Clickbait can be witnessed across almost every corner of the internet these days. Social media, news and blog posts all contain links promising to solve your problems ‘with this one weird trick’ that ‘you will not believe’, only to then bombard you with ads on a page that takes forever to load. And it turns out it was actually not that weird or unbelievable or even very interesting at all.

But is clickbait always bad? 

We often get asked by clients to make their content more ‘clickbait-y’. What they most often mean by that is to use headlines that create an irresistible allure to their target audience. As the name implies, clickbait is content that is written to specifically attract as many clicks as possible. 

So what actually is clickbait then?

There is often a misconception about what clickbait actually is. Many view clickbait as something that is misleading, dubious, damaging and even slanderous. But there are others who view it simply as compelling headlines. Whether your content falls into the latter or former category depends on how well you meet expectations when the user clicks the link.

Weighing up the pros and cons

As more and more users become adept at sniffing out a cheeky bit of clickbait, we are questioning whether it is a good or bad tactic for your own brand to participate in. If you are thinking about creating some clickbait content, you need to understand the pros and cons and what it can do for your brand.

The pros:

 

  • More page views
    If page views are your main goal, then clickbait is an excellent way to get them

  • Great potential for shares
    Good/effective clickbait is almost irresistible to share on social networks. However, people won’t share just any ol’ thing, so you need to appeal to specific emotions. The stronger the emotional response, the more likely they are to share the content. Combine a strong emotional appeal with an enticing headline and well-structured content, and you could have your next viral hit on your hands.

  • Increased brand awareness
    If clickbait results in more page views and social shares, it follows that more people will be exposed to your brand as your content spreads across the internet. 

All sounding great, right? Well, there is also a darkside to clickbait and there are several pitfalls that you should bear in mind.

The cons:

 

  • Sensationalism is getting old
    The rest of the web has now caught on to the tactic of baiting audiences with irresistible headlines. Now, everyone is using clickbait to try and exploit the benefits listed above, which has resulted in waning interest among audiences now familiar with the tactics and bored with the results.

  • Misleading clickbait damages brands and trust
    Few things will irritate your audience more than purposefully misleading them. When people click on a piece of content, they expect to be taken to content that aligns with that expectation. If you intentionally deceive them for the sake of a page view, not only are they going to bounce off the page almost immediately but they will most likely view your brand in a bad light as a result. This is what has given clickbait such a bad rep and will likely cause brand damage if you employ these same tactics.

  • Page views aren’t THAT important
    Pageviews and clicks used to be the dominant metric for driving websites up the rankings. But now engagement and audience dwell-time are the defining measurement of content success. If you can get a reader to stay on your page with engaging, high-quality content this will far outweigh the advantages of a high click-through rate alone.  

Does clickbait get your goat or get your vote? 

So – to click, or not to click? That is the question. If you can’t fulfill a promise and your content is nothing more than low-quality mutton dressed as a groundbreakingly interesting lamb, best not. The trick is to write a killer headline and an equally good article.

Credit: Wordstream