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What Is Clickbait? and why you need to know

Ever heard the term ‘clickbait’ and wondered what it was?

It’s when a headline or subject line is written in a slightly misleading or ambiguous way with the sole purpose of persuading the reader to open the piece.

When you do open it, you find that the content is actually nothing at all like the headline suggests!

An example of a 'Clickbait' headline...

“When you read these 19 shocking food facts, you'll never want to eat again”

We’ve all seen them and this morning in the news, this headline jumped out at me...

"Johnny Vegas 'walks out' of ITV This Morning interview 'crying' as Josie Gibson 'so sorry' for remark"

I think you'll agree, it piques your interest for reasons of curiosity.

But when you read the article, Vegas actually left the set crying with laughter, which has a totally different connotation than the headline suggests.

Social platforms, in particular Facebook have been clamping down on this for the last few years.

Similar headlines were all over and as a platform, Facebook realised it was actually giving their users a bad experience.

There’s actually lots of psychology behind clickbait and what makes us compelled to click including our low tolerance for ambiguity and the need to know.

But then there is a cognitive effect as the article leaves us unfulfilled as clickbait feels like an unfinished task in our brain.

We create LOTS of content for our clients...

  • Blogs

  • Newsletters

  • Email marketing

  • and of course social media content

and there is a real difference between clickbait and a compelling headline.

A compelling headline

A compelling headline maybe something like this, which is a fairly safe.

"7 MUST DO things when you Visit Cleethorpes This Summer"

Now that sparks curiosity!

It sparks interest for the reader and as long as you do actually give 7 great things to do, you have fulfilled your obligation in the title.


"Try This Cheeky Trick On Instagram To Get More Engagement"

A little riskier, as your article MUST have a cheeky trick, or you will leave your readers feeling duped and potentially hostile to the brand behind the article.

Clickbait on LinkedIn

Finally, you will see clickbait all the time on LinkedIn.

The old trick of posting one line to hook you in then tab down four or five times, so the rest of the content isn't visible unless you click 'see more'.

So next time you respond to a headline, pay attention to what hooked you in.

  • What compelled you to open the article?

  • What compelled you to click and scroll?

  • And was it worth it?

And next time you write anything… consider the effect the title will have, in comparison to the content, for your reader.

Will it leave them feeling you have given them something of value or duped them into reading?

It may have an effect on whether they bother to click to read your content in the future.


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