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Clickbait - Will you Actually Catch What you Want?

We’ve all fallen into the e-trap that is clickbait. Not only is it human nature to act on something that catches our attention, but no one really loses anything by clicking through to an article they don’t really care about other than time. Unless it’s a virus. But we’ll just assume you haven’t fallen for that trap before (don’t worry, we’re not judging you… honest).

However, just because the reader doesn’t lose anything, it doesn’t mean the publisher necessarily gains anything, in which case what was the point in pulling someone in with false hope? Unless you’re purely trying to gain clicks because as soon as they open your site you earn some sort of ad revenue, it’s probably going to be a pointless exercise. In this blog post we’ll have a quick look at some of the worst examples of clickbait, why internet users hate it, and if you really have to use it, how to use it cleverly.

Where did it all begin?

You can blame journalism for the creation of clickbait. Although they may not have directly created it (it may not have been a journalist who first used a clickbait title for an article), since the beginning they’ve religiously followed the golden rule that all titles must grab the reader straight away.

The easiest way to do this? Well with a good story you can pretty much just describe what has happened in one short sentence and the chances are the reader will be intrigued and search for the rest of the story. Without a good story, challenging the reader was always the route to take. Phrases like “You won’t believe” and “You’ve never seen *something* like this”.

When online journalism’s popularity snowballed into what it is today, the practice of it only became more and more common, with the titles becoming more and more clever as our ability to track and monitor the performance of clickbait increases.

You Won’t Believe How Bad These Clickbait Titles Are! OMG!

As we mentioned before, some clickbait can actually tempt you into clicking it. On the other hand, some can make you burst out laughing. Does this seem familiar?

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 16.30.50

We’ve all seen it a million times, chuckled, and continued with our day. I can confirm it doesn’t really work. If you clicked it too, shame on you. But the ‘make money from home’ garbage isn’t the only disgustingly spammy title we’ve seen. Here are a few others that we’re really not sure if we love for the comedic aspect, or hate because they’re annoying.

Why do we sigh every time we hear the dreaded word?

There are entire Twitter accounts dedicated to calling out websites using clickbait headlines. There’s even a Twitter account, saved you a click, that finds out the answer to whichever intriguing question their title asks and quote retweets the link to the article with that answer. So why is there so much negativity towards these poor publishers desperately trying to increase traffic to their page?

Disappointment seems to be the most common issue people face with this practice. If a headline tells you you’ll have your mind blown, you expect it to blown at least the tiniest bit. If someone is scrolling through Facebook and clicks on an article with a clickbait title the chances are they are bored, and the last thing the want is to be misled into looking at something that isn’t what it promises to be.

But I want more traffic, what can I do?

Well, good content will always shout about itself, but we understand that you’re never guaranteed a tonne of shares just because you’ve created something awesome. This is where clever clickbait comes in to its own. What exactly is clever clickbait you may wonder? It’s simple. You appeal to natural human instincts like curiosity but without promising to reveal 10 child celebrities who haven’t aged well.

Lists are a great way to do this. For some reason, we humans just cannot get enough of a list. Let’s say for example you own a hotel, you could create a post titled ‘5 Things We All Do In A Hotel Room’. Buzzfeed are the experts when it comes to lists, you can use them for your clickbait-spiration. Is that a word? It’s 2016, probably.

Generally, you shouldn’t get too much abuse for casting your line out there with a nice juicy, intriguing headline, as long as the content is equally as interesting. Keep it relevant to what you’re doing and try not to exaggerate too much and you’ll be fine – but don’t be afraid to play around with a more far-fetched title and see how it pans out. 

All publicity is good publicity, after all.