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Clickbait – Why We All Feel The Need To Click


ClickbaitWe’ve all been there at one time or another – scrolling through our Facebook or Twitter feed, only to stumble upon a clever headline that you just have to click.

You check out the link to have a quick look and whilst the first point seems to be what you’re looking for, you realise as you scan the complete article that it’s an absolute waste of your time.

Welcome to the world of clickbait!

What is Clickbait?

Clickbait (aka link bait) is the term used to describe a type of hyperlink on a web page that lures a visitor to click to continue reading the article. More often than not – these links then forward the user to a page that requires registration, or is one of a series of pages to help drive page views for the site. The issue people have with clickbait is that it is often a catchy headline that entices the user to click, but is often linked to a web page that has nothing to do with the title, for example:

Non Clickbait link

Computer keyboard shortcut keys

Clickbait headline (for the same link)

Why using shortcut keys can save your business thousands of dollars per month
Ashton Kutcher’s favourite keyboard shortcuts
Keyboard shortcuts that will make you look like the office tech whizz

Why We All Feel The Need To Click

Studies by a Norwegian Business School suggest that for content creators to get users curious about their content they have to make the most of their headline. This means asking questions that reference the reader.

They tested different kinds of headlines:

  • Declarative e.g. The hunt for status in the advertising business
  • Question e.g.  Why are advertisers so obsessed with winning prices?
  • Simple headlines such as Power corrupts, and
  • Self referencing e.g. Is your boss intoxicated by power?

The results showed an average of 150% more clicks for the question headline and 175% more clicks for the headlines that used the second person.

So the reason we can’t help click on a link (even though we know the headline is just clickbait) is that it’s a headline that stimulates your curiosity – usually through a question or self-referencing comment (or a combination of both).

In spite of all the hype, clickbait really isn’t anything new – in fact, it dates back to the late 1800s when newspapers were looking to increase their circulation figures. Inclusions of comic strips and catchy headlines began to entice a larger number of readers but people quickly became up in arms about journalism being tainted by this method of trying to inflate circulation.

Fast forward to 2014 and you’ll find the same applies to media companies who care about page views. Clickbait is nothing new – technology and the increasing amount of content online does seem to have made it more widespread as everyone looks for ways to get more people reading their content.

At the end of the day, whether your business uses clickbait methods is entirely up to you. Our advice when your business posts online is to make sure your headline links to accurately described content. If you make it a rule to post quality content – then you’ll be doing the right thing by your target audience and site visitors every time.

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