Ever since someone had the “smart” idea of using clickbait in articles, it’s pretty much taken the internet by storm.
It seems wherever you go online, websites are using clickbait to try and get more clicks on their content. That’s fair enough, these websites are allowed to try new tactics to get more clicks but does clickbait really work? Or is there are darker side to clickbait that everyone seems to be ignoring. Can it be doing more harm than good?
We thought we’d research this issue and find out exactly how clickbait affects things such as click through rates and readership. The results are in, and they may shock you!
Why Clickbait in the First Place?
Before we start looking at the effects of clickbait, it’s probably best to explain what clickbait is.
To put it simply, clickbait is a type of headline that is designed to attraction attention and encourages visitors to click on the link. Most clickbait headlines and titles will usually have an eye-catching picture or thumbnail to increase the chances of you clicking even more.
If you’re wondering why websites use clickbait in the first place then here’s the deal:
Clickbait titles are designed to grab the reader’s attention with a question which is then answered by reading the article. This creates value for a lot of readers. If you’re right, you’re rewarded with a smug sense of satisfaction, and if you’re wrong you can always trick your friends on Facebook!
This might be a good thing for the content publishers as it increases their click through rate, but do the readers like clickbait?
Clickbait works wonders for websites, but readers are growing sick and tired of it. In fact, there are websites and social media users that are dedicated to stopping clickbait. So why do readers hate clickbait so much? And how is clickbait damaging content marketing and its reputation? Here are some top reasons.
You Disappoint Your Audience
The first way in which clickbait affects readers is it leads them down a dark rabbit hole with very disappointing results. “You’ll never guess what happens next” is a common phrase a lot of clickbait websites use.
Users are enticed into clicking the link as they want to verify their answer by reading the article. The result? A lacking sense of disappointment when they find out the whole article has nothing to do with the headline. The publishers don’t really care though; they got their click and statistic which is all they care about.
Not only does this disappoint the user and annoy them, but it also makes them lose a little trust. This brings us nicely onto our second point.
Other Content and Articles Get Ignored
Let’s face it; people don’t like to be fooled. Not only does it make them feel stupid but it also leaves them feeling angry and annoyed. When users click on clickbait articles they want an answer to the title. Some articles will give you the answer, while many won’t.
If your friend told you to go to the cinema to watch an exciting film and you didn’t enjoy it, would you take their recommendations again? Maybe, but after a while you wouldn’t trust them anymore. The same thing applies to clickbait titles.
The first couple of times you might be lured in by the catchy headlines that make you click. However, once you read the article and are left disappointed, the chances of you clicking another clickbait title decreases. Over time it gets to the point where you completely stop clicking any clickbait titles and purposely avoid them.
This is pretty much the complete opposite effect that clickbait titles are meant to have. They are supposed to increase your clickthrough rate and engagement, right? Well think again, if you over do it then you’ll actually decrease the number of visitors to your site. As you can see, it’s not the best long term strategy for traffic.
Complaints and Potential Legal Issues
Ever since online marketing has taken over the internet, there have been several laws introduced on how companies can advertise. You need to promote a product or service in a responsible way as required by law. If you’re using clickbait titles, this could be classed as exaggeration or lies by many authorities depending on what you say.
If enough people complain about misleading titles and headlines, then the chances are the authorities will investigate you. This can lead to severe penalties or even your website being shut down.
Lying to get clicks is not cool. Not only do you ruin your reputation and become another “clickbait site” but you also face some serious consequences.
Loss of Social Media Followers
If you use too many clickbait titles on your website, only bad things will happen. Instead of being known as a reputable website that posts great content you’ll simply be referred to as another clickbait site. This can do terrible things to your online following and presence. In fact, people can get so annoyed with websites constantly posting clickbait titles that they stop following you.
Is it really worth it to risk getting a few extra clicks and views when you could lose a lot of followers? In the long term definitely not. Proper headlines and content always perform better than any social media clickbait websites.
So Is Clickbait Really an Issue?
Considering the amount of online websites that use clickbait you could say we are in a clickbait epidemic. Many websites are willing to trade their reputation and brand image in order to get a few more clicks on their website. Little do they know the long term damage clickbait will actually have on them.
The biggest problem about clickbait is the fact that it causes readers to lose trust and respect for your website and brand. What might seem like a good idea to get more clicks can actually have the complete opposite effect.
Eventually people will get fed up of clicking clickbait titles, but for now it seems clickbait is here to stay.
If you need someone to take control of your social media campaigns and manage them properly, then be sure to contact us to see how we can help.