Clickbait is a type of digital content, such as social media posts or news articles, that uses attention-grabbing headlines to drive clicks and traffic. It gets a bad reputation for misleading readers using bait-and-switch headlines. However, quality clickbait captures readers’ attention with headlines while delivering relevant content. When used correctly, clickbait can increase brand visibility.
Good clickbait is powerful, but it’s not easy to create. What’s more, bad clickbait can quickly damage a brand and waste a lot of time. Don’t put your reputation on the line. Instead, use a professional content marketing service such as Ignite Digital to help create quality clickbait. Their team can build quality content that gets clicks and shares, building a strong reputation for your brand. Get your free quote today.
How Clickbait Works
Clickbait is focused on creating buzzworthy headlines and content that pique people’s interest or tap into innate passions, fears, or other emotions. This entices them to click on the content, revealing information about your brand or products. To create your own clickbait successfully, start by familiarizing yourself with existing viral content in your industry. Then, determine your target audience’s pain points and interests. Finally, create your relevant clickbait content.
First, research current viral content in your industry by browsing popular social channels and websites that specialize in content related to your business. Look for patterns in the types of content and note which are the most popular and receive the most engagement. Notice how they tend to play on natural human fears and motivators with teasers such as: “You won’t believe … ,” “Don’t miss out on … ,” and “The things nobody tells you about … .”
With these clickbait-style headlines in mind, consider your target audience’s interests and pain points. Compile information on their primary motivators and challenges specifically related to your business area. You can do this by sending out surveys, reviewing online studies, and asking customers directly. Next, choose a corresponding topic; create a headline that directly addresses a target audience’s fear, pain point, or motivation; and write content to match.
Once you have created your clickbait content, distribute it over the internet. To get it in front of your target audience, distribute it where they spend the most time, including social media platforms, websites, forums, and app-based communities. Track the click-throughs and impressions of your content to see how it performs. Successful clickbait will not only get lots of readers but will also enjoy plenty of engagement, building brand awareness.
When to Use Clickbait & When to Avoid It
There are a time and a place for clickbait, and it’s not something most will want to use all the time. If you do, you may be flagged by readers as a business that produces unnecessarily sensational content, which can erode your brand reputation. Instead, use it to help meet specific marketing goals such as to gain site traffic, to share a message, and as a viral marketing strategy. Don’t use it directly for sales or when your information is inaccurate.
When to Use Clickbait
Here’s when to use clickbait:
- When you want to increase site traffic: Engaging clickbait can increase site traffic. For the most part, clickbait content is created so that it does not seem like adverting, which helps increase the likelihood of clicks through to articles and posts on your site. Occasionally, brand names will be included, but only if they fit naturally or can be included without seeming overtly advertorial.
- When you’re looking to share a message: Marketing doesn’t always have to promote a brand. It can also promote an industry or a mission. For example, a health food store may not directly promote itself, but it may use clickbait to promote healthy eating with an article such as “7 Deadly Things You Didn’t Know You’re Eating” or “Add 10 Years to Your Life With the Right Vitamins.” By promoting a business-related cause, this type of clickbait can increase interest in a brand.
- When you want to try viral marketing: In the best-case scenario, clickbait doesn’t just get many clicks—it gets so many clicks and shares it goes viral or secures an unusually high number of clicks and shares in a short period of time. Viral marketing is a powerful and free form of marketing that can reach millions of people.
When to Avoid Clickbait
Here’s when to avoid clickbait:
- When you can’t deliver on your headline: The challenge of creating good clickbait is creating content that aligns with your headline. If you can’t provide content that delivers on your headline, avoid it altogether.
- When your goal is to drive sales directly: Clickbait is meant to be fun and entertaining, not a sales pitch. If you’re looking to drive direct sales, consider paid ads instead, such as Facebook advertising.
- When your content is inaccurate or false: Sensational headlines and content are often shocking or surprising, but never make the mistake of using a false headline simply to get clicks. Search engines such as Google flag this type of “fake news” and decrease the ranking of sites that they believe distribute inaccurate content.
There are three primary reasons to use clickbait: to gain site traffic through clicks and content that is easily distributed via shares, share a message in a lighthearted way, or go viral. However, always avoid clickbait that is false, misleading, or overtly advertorial.
