Surfing the internet without “accidentally” blowing one of those clickbaits is becoming the next mission impossible in this digital age. There’s just too many news stories, branded articles, videos, podcasts, tweets, Instagram posts and e-mails fighting over our attention, and there’s simply not enough time to go through them all.
So there you were, opening your browser to do some market research and you find yourself checking the “7 Games You Just Can’t Miss at Joker123!”. Surely this isn’t the first time, but you’ve just been Clickbaited.
So What is a Clickbait?
We all know it when we see it, and yet the exact definition is hard to pin down. It’s actually become a bit of a thing that Merriam-Webster officially added the word to its dictionary in 2015, defining it as: “Something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click a hyperlink, especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.” In other words, flashy headlines with empty content.
That is because in most cases, the purpose of clickbait headlines is not to entice you to read a particularly valuable story; it’s simply, to bring in clicks and advertising revenue. Many creators of clickbait content couldn’t care less about the substance of the thing you’re clicking on; their sole job is to get you to click.
Psychology of Clickbaits
Strangely enough, we’re able to recognize a clickbait when it crosses our way and yet we still open it. Such powerful psychology, how does it work? What’s actually going on in our brains that makes clickbait so tempting?
Clickbaits use many linguistic, visual, and emotional mechanisms that target our most fundamental desire of curiosity. So even if we’re in our right state of mind, we still take that quiz to know which kind of bread we are.
This overwhelming prevalence of clickbaits and their shady ethical exploitation raises a very important question in every Marketer’s mind about his strategies.. “What’s more important: Revenue or reputation?”
But why does it have to be one or the other? Check out these:
10 Clickbait Marketing Strategies and How You Can Make the Most Out of Them:
See what we did there?
1- Overuse of Numerals
“15 Reasons You Should Quit Your Job Right Now”. Believing we are getting a lot of stuff in a short amount of time makes the effort of clicking seem worth it. Big & odd number creates further intrigue.
2- Affective and Suspenseful Language
“Man Tried To Hug a Wild Lion, You Won’t Believe What Happened Next”. This kind of suspenseful storytelling technique is simple and effective. It makes us wonder, what could this outcome possibly be that I could never believe?
3- The Cliffhanger
“Things That No One Tells You About Having Kids.” The Cliffhanger is a pattern interruption at it’s finest. It teases just enough that there’s no way you can’t click to see more.
4- Empty or Unresolved Pronouns
“This Is the Only Video You Watch On The Internet Today”. We are lured in by the information gap because we want to know what the unresolved pronoun “this” is referring to.
5- Action Words
“See The $1.5million Kickstarter Everyone Is Talking About”. “See” is a perfect opener to create the aforementioned information gap; alluding to something interesting or irresistible that people can’t afford to miss
6- Reverse Narratives
“Salesmen Claim This Is The Best Car Of 2018. But Is It?” We’re given the crux of the issue; now we want to know the backstory.
7- Incongruent Images with Emotional Load
“7 Things The Pharmaceutical Companies Will Never Tell You.” Imagine this headline with a famous model looking angry. This mismatch works two-fold: First, we’re compelled to correct the mismatch by clicking to find out what the headline and the image have to do with each other, and second, we’re drawn in by the emotional load of the image—why are they so angry? What happened?
“Donald Trump Secretly Told The New York Times What He Thinks About Illegal Immigration”. Newsjacking has been around forever. But you can also use it to unexpectedly ‘bridge the gap’ between your [boring] topic and something people care about deeply that’s top-of-mind.
9- The Hot Topic
“A Black Man Wore Different Kinds Of Clothing To See If People Will Treat Him Differently”. The Hot Topic is similar to the last in that it’s ‘newsworthy’.
“10 ClickBait Marketing Strategies You Can Use Ethically”.. Which gets us into the “ethical” part of clickbaits.
Here are 4 Key Takeaways to Keep In Mind:
- Use Clickbait Tactics to Link to Other Relevant Articles on Your Site
- Use Clickbait Features in Moderation
- Use Clickbait-Style Content Humorously
- Make Sure You Have Variety in Your Content
- Use lists!
Using ClickBaits Effectively and Ethically
If you understand the psychology of the “bait,” you can appreciate how clickbait successfully drives revenue through “clicks.” The best thing to keep in mind is not to overuse these techniques, but even more to actually deliver “value” once the reader clicks on the link. You have more at stake than just collecting clicks.