Buzzfeed often creates headlines that compel us to click on them. Have a look at these headlines from the last few weeks on the site:

A Mountain Biker Had A Seven-Week-Long Erection After Injuring His Penis

The Couple Who Asked The Internet To Name Their Daughter May Be Regretting It About Now

There Is An App Which Will Quit Your Job For You

15 Whimsically Surreal GIFs To Get Lost In

Stunning Ice Sculptures Grow In The Coldest Weather

What Does Your Favorite Breakfast Food Say About You?

We feel compelled to click the link and discover why mountain biking is related to penis injuries. We really want to know what the daughter has been named. WHICH app will quit my job?  Why are the GIF’s surreal or the ice sculptures stunning? And how is my personality related to breakfast foods?

Compelling headlines grab our attention. Numbers in headlines pique our curiosity. Strange multiples of numbers are more attractive to us than ‘normal’ numbers. A title containing the number 11 titles with 5, 10 or even 15.

We want to discover what the extra number gives us (or, in the case of 9 whimsically surreal items, what the missing item might be).

Superlatives are also useful. The use of ‘best, worst, most, least, awesome, dreadful, surreal, stunning, favourite, hated etc.’ will get more clicks than titles and subtitles that are missing these words.

Clever body text is important too

Use of the right compelling phrases within the body text will also determine whether success eludes you. Researchers Tanushree Mitra and Eric Gilbert at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta looked at the way that pitches for kickstarter funding.

The team looked at a list of 45,815 Kickstarter projects, scraped the data and found that some phrases really helped to get funding. These are the top 14 phrases likely to receive funds:


The phrases least likely to receive funding are:


Images are screenshots from the paper Phrases that Predict Success on Kickstarter

The phrase “even a dollar” throws up some interesting options according to the paper. It appears in the dataset where projects were not funded.

The visualization shows that the most likely phrases are even a dollar short, even a dollar will, even a dollar can, perhaps be perceived as “grovelling for money”.

On the positive side, the phrase “pledgers will receive” and variations on this theme appear most often in projects that are successful in receiving enough money to complete their kickstarter project.

The team also noted that forward looking phrases were more likely to be successful at getting funding than non forward looking phrases.

We like to think we will get something in returns for our pledge, we want to think that the object we covert is rare, exclusive, special, one-off or time limited offer.

People asking for funding just need to tap into that desire…

PS – 6 was not the number of attention grabbing words – it was just a better number than 10 Smile

Image: By Tkgd2007 (Made by myself in Illustrator) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.