“The best-use case for clickbait is to understand what content your audience wants and to boil it down into something that’s almost instantly digestible. Breaking it down into lists, using emotional adjectives, and even calls to action right in the headline, such as ‘10 Inspiring E-books to Download Today’ are all well-known ‘click-baity’ practices that are great for pulling in traffic. As long as your material is honest, your audience will not be disappointed.”
—Julia Grosvenor, Creative Content Manager, Data Science Dojo
Effects of Good Clickbait vs Bad Clickbait
In general, clickbait has specific characteristics that qualify it as good or bad. Good clickbait not only drives clicks but also gets more readers and can even lead to content going viral. This is mostly because the content is honest and not advertorial. Bad clickbait is viewed as deceptive, due to either false or misleading information, which can harm your brand image and even your search engine optimization (SEO).
Effects of Good Clickbait
Here are the top effects of good clickbait:
- Increase clicks and readership: The point of clickbait is to drive clicks—that’s why it’s called clickbait. If you create quality clickbait, your catchy headline will be backed by quality, relevant content that people want to talk about and share.
- Potential to help SEO: Only quality clickbait has the potential to boost SEO. This is because quality clickbait gets more clicks and keeps people lingering on an article or post longer, which are two factors involved in the Google algorithms that determine a site’s search ranking.
- Potential to go viral: The best clickbait gets so many views and shares that it goes viral. Viral marketing is a huge win because it reaches a massive amount of people and generally costs very little. It’s also a common goal of creating and distributing clickbait content.
Effects of Bad Clickbait
Here are the top effects of bad clickbait:
- Can be viewed as deceptive: A lot of clickbait manages to use a title that lures you in but fails to provide content related to the title. This bait-and-switch form of clickbait content makes people feel duped and is seen as a deceptive marketing tactic. This, in turn, hurts your brand reputation.
- Can harm SEO: When a user finds themselves viewing irrelevant content after clicking a catchy headline, they exit the page quickly. A very short time on page and high bounce rates, which occurs when visitors leave a page without viewing other content on a site, are harmful to SEO. Search engines consider these factors as detrimental to your site’s search ranking.
- Can damage brand: Businesses that produce bad clickbait risk damaging their brand. People will think less of a deceptive business, eroding customer trust and loyalty. Ultimately, this results in a loss of sales.
Clickbait can be a beneficial tool for gaining attention and potentially going viral. Meanwhile, bad clickbait not only damages a business’s reputation and search ranking but also decreases trust in a company, which leads to a loss in sales. To create good clickbait, you must ensure that you are using it in moderation and creating high-quality content that meets readers’ expectations.
“Clickbait plays on human desire, emotion, and curiosity to draw readers in. To reach the target audience effectively and get your content shared, you need to ensure that the clickbait is leading the audience to worthwhile content that satisfies the desires that led them to click on your content in the first place.”
—Joe Bailey, Business Development Consultant, MyTrading Skills
10 Examples of High-quality Clickbait
A terrific way to get a better understanding of what good clickbait is and to get ideas for your own content is to look at prominent clickbait examples. To help, we found 10 high-quality clickbait examples from across several different platforms. These examples not only showcase a direct tie-in to reader pain points but helpful, authentic content that keeps site visitors reading.
Here are 10 good clickbait examples.
Why it works: This headline sensationalizes the subject of this article by playing on people’s fear of missing out. It asks the question, “… why is everyone talking about her?”, which makes people wonder if they’ve missed important news about Caroline. To be sure they are in the know, readers eagerly click through to read all about her.
Why it works: If even Mark Wahlberg is doing it, then we should be too. This clickbait title plays on our love of celebrities and our desire to do what they do. Part of what makes it interesting is that it also plays up societal trends and interests—something people love to follow. The content promotes the booming cannabidiol (CBD) business while getting starry-eyed fans excited about Wahlberg’s participation in the industry.
Why it works: This Facebook ad is simple and straightforward yet packs a punch with an in-your-face pain point. It makes the promise of offering a solution to a common problem (lead calling), but only if the user clicks the ad.
Note: Facebook has recently begun banning clickbait content, so be careful what you post.
