“You won’t believe what happened to the guy that wrote this…”
Sound familiar? Clickbait may seem harmless at first glance but it’s certainly not fun – and could very well prove damaging for writers of quality content.
Even if the terminology is foreign to you, you’ll probably still be able to smell clickbait a mile off. Every once in a while you will be scrolling through your Social Networks and see a headline that seems just a touch too sensational to be true. Clickbait is essentially a form of advertising that relies on driving up readers’ curiosity in order to pull them to your website. Like the Kitten chasing the rudimentary piece of string, eventually you’ll find yourself lured into a carrier and taken to the vets.
Often they are disingenuous and rely on leaving out information – and what they leave in manipulates the user into thinking that the link promises something it doesn’t.
A few terrible examples…
If you’re still not clear what we are referring to, we’ve compiled a few of our favourite clickbait titles. And don’t worry – just incase they are so amazing that you want to click on them, we’ve included what they linked to.
“Life Insurance Companies Hate This!” – An article advertising a little-known online price comparison website. It isn’t clarified which life insurance companies hate the article – we can only guess its the ones that have a big problem with poor grammar.
“How Older Women are Losing Weight” – A website that isn’t Women’s Health claiming to be Women’s Health, featuring a bunch of poorly photoshopped before and after photos, many of them women in their twenties, followed by some scientific jargon and a special offer for diet pills.
“1 Weird Habit That Will Solve Your Money Problems” – Lots of flashing numbers, a video of some rather annoying people and a download now button. (We didn’t click the download button.)
Alongside these inherently spammy examples sites like Buzzfeed and various news providers have mave clickbaiting into an artform. The reason? They want to generate page views in order to generate ad revenue.
Why does it matter?
Aside from the fact that it can be really quite annoying, clickbait is damaging to content writers who write genuinely interesting, share-worthy articles. The reason for this is that as users become more savvy and begin avoiding forms of clickbait altogether, the more likely they are to ignore something that could genuinely prove useful.
What’s happening about it?
Facebook is now actively penalising ads that are seen to be forms of Clickbait. Over the course of the past year, a bit of an anti-clickbait movement has evolved to try and combat it. Users like @SavedYouAClick are calling out poor forms of baiting on Twitter.
Isn’t this article essentially a form of clickbait?
Yes. Technically, this article could be viewed as a form of clickbait – but that is exactly the point. There are good sources for clickbaiting and awful sources for clickbaiting. Really it falls on the consumer to be savvy about what they are searching for and try not to be drawn in by sensationalism.