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How To Select A Title And Photo For A Mass Audience

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It’s frustrating when you publish a post about an important topic or issue – and ten people read it. The internet is a level-playing field today, where cat videos, articles on serious issues and memes co-exist – where the audience chooses what they want to engage with.

With a barrage of information online, Youth Ki Awaaz tries to cut through the noise and bring citizen voices – your voices – to the fore. Many articles by YKA users have been read by 100,000 people, sometimes even more. How, you ask?

Well, the biggest and best way to get your audience is to connect with them before they click on your post. And once they click, you have to figure out how and why they will share it ahead. That’s where your title, featured image and post-packaging plays a make or break role.

How to frame the best title for your piece:

1. Ask the ‘why’ of your piece
Ask what the piece is ‘really’ about. For instance, this piece about a loud bike stunt at a quiet Assam zoo makes one think: Why was it even allowed in the first place? Putting that in the title will ensure it increases the relatability of the piece.

Similarly, this piece on a writer learning to write with her left hand is actually about the writer conquering a disorder to pursue her love for writing.

Compare these two titles:
After Suffering From A Disorder, How I Learned To Write With My Left Hand
How A Rare Disorder In My Hand Couldn’t Stop Me From Being A Writer

The second title immediately widens the scope of the article and will appeal to anyone who loves writing.

2. Connect your title to news or current affairs wherever possible
Let me illustrate this with an example. YKA user Rustam Kuraishi wrote about the Sohrabuddin encounter after a revealing story by The Caravan in November 2017, about an attempt to bribe Judge Loya who was presiding over the case. This was covered by multiple media outlets, and sparked a large social media conversation as BJP chief Amit Shah was the prime accused.

Now, compare these two titles:
Understanding The Sohrabuddin Murder Case
Understanding The Sohrabuddin Murder Case, Where BJP’s Amit Shah Was The Prime Accused
After The Caravan’s Story On Justice Loya’s Death, A Look Into The Sohrabuddin Murder Case

The second title instantly makes the article more timely and urgent, and has potential to reach a wider audience due to existing interest in the subject.

3. Add adjectives and other specifics where possible
Ask yourself: How will this article make anyone feel? Feel free to define this emotion by adding an adjective, but don’t overdo it. Overselling an article (“This Horrific Film” when the film may not really be horrific) is not going to work with an audience that can easily call the bluff (or clickbait).

Add other specifics such as names of locations and quotes to make your article connect with more people. For instance, if you’re writing about a small village or town, mention the name of the village (“In Maharashtra’s Pimpri…” or “In a small railway colony in Assam…”), especially since these are areas mainstream media largely ignores. If your article is in first person or mentions an incident or experience you have been through, do mention that in the title.

4. Keep the title snappy and cut out the wordiness
Imagine that your reader has 3-5 seconds to judge the article basis the title. If the title is winding and wordy, you are cutting your audience size right there. Stay to the point, and try and wrap the title up in 75 characters or less (including spaces).

How to select or create the best featured image for your piece:

1. Ensure it complements the title, without repeating it
The simplest way to think of this is: Depict the title of your article, or the emotion behind the title using a photo. If the title and the piece are about heavy rain in a particular state, show the ‘heavy rain’. If the title has visual cues in it, such as ‘sari’ or ‘umbrella’ or the name of a celebrity, make sure that is reflected in the photo.

2. Don’t use dull and very generic photos
Know that the audience will first see the image of your piece on social media, and then the title. Dull or very generic photos will make the audience think the piece is “yet another piece” on the same topic, and make them scroll past. Try and use arresting colours as much as possible, as well as creative ways of making your image stand out.

3. Other tips
Use strong, front-facing photos for more impact and resonance with your audience. Don’t use a lot of text on your photo. And don’t spell everything out in your title and photo – trust your audience to know better!

Here are some examples of good featured images:

Go ahead and publish a post using these tips. Tweet to me @lipi_meh if this helped you. I’d also love to hear suggestions and questions.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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