What is clickbait?
Clickbait is any content that’s written to attract as many clicks as possible. Often it takes the form of a catchy headline and image, linked to content that’s easy to read and heavy on images or video. One of the main aims of clickbait is to encourage readers to share it on social media.
Clickbait has been around longer than you might think. For as long as they’ve existed, tabloids and newspapers have been using similar tactics to get people to buy their papers. Enticing or scandalous headlines that stop just short of telling the whole story are a sure way to increase sales, especially if they involve something bizarre and fascinating.
In the digital age, a similar tactic is linkbaiting. This is like clickbaiting but with the goal is to get other sites and articles to feature your link.
What’s the difference between good and bad clickbait?
There is such a thing as good clickbait. The idea is to intrigue but not to trick. Write a tantalising headline but make sure it’s backed up with quality, interesting content.
Getting people to click on your article is only step one. The ultimate goal is to get them to convert – that is, to take a desired action, like buying from your business, sharing your content on social media or signing up for a newsletter.
Spoiler alert: it is a microphone
Bad clickbait is the opposite. Its goal is only to get you to click a link. Once there, the content is usually disappointing or some sort of advertisement or scam. In a bid to improve user experience, Facebook penalises bad or obvious clickbait articles.
Examples of good clickbait
BuzzFeed is considered the champ of clickbait, with about 63% of all their headlines being classified this way (despite their protestations). Nonetheless, BuzzFeed is a popular and interesting news site, with articles that frequently get shared on social media platforms.
Here are some examples of good clickbait headlines and articles that are likely to result in positive sharing and conversions, rather than penalties and a bad rep:
This article is basically about the results of a survey but they wouldn’t get many clicks if they called it “Results of Our Survey.” Instead, they’ve got with a catchy but not misleading title and an evocative image.
The article is relatable and funny and even the image is a hook. If you want to know what that sign says, you’ll have to click on the link. It’s not the kind of article that leads to conversions but anyone who relates could potentially share it on social media which is pretty much everyone with coworkers.
This one might be aimed at a specific niche but pretty much every freelancer will want to click on this article. Especially because it lists not only the pitfalls but also the solutions. All freelancers and entrepreneurs know to expect problems but seldom know how to tackle them. This article delivers on its headline’s promise.
The headline does tell most of the story but the way it’s phrased does make it seem like the dams are quite a bit fuller than 50%. It’s only 50.3% but the headline doesn’t lie, it just entices. The image of the full dam also helps.