Why it works: Many diet ads claim to be “easy,” but offering a way for lazy people to lose weight is a new—and appealing—proposition. While the word “easy” is overused, and people are desensitized to it, a word like “lazy” grabs readers’ attention. What’s more, it appeals to people’s desire to be thinner without investing the energy or time in a traditional diet.
Why it works: This article, “7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Buying My First House,” was posted on Pinterest and originally published on Forbes. It does a good job of igniting soon-to-be-homebuyers’ fears that there’s something they don’t know. Real estate is a significant investment—especially for a first-time homebuyer—so it effectively draws clicks from people who are looking to buy their first home without hassles or hiccups.
Why it works: Most of us want to do things right, which is why this YouTube video has drawn in more than 13 million viewers—all of them interested in finding out what they’ve been doing wrong. While this engaging headline is enough to draw people in, there’s also a great deal of curiosity involved too. After all, there are many things we can be doing wrong—what types of things might this video be focusing on?
Why it works: This BuzzFeed quiz plays on our competitive nature. It sounds like a quiz readers might pass—believing themselves to be as smart or smarter than 30% of Americans. This draws in clicks from those eager to prove their intelligence. BuzzFeed chose the pass rate wisely as a quiz with only a 10% pass rate would appear too hard for most readers while a quiz with a 40% or 50% pass rate wouldn’t be compelling enough to click on.
Why it works: Sounds a little too good to be true, and yet it undeniably piques a reader’s interest. Why? People are drawn to the idea of free or easy money, and how dreamy does it sound to get paid to move—especially to a lust-worthy location? This, combined with the awe-inspiring skyline, encourages clicks from those eager to learn more.
Why it works: This clickbait example taps two interests: a desire to make our lives better—especially when all that is required is reading a handful of quotes—and a nostalgic love of Bob Ross. While this example of clickbait is not created by a business, it is created to drive a readership to the website Mental Floss, on which the article is posted.
Why it works: The Inc article, “A Stunning New Harvard Study Will Change Everything You’ve Ever Been Told About Negotiation,” leverages the respected name of Harvard and dramatic new information to draw clicks. The article could have been more titled something like, “New Study Discovers the Best Negotiation Styles,” but this wouldn’t play on our admiration for Harvard or our desire to have the most up-to-date information.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What’s the difference between clickbait and linkbait?
The goal of clickbait is to get clicks and views while the goal of linkbait is to get others to link to your content. Clickbait content increases traffic and exposure while linkbait helps improve SEO. While they are similar concepts, they have different use cases and audiences.
What is clickbait on Facebook?
Clickbait on Facebook is any content, organic, or paid, that taps into people’s emotions or struggles to encourage clicks. However, Facebook has recently banned clickbait as the platform has experienced a scourge of deceptive clickbait practices. Learn more about Facebook Advertising.
Is Buzzfeed a clickbait platform?
BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith CEO has stated that clickbait is banned on BuzzFeed. However, the platform defines clickbait as deceptive, bait-and-switch content. As clickbait has evolved from poor quality content to content of higher quality, most would agree that the majority of BuzzFeed’s content is indeed good clickbait; it uses eye-catching and sensationalized headlines with well-aligned copy to encourage clicks and shares.
What is clickbait news?
Clickbait news is a form of content that uses catchy, often shocking news-focused titles that are misleading or inaccurate to generate clicks. For example, news published with the headline “A New Federal Law May Eliminate Speed Limits” would be considered clickbait news.
What’s the easiest way to create a clickbait thumbnail?
If you aren’t a graphic designer, then the easiest way to create a clickbait thumbnail that not only looks good but fits the image specs for the platform you’re using it on is with Fiverr. There are dozens of graphic design pros on Fiverr available to create your clickbait thumbnail for as little as $5.
Bottom Line: What Is Clickbait?
Clickbait can be a useful marketing tool that generates clicks and promotes shares when used correctly. Good clickbait requires the use of lighthearted and entertaining content with eye-catching titles to match. Businesses looking to create content in a fun way with the potential to go viral should try clickbait, but only in moderation.
Avoid the risk of creating bad clickbait that damages customer trust and ruins your company’s reputation. Instead, trust content marketing pros such as those at Ignite Digital to create the best, most effective clickbait. It knows how to create buzzworthy content that gets clicks and shared. Get your free quote today.