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Marketing Mad Libs: The “Next Biggest Tsunami” Headline Generator

Here is some practical advice to get some attention using a simple headline generator. Just start with the following sentence: “The Social Networking tsunami will forever change the way we manage our lives.”

Note to marketers: here is some practical advice to get some attention using a simple headline generator. It works like this; start with the following sentence:

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“The Social Networking tsunami will forever change the way we manage our lives.”

Mad Libs

Now, in “Mad Libs” fashion, replace:

  • social networking with one of the following: ‘mobile’, ‘location-based services’, ‘Internet TV’, ‘online analytics’, ‘behavior-based marketing,’ ‘Facebook,’ ‘Twitter,’ etc.
  • tsunami with one of the following: ‘revolution’, ‘wave’, ‘deluge’, ‘flood’, ‘transformation’, etc.
  • manage our lives with one of the following: ‘interact with people,’ ‘do business,’ ‘make friends,’ etc.

If you’ve read any sort of media lately, online or off, you are sure to have run across this type of headline.

While these headlines will get attention, wait a second … what about a little perspective? In the grand scheme of things, as big as Facebook may seem today, will it really change the way we ‘forever’ do anything? Two hundred years from now, will the introduction of Facebook be seen as a seminal moment in human history? In comparison to the printing press or the telegraph, is Facebook really that important? Maybe, but only time will tell. This is just one example; overall, there are too many ‘historic’ moments happening for all of them to be significant.

The competition for attention in an information-saturated world is driving people to extreme measures. It’s not only news; movies, music, fashion, politics, religion, and other forms of expression are also experiencing an escalation of extremism–all in the name of getting attention. Turn up the volume a notch or two, or nobody will hear you. The net result is that we become increasingly jaded; we are skeptical of what we see, hear, and read. We lose perspective and assign inflated importance to trivial things. An artifact that has begun to define the times is the “mockumentary” an irreverent form of documentary that mocks the self-importance we attribute to trivial matters. For a good example, check out the Flutter video:

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Another popular way to get attention is to quote statistics, even dubious or misleading ones. In fact, a recent informal survey I conducted found that 93% of people were more likely to believe statements backed up by statistics than a statistic-less variation of the same statement. (Note to readers: “informal survey” equals “I just made that up”). Same result as screaming headlines; people believe less of what they see, hear, and read. Desensitization has a profound impact on marketers in terms of how products and services are promoted and sold. I will look at this in my next post.

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About the author

A technology strategist for an enterprise software company in the collaboration and social business space. I am particularly interested in studying how people, organizations, and technology interact, with a focus on why particular technologies are successfully adopted while others fail in their mission. In my 'spare' time, I am pursuing an advanced degree in STS (Science, Technology, and Society), focusing on how social collaboration tools impact our perceptions of being overloaded by information. I am an international scholar for the Society for the History of Technology.

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