Why Everyone Hates Bad Titles (and How You Can do Better)

When a potential viewer chances upon a video online, one of the first things they’ll see is the title. Whether it’s part of the share copy or overlaid on the preview image, your video’s title is a key part of its allure. In busy feeds, a catchy title can make the difference between someone hitting play or scrolling on. So what can you do to make your titles stand out and nab those views?

Make it informative

Would-be viewers need to know what your video is about, so tell them! A title shouldn’t tell the whole story, but it should make the subject and thrust of your video clear.

Make sure the expectations you’re setting with your title are accurate. Viewers don’t like to be led astray, and you wouldn’t want your brand to be associated with misleading content!

Use bold language to intrigue viewers

To reel in the views, you need to do more to catch your viewer’s attention. Use bold language to pique the interest of viewers. Strong, positive adjectives like “brilliant” or “incredible” naturally intrigue people. So can strong, negative words and phrases like “dreadful,” “awful,” or “Why Everyone Hates [X]”

Using bold language suggests that there’s something really outstanding and special about your story, which will make people want to watch. Also try playful word tricks, like alliteration or rhyming. Either can make for a fun title, if that suits your subject, and the novelty will appeal to viewers.

Use call-to-action words and phrases

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Your title can do more than just tell viewers about your video, it can also prompt them to watch if you choose relevant phrases for the content within.

If your video is offering insight or tips, you might use phrases like “Learn to…” or “How to…” If the piece is offering, for example, recap of news or an event, a phrase like “Catch up on…” could be effective.

These are just a few examples, but there are a myriad of possibilities. Even a simple “Must Watch” followed by some description can be motivating to viewers.

Be creative with numbers

Every day brings lots of “5” and “10” videos to social feeds. But our research shows that breaking out of that multiples-of-5 mold is more effective.

On Facebook, videos using “7 Things” in the title are especially effective. Such videos average nearly 90,000 views, while the next closest “5” or “10” title format averages only around 60,000.

This speaks to the next thing to keep in mind…

Be original

There a lot of common title templates out there. “Top 10 [X],” “Need to Know…,” “…of the Week/Year,” just to name a few. Titles suggesting that there’s something viewers should know are especially popular. Our analysis of 33,000 videos in 2017, however, shows that popularity of titles amongst publishers did not necessarily lead to more views.

In fact, we’ve found just the opposite to be true. For “In the Know” type titles, average views fall considerably below the average of all videos (between 15% and 70% less, depending on the specific phrasing).

This is just one common format, but it’s telling of the importance to give your videos creative titles. Break from the molds that are everywhere on social. It will help your piece stand out as something unique to potential viewers, instead of just appearing as another in a long line of similar pieces.

Length matters less than you think (on Facebook)

In our research throughout 2017, we studied the length of video titles on Facebook. We found that there is essentially no correlation between length of a title and the success of a video.

Title lengths of 7-8 words are the most common, but length varies widely, from 1 to 15 words. The data suggests that any impact title length has on Facebook views is minimal, but that viewers may favor longer titles.

Don’t forget, good titles are crucial to your SEO

As a final tip, remember that bold titles are necessary to draw in viewers, but they’re also also critical in informing search bots and algorithms about your video. Descriptiveness in a title is a key way search bots will know to return your video to relevant potential viewers.

That may tempt you to overload on keywords, to show up in as many searches as possible. But a string of keywords makes for an ineffective, confusing title when a person sees it. And search engines these days are also smart enough to catch onto that trick, and start filtering you out.

The big takeaway is that taking the time to craft a good title is always worth it! Creative and novel titles grab the attention of potential viewers and help your video stand out in busy social feeds.

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