The Power of Click Bait

Close-up of female hand with computer mouse. Shallow DOF.

If you believe that click bait is relegated to the lesser news sources that produce false- or questionable stories about the entertainment- and health industries, think again.  Click bait has become a very powerful tool that even some of the leading, and more respected news sources have created.

Why are reputable news producers willing to “stoop to” this level?  The truth is that modern readers enjoy it.  Clickbait has proven to be a highly effective form of making money and building a stronger reader base, whether it is thought to be respectable news or not.  Another big reason why companies are willing to create these ad-riddled pieces is because they are a backdoor around the ad blockers that most Americans have employed on computers and smart devices.

Earlier this year, Forbes published a story on the prospects of the click bait market.  The author of that piece suggested that the more stringent controls put in place by the search engine algorithms (and more specifically, by Google) were meant to slow the oncoming tide of clickbait articles.  Facebook also, DeMers writers, updated its algorithm to prevent the growth of clickbait titles.  Despite all of this, clickbait continues to gain power and that means that an increasing number of brands are trying to find ways to create the titles that encourage more page visits, even if that means creating content of less quality.

Three years ago, marketing gurus were strongly urging brands to stay away from the clickbait formula.  Now, in 2017, despite all of the efforts of Google, Facebook, and others, brands are being told that clickbait works and that they should create more of it, if they hope to achieve notable levels of organic reach.

So, what classifies as clickbait?  The term is not overly well defined, but essentially, it is all about the title and it generally comes in one of the following formats:

  1. Lists Countdowns, DIY step-by-step, ‘the best of’, or ‘the top… of all time’ are just some of the examples commonly seen.
  2. Animal involvement People can’t resist a funny cat meme or a heart-wrenching dog rescue.
  3. New Take on Trending Topic
  4. Shocking Element If you can cause feelings of disgust, alarm, hysterics, or heartbreak in only a few words, you’ve created a great clickbait title.

Should your brand consider this as part of the content creation process?  It all depends on what industry you operate in and who your primary consumer is.  There are some who will greatly appreciate such titles and who will click through regularly.  There are others who will be quick to form a bad opinion of the brand.  If you know your niche well, then you will know whether clickbait holds great power for your company.