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The World Cup Battle: Huffington Post vs.CNN

The world witnessed a great fight on Friday, December 6 – the battle of the headlines. In case you missed it, the 32 teams competing in the upcoming World Cup drew their Group Stage opponents. And Huffington Post & CNN wanted to be the first to tell you the results:

Which headline would you click on?

In the fight for your click (or finger swipe), Huffington Post undoubtedly takes the cake (if you are going for open rates). If you can’t tell by simply reading it, here’s an in-depth look at why:

1. Let There Be Blood

Negativity is a positive when it comes to headlines. It’s just simply more interesting. Studies show that social media posts using dark words and negative forms of a noun or verb are actually more engaging. Huffington’s use of “Death” draws the reader in & emphasizes USA’s stiff competition.

2. Don’t Sell the Steak, Sell the Sizzle

Engage as many senses as possible when writing headlines to employ the reader’s imagination.  CNN’s headline is merely descriptive, leaving nothing to the mind of the reader. However, with “death” the U.S. suddenly becomes a coliseum-enclosed Russell Crowe in The Gladiator (well, that’s what I pictured). You pick the movie.

 3. Keep it Simple, Stupid

Huffington uses half the number of words & characters than CNN. In layman’s terms that means half the brainpower. It’s great that CNN can summarize a 500-word article in just one sentence (many people can’t), but now there is no reason for people to continue reading.

 4. Punctuation

Periods, commas and exclamation marks all act as full-stops to the reader, impeding their flow from continuing on to the full article. CNN uses 4 punctuation marks. Huffington Post, a whopping 0. You do the math.

5. The Fans

This is the most important one of all – the target audience. Who is going to read an article about the World Cup? Soccer fans. These fans are competitive, animated and probably take the phrase “break a leg” very literally. Huffington’s headline appeals to this audience with its touch of violence, CNN not so much.


Which headline is more compelling to you? Let us know by tweeting us @methodsavvy


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