Clickbait – What Is It and Should You Be Emulating It?

Clickbait, the use of eye-catching internet headlines to obtain clicks, has become increasingly popular, and you can thank websites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy .

Both websites use clickbait in slightly different ways:

Upworthy uses headlines with phrases such as “you’ll never believe what happens next” or “check out what happens when...” The link usually takes visitors to a video that actually is interesting, thus creating a piece of shareable content that can then go viral on Facebook.

Buzzfeed, on the other hand, relies on lists and GIFs to get their point across. These usually are about silly or mundane things, but they are funny or relatable, so guess what? People share the articles on Facebook.

Should you emulate the Buzzfeed/Upworthy model for your own content?

Not entirely, but there are some lessons to be learned from the use of clickbait that you can, and should, use for your own content:

  • Headlines matter. If your headline isn’t interesting, no one is going to click to read your article, no matter how great the piece may be.

  • Use numbers in headlines. It might not follow AP Style, but people can’t resist reading “7 ways that…” or “9 times that…” style headlines.

  • Shareable content is important. For your content to go viral it must be worthy of sharing with readers, friends and followers.

The key difference is that you still need to craft quality content for people to read once they click through. Otherwise, they won’t continue to read your material, regardless of the headline.

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