Getting content in front of readers today is more of a challenge than ever before: The Internet is oversaturated, attention spans are shorter, and demands for quality, engaging content keep growing. And clickbait seems to be everywhere, even on traditional news outlets.
Clickbait is best defined as an article that doesn’t deliver on its curiosity-inducing headline or photo. The headline (usually something along the lines of: “You’ll never guess what happens next!”) typically plays on readers’ emotions to encourage them to click—hence the name “clickbait.”
Some of the advantages of clickbait may help explain why it’s so prevalent online.
- It can help generate ad revenue. Websites with high numbers of clicks or pageviews allow brands to drive up the cost of advertising. However, many sites are now moving away from banner ads in favor of monetizing content quality, not audience quantity.
- Increased pageviews can spotlight other content. Sites such as Buzzfeed and Upworthy draw readers’ attention with catchy headlines and fun topics, but also publish serious news stories that get the same amount of attention.
Using clickbait comes with several disadvantages.
- People may click, but they don’t read. According to data from Chartbeat, fewer than 60 percent of users on average read more than half of an article. And Peyman Nilforoush, CEO and co-founder of inPowered, says that one third of readers who click on promoted content tend to leave before 15 seconds.
- Clickbait can damage your brand’s reputation. Consistently publishing articles with headlines that dupe or manipulate your audience can lead to an overall lack of trust, which may damage your brand’s reputation.
Clickbait isn’t the only way to grab readers’ attention.
- Focus on metrics other than clicks and pageviews. By shaping your content plan around success metrics such as shares and time spent on a page, you’ll find that quality, engaging content with headlines to match will lead to better engagement and a higher level of trust from your audience.
- Inject creativity elsewhere. The latest trend in online content publishing is grabbing readers’ attention in a less obvious spot: the page slug or web address. Article headlines don’t have to be the same as the corresponding URL, which opens the doors to creative and funny links.
How do you feel about clickbait?
Want to learn more about content marketing? Try one of these posts:
What is Content Marketing?
How to Choose a Content Marketing Partner
Connect with Millennials Through Content Marketing
Lexicon is an award-winning firm in Des Moines, Iowa, that specializes in content marketing.