We’ve all been there: scrolling through our social media feed, we see an article with the headline “You won’t believe what happened to this couple…” or “TRUMP DID IT AGAIN, his craziest statement yet!”, or our favorite vlogger releases a new video titled “Big Announcement!! We’re so Excited!!”. 99.9% of the times, the actual content left us deflated and underfed.
Yes, it’s clickbait. Just as fish are attracted to a cute-colored bait or moving worm, we find it hard to resist clicking on these enticing headlines, as part of our social media routine. Unfortunately, more clickbait in our news feed means there’s less space for content that actually matters. Facebook knows this and recently announced they’re implementing a new system to detect clickbait-like posts and reduce their appearance on users’ news feed.
What makes clickbait so popular?
It’s simple: curiosity! We experience this when we channel-surf without anything in mind and end up watching a random program in a foreign channel, or when we fall down the well known Wikipedia k-hole. Maybe we’re waiting in line in our lunch break, or just relaxing at home, phone in hand, an article pops up and we click it, tempted by the headline.
Many sites live and thrive on offering clickbait, which makes it harder for genuine content to be seen by our target audiences. What’s worse, some marketers might feel tempted to copy these sites, only focusing on getting more visits to their brands’ sites and higher SEO ranks. However, the end result will be cheap content that will be ineffective in the long run, generate the wrong type of conversations and lead to poor sales and lack of loyalty.
How can marketers stop from falling into this trap?
Creating and spreading shareable content, such as blog posts, are the most important duties within content marketing. However, this doesn’t mean we must rely on cheap tricks to get our audience’s attention and get easy, empty shares. Below, we share some tips to generate good content, no bait needed:
Don’t Deceive the Audience: Deceit is a cardinal sin in marketing. Maybe playing with it in a headline sounds less dangerous than blatant false advertising, but it plants the seed of distrust in your audience, and they may turn away in the long term. Setting the wrong expectations or omitting crucial information are examples of deceitful headlines.
Thou shalt not steal: Pablo Picasso once said “Good artists copy, but great artists steal”, but blatantly using other people’s posts for your own clickbait purposes isn’t well received. Know how to separate between curating other people’s content, and sharing it with proper credit, and coping ad litteram other people’s Reddit post because of writer’s block.
Substance over style: Fun pictures and bullet points can’t make up for terribly written content. Fun content doesn’t have to be cheesy, just as educational content doesn’t have to be bland. Take time to build content that’s worth sharing, and engagement will rise in the long term.
On Facebook’s press release about their strategy on clickbait, they referred to a guide on their Best Practices section, on how to attract audiences without the use of clickbait. It can serve as a guide for content writers to generate better headlines and witness good arguments against the use of digital bait.
With millions upon millions of new content being shared every day, marketers work hard to ensure theirs isn’t lost in the noise and reaches its intended audience. Even though taking shortcuts with clickbait might seem like the easy way into our audience’s feeds, it reduces the brand’s credibility and ends up having the opposite effect of what we intended. There are much better ways to catch our target’s attention and gain their trust.
Tell us in the comments, do you agree with Facebook’s attack on clickbait?