What makes you click?

You’ll never guess what a new study on headlines reveals!

The When

For those moments where you have found yourself aimlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed. Checking messages, responding to comments, avoiding that one weird friend request, liking photos, scrolling past advertisements, scrolling past long irrelevant posts.


A headline stops you in your scroll and you become somewhat intrigued.

The Who

Whoever is behind this article has just promised to give you something in return as a gesture of gratitude for stopping. Maybe they swore they knew you so well they could identify an unknown quality or trait that you possess. Or could it be that they have promised to provide an answer to a problem you were unaware that you even had? But this gesture was not without stipulation. Only if you continue engaging with them will you retrieve your reward. All it takes is a simple click.

The Why

It is within human nature to be intrigued by such ambiguous promises. No matter how absurd they may be, there is a need within us to satisfy curiosity. A recent study conducted by Buzzsumo concluded that the curiosity gap is wide open. Academic George Lowenstein developed the “Information Gap Theory of Curiosity,” that stated, “Curiosity is a state that occurs when people can identify a gap between what they currently know and what they would like to know. Curiosity triggered by information gaps related to a person’s competence is particularly strong and information gaps of all kinds prompt people to take action.”

Information Gap Theory of Curiosity

So what does this mean for you and so many others like you that decided to venture out, take the dive and click the link?

It means these headlines are doing their jobs. Listicles and trigrams are amongst the more popular things you will see at any given time while scrolling through your news feed.

“Will make you,” “This is why,” “Can we guess,”

The Where

Popular Facebook headlines such as these provoke a reaction from readers. Furthermore, it assures them that they will receive something beneficial out of it. The Buzzsumo study noted that the term “Will make you” not only drives twice as much traffic as any other trigram, but also is the highest rated in social engagement.

One thing to note is that all of these top rated phrases do not mention work of any sort. You must remember where your reader is and what they are doing. The average peak time on Facebook is between the hours of 1pm-4pm however typical work hours span from 9am-5pm. What this most likely means is that people are sneaking off to check their Facebook feeds during business hours. What this infers is that they probably do not want to be reminded that they are at work. As a result, phrases such as “Control of your,” “Your own business,” and“Work for you,” have fallen to the bottom of the engagement list.

The How

If you’ve ever had the desire to be on the other side of the screen, the article behind the click, here is what you need to remember.

  1. Phrases with the word “you” do well because it automatically personalizes and initiates a relationship between you and the reader.
  2. Success lies in the ability to invoke emotion within your readers. (Listicles like “Are freaking out” are in the list of top phrases).
  3. Presenting the chance for readers to leave your article having learned a life hack performs well.
  4. The term “You’ll never guess” is highly dated and should not be used (It is nowhere on the top clicked phrases list).
  5. Each platform requires different phrasing in order to appeal to the correct audience.


One headline does not fit all stories. Throwing these phrases on posts that actually do not give readers something in return will only end poorly. So the next time you’re stopped in you’re scroll, pause to think exactly why you decided to click and read it.