Tag Archives: London

How to Write awesome headlines (so people read your stuff)

Tom Whitwell knows a lot about headlines, since he’s Assistant Editor, online, for The Times. This are notes from his talk at Social Media Camp ’08.

A newspaper headline trumpeting Frank's guilt.
Image via Wikipedia
  • If you’re using Gmail, you should start thinking about SEO-ing your subjects, so you’ll actually find something in 10-years time.
  • For first hundred years of newspapers, they were really rubbish at selling stories
  • 1967: Headlines finally get clever
  • Internet: suddenly headlines start to go different
  • Times internet: lots of data points to figure out what works
  • The clearest example of “good headlines” is the Drudge Report
  • The difference of headlines is not 5% but 5x or even 20x
  • What makes people click? It’s working out what the story is, what your reader will respond to, and how to squeeze all the goodness into 68 characters

Rules of thumb:

Old headline
Image by joe_reach via Flickr
  • Be specific
  • The the whole story in the headline
  • Don’t try to be clever
  • Don’t try to be funny
  • Play to your niche. Don’t over simplify or patronize in the headline

Quick wins:

  • Lists = force you to do research and explain your points properly
  • Quotes = Often the most interesting bit in the story
  • Numbers = Often the most interesting bit in the story
  • Names = Most likely who the story is about
  • Don’t worry about “being boring”
  • Write the headline first. Really. Always.
  • Great story which you can’t explain in the headline = crap story
  • Spend a lot of time on headline. Remember: 20x the traffic.


Funny Ham & I headline: YOBS PICTURED ROBBING 104-YEAR-OLD
Image by gruntzooki via Flickr
  • Do you do split tests? It’s quite tricky in practice, so only in limited amount.
  • Do you seed your stories on Digg? Not really.
  • How much traffic do you get from Digg? Big Digg – over 100k visits. Fark sends you about 30k.
  • How much traffic you get from Drudge report? It will send you about 50k visits.
  • Do you automatically promote stories? No, not yet. We look at it manually and go to news desk as we see stories get picked up.
  • Is there a difference between headline that you want someone to read vs. to respond to? We’re focusing for the purpose for this talk on how to get people to click.
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SemanticCamp London, 16-17th 2008

Source: WikipediaI am going to present the colours of Zemanta this weekend at SemanticCamp in London. Besides showing the latest secret technology we are developing I am also hoping that we can have some interesting debates about usability aspects of the whole thing.

5 Web events in London worth visiting


One of the perks of living in such a big city as London are all the interesting events a Web developer/entrepreneur can easily visit. Even if you do not live there, it is still worth timing your visit so you can visit them.

MiniBar occurs monthly where a number of startups pitch their ideas to the visiting public, with general theme towards Web entrepreneurs. Every presenting company gets asked the hardest question: how do you make money?

Event is free, but registration is required at their homepage. 

Wiki Wednesdays are also monthly event, this time, as you might have guessed, oriented towards people who use and are passionate about Wiki’s. Even though a lot of participants are involved with Wikipedia, there is also a lot of buzz around usage of wikis in corporations and in other projects.
Event is free, but registration is required in their wiki, that can be found through their portal.

London OpenCoffee Meetup, is a weekly event for anyone more interested in entrepreneurial side of Online and Web business. There are all kinds of visitors there, from VC’s to developers or just people who are interested in breaking into this field or looking for someone to help them. Drinking coffee on top of Waterstones, Londons biggest book store and chatting with like minded people is also a great way to start a Thursday morning.
Event is free, with no registration required. They also have a homepage and a general page of OpenCoffee Club movement.

Dorkbot London is a monthly meeting of people who do interesting things with electricity, but more precisely electronic. It involves artists, engineers, designers and just about everyone who is passionate about all things electric.
Event is free, but sometimes registration is required, so check their dorkbot wiki.

Mashup* event is a monthly, a bit more commercially oriented event where startups once again present their creations to interested public. Since it is not free, there is a bit smaller crowd there so it might be easier to actually discuss your big idea.
Entry is 35£, with required registration at the event homepage.

Berlin Web2.0 Expo and some FOWA, London reflections

imageOne of the great things of working in a web startup, that might be one day high profile, is ability to go to different conferences. Following the footsteps of last months Future of Web Applications in London, next week brings our team to Berlin Web 2.0 Expo. The Conference format seems quite different from FOWA, since they mix keynotes speeches over the course of whole week and have much more parallel tracks since it is much bigger conference.

The other thing is that “hip” conferences nowadays seem to come with their own social network that somehow helps you being in touch with other conference attendees. While FOWA rolled out their own mini social network, Web 2.0 Berlin uses CrowdVine, a white-label social network, similar to Ning. For now it seems that it is full of conversations between a small number of people, but maybe it will liven up by the time the conference is in full swing.

What I’m wondering is, how useful is such social network, given that conference wireless rarely works well, with a few 100 active laptops on a single access point. While social scientist in me can see the need/wish of everyone to get better networked I don’t think “social” web is ready yet.

The other possible outcome that comes to mind is that with OpenSocial alliance we won’t be joining new social network next year but just adding web2expoberling widget that will help connect all the people across different platforms and plot (public) conversations and buzzing on a Google Maps mashup that will be projected on one of the big screens at the conference.