Did NewsWhip Just Come Up With A Guaranteed Pageview Booster?

We’re delighted to launch the latest addition to the NewsWhip suite of tools for journalists on the social web – the Clickbait Headline Generator. You know the type of headline – the ones that ask a question to which you simply know the answer is no, but you just can’t resist clicking. It’s a tried and tested pageview booster for slow news days, and what’s more, it’s free! Try generating a few story ideas yourself and see how they go down on Twitter.

Much has been made of the death of the traditional newspaper headline, supposedly at the hands of SEO. In a 2006 article for the New York Times, Steve Lohr wrote that “the search-engine ‘bots’ that crawl the Web are increasingly influential…” In 2013, it’s social media that’s increasingly driving huge amounts of traffic to websites, and headline-writers have had to train themselves in the ways of SMO (Social Media Optimisation).

SMO involves carefully crafting an article’s headline to incentivise the reader to click – often by instilling a sense of mystery, thus helping the story’s chances of going viral. It’s one of the cornerstones of social-focused sites like BuzzFeed and UpWorthy’s success. These headlines even have their own law – ‘Betteridge’s Law of Headlines‘ – which says that “Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”

It’s partly an SMO tool and, sometimes, an excuse for journalists to push out content of uncertain veracity. With the news that the supposed Twitter spam account @horse_ebooks was an art project all along, we present our headline generator with the promise that not only is it definitely a robot, it’s also guaranteed not to be an art project. Now to the important questions – like ‘is George H.W. Bush instagramming your children?’, and ‘is Justin Bieber responsible for the behavior of the NSA?’ Enjoy.

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