Should Your Post be About Mistakes or Learnings – Using Negation in Titles

This post is inspired by a discussion I had with one of my advisors. Some of my blog posts are worded to maximize attention. In a world where information is endless and interruptions are frequent it’s very hard for your blog post to raise above the noise.

Using negative words to get attentionNegative blog post titles increase clicks and shares. At the same time it reduces confidence in you and your product.

In social media, blog titles with negative context get more attention, more shares and more clicks. Here is a post by Iris Shoor supporting that. Let’s say we wrote a post about Apple’s recent change to the ranking algorithm in the App Store. The title could be one of these two:

  • Clash of Clans benefits from Apple’s algo change
  • Apple’s algo change kills Candy Crush Saga
There is not doubt that the second title will generate more attention. People like to see blood, we like accidents, violance, corruption – if you are not sure – open your local newspaper and see the headlines.

Advertising is about building confidence

Well, that’s all true but unlike a newspaper, a company blog is not just about getting clicks and shares. It’s actually a marketing tool and the rules for that are a bit different. It’s very hard to imagine an advertising campaign that uses negative words – it’s just a bad way to market something. The reason is that we want our audience to feel confident enough to take action, make a decision, join the community, download our code – we want them to feel comfortable doing that. Seth Godin wrote it well in a recent post – The most important question. Whenever you are using negation, you are reducing confidence – so it’s best to use it carefully.
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