] Hacking With [world class example]



World class example = celebrity, recognized, company, brand, or product

Negative Reinforcing Headlines That You Don’t Want to Sleep On

Do You Recognize the [number] Early Warning Signs of [blank]?


If You Don’t [blank] Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later


I’ve Lied to You for [time period] Now


The Biggest Lie In [your industry]


X Shocking Mistakes Killing Your [blank]


Don’t Try [blank] Without [desired action] First


[blank] May Be Dangerous To [something precious]


[blank] May Be Causing You To Lose Out On [desired result]


At Last, The Secret To [desired result] Is Revealed

The [blank] Risk Hiding In Your [blank]


Why you shouldn’t [do what I desire them to do]


Why [blank] Fails and [blank] Succeeds


Do Not Try Another [blank] Until You [take desired action]


The Ugly Truth About [blank]


What Your [blank] Won’t Tell You And How It Can Save You [blank]


What Everybody Ought to Know About [blank]


Your [blank] Doesn’t Want You To Read This [blank]


The Sooner You Know [blank] The Better

Positive Reinforcing Headlines That You Should Only Use When…

Where [desired result] Is And How To Get It


Discover The [desired result] Secret


[blank] Your Way To A [desired result] You


To People That Want To [desired result] But Can’t Get Started


You, a [desired result]


Stop [undesired result] in [period of time] without [agony and pain]


You Too Can [desired result] in [time period] with [blank]


How To Become [desired result] When You [something challenging]


There’s Big [desired result] In [blank]


You Don’t Have to Be [something challenging] to be [desired result]

How To Build a [blank] You Can Be Proud Of


Get [desired result] Without [undesired result]


Get Rid of [problem] Once and For All


Improve/Increase Your [desired result] In [time period]


Imagine [desired result] And Loving Every Minute Of It


Here’s a Quick Way to [solve a problem]


Get [desired result] Without Losing [blank]


The Lazy [blank’s] Way to [desired result]


How To Make People Line Up And Beg To [blank]


How To Get [desired result] Out Of [blank]

How To Make People Line Up And Beg To [blank]


How To Get [desired result] Out Of [blank]


How To [desired result] When You’re Not [blank]


No [undesired result] Just [desired result] Everyday


The Quickest & Easiest Way To [desired result]


If You Can [blank] You Can [desired result]


How You Can [desired result] Almost Instantly


How To Become [desired result] When You [something challenging]

Never Suffer From [undesired result] APOSITIVE REINFORCING


The Quickest & Easiest Way To [desired result]


If You Can [blank] You Can [desired result]


How You Can [desired result] Almost Instantly


Improve/Increase Your [desired result] In [time period]


How To Use [blank] To [desired result]


How To Turn Your [blank] Into [desired result]


See How Easily You Can [desirable result]


Never Suffer From [undesired result] APOSITIVE REINFORCING


Answered: Your Most Burning Questions About [blank]

Now You Can Have [something desirable] Without [something challenging]

How To Take The Headache Out Of [blank]

X Questions Answered About [blank]

Give Me [short time period] and I’ll Give You [desired result]

Take X minutes to get started with [blank]… you’ll be happy you did!

Who Else Wants [desired result]?

How to fast-track your [desirable result]

How [impressive number] Got [desired result] Without [undesired result]

Little Known Ways to [blank]


How to turn [blank] into [desired result]


How To Build a [blank] You Can Be Proud Of


Get [desired result] Without [undesired result]


Get Rid of [problem] Once and For All


Little Known Ways to [blank]


How to turn [blank] into [desired result]


How To [desired result] When You’re Not [blank]


No [undesired result] Just [desired result] Everyday