How to Tell if You’re Guilty of Clickbait

By James Reichert

Click·bait noun: (on the Internet) content, especially that of a sensational or provocative nature, whose main purpose is to attract attention and draw visitors to a particular web page. (Source)

Clickbait is a traffic-driving tactic that has been around since the late 1800’s when newspaper writers would use yellow journalism to boost circulation numbers and ultimately sales. Flash forward hundreds of years and this is still a widespread tactic used by popular online news sites and brands as a way to boost site visits, a modern day term for circulation.

There is a fine line between a post that entices users to click and a post that is straight up clickbait; knowing the difference between the two makes all the difference in the world. Facebook even went as far as tweaking their Newsfeed algorithm to negatively impact posts they deemed as clickbait. They define social media clickbait as being, “A link with a headline that encourages people to click to see more, without telling them much information about what they will see.” Let’s take a look at two examples and see if you can tell the difference between the two.

Example 1: NFL

If you answered clickbait you are correct! The NFL is so much of a repeat offender that their audience now comments providing the context of the article they are hinting at and including the simple phrase, “Saved you a click.” Will an article like this drive traffic? Sure, but continuing to share content like this has proven to annoy much of their audience to the point of driving fans to try to foil their plans.

Example 2: Extra Space Storage 

Extra Space is a Likeable client.

Extra Space is a Likeable client.

Does this post from Extra Space clearly outline what will be discussed in the blog post? Why yes, it does. This post is not considered clickbait since it does a good job of letting the audience know what they would be reading once they click over to the site. 

After reviewing these two examples you may be asking yourself, "How do I stay away from creating clickbait?" Ensure that the content within the post clearly outlines what the user will be reading if they click through to the site. Giving them no option but to click through for basic information is clearly categorized as clickbait.

In your opinion, which brands are the biggest offenders of creating clickbait?  Do you have any tips for driving traffic without using clickbait?