Are you ruining your law firm’s social media by writing terrible titles? 3 tips

Posted on 05-19-2014 by
Tags: How-Tos & Guidance , social media , writing

 Flush your content down the toilet if you’re writing terrible titles. Without a good title, your readers won’t budge beyond the search page. The “information foragers”, as Jakob Nielsen calls them, will abandon you out of boredom.

Your “information scent” begins with your title. Good titles make your readers salivate and starved for your content. To craft a better title and reel in your readers, master these 3 tips:

#1. Smother your clever voice

Clever is crap, at least for a title. Clever titles sound clever and creative only to you. To your reader, they lack clarity and context.

Here’s a “clever” title I wrote 2 ½ years ago:

“If Salvador Dali Painted Trademark Cases, His Muse Might Be Mattresses and Space Constellations.”

Huh? In my head, it sounded wily and witty, but in reality, I muddied the subject and fogged my readers. A pointed title would have boosted the engagement.

Get to the point. Be clear and direct. Arm your title with a strong hook. Clever for the sake of cleverness wastes your time and weakens the information scent.

#2. Trash borrowed titles

Rewrite borrowed titles 99% of the time (i.e., when you share curated content in your social feeds).  If you copy a title verbatim, you’ll infect your title with the first author’s unoriginality and drabness. Or you’ll cater to the first author’s audience, not your audience. 

For example, I curated and shared the following story from NPR:

“Stopping Link Rot: Aiming To End a Virtual Epidemic”

A good title, but to resonate with my legal audience, this rewrite was required:

“Will rotting links lead to the rotting of legal precedent?”

Rewrites are my default.  Too often, curated content, while well written, brings the baggage of either a bad or a misdirected title. Title diligence is nonexistent across social media so force yourself to be a diligent title writer.

#3. Incorporate (but beware of) good tips 

Good tips can jump start your titles. Some of my favorites:

  • #1 on my  list, add numbers to your titles;
  • grip your reader with active verbs;
  • land your listener with alliteration;
  • questions beg to be answered, don’t they?

Tips empower title writing, but beware: they can also kill creativity. If your formula is to add “Top 10” without thinking, you’ll neglect planning in favor of simplicity.  For instance, the following title adopts the number tip:

“Top 5 legal problems for lawyers using social media”

“Top 5” alone won’t boost this tired title. A better strategy is to highlight the important topic (depending on your audience) and add an active verb.

“Top 5 social media hazards that can threaten your legal ethics”*

Strategize when you write titles. Good tips are great, but tips alone will only make weak titles less weak.

*This revised title has the 5th most engagement of my last 1,000 LinkedIn posts.  


Posted on : 10 Sep 2015 2:59 PM

Very interesting and helpful post. Title for a piece of writing is like a face for a human. Terrible titles are not attractive for the perspective reader. At you can find tips about titles for academic articles as it is one of the most difficult type of writing as all you moves are bound by numerous restrictions of this genre

Posted on : 14 Sep 2015 10:49 AM

Here is a link from Hubspot that tells you how you can draft a good title for you article. Do have a look:

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