This blog post won’t teach you this one weird trick. Nor will it restore your faith in humanity. What it will do, however, is explain what a clickbait exactly is and why we’re oh-so-happy that Facebook is doing something about it.
Promising a hilarious or mind-blowing experience using hyperbole and superlatives, clickbait titles invoke curiosity, so that the reader will click on the article. What they also invoke, however, is a lot of annoyance — especially after finding out that the title of the article is highly overpromising. But why do we still click on them, even when we know we are being tricked?
This suggests that strongly negative or strongly positive news tend to be more attractive to Internet users
In research entitled “Breaking the News: First Impressions Matter on Online News” (2015), two researchers looked at almost 70.000 headlines from four major global media corporations (The New York Times, BBC, Reuters, and Dailymail) during a minimum of eight consecutive months in 2014. They found “… that for all news sources, an extreme sentiment score obtained the largest mean popularity. Particularly, for both BBC and Daily Mail, the extreme negative and the extreme positive values were associated with the most popular news articles. This suggests that strongly negative or strongly positive news tend to be more attractive to Internet users.”
The trick is common in clickbait headlines — but that might come to an end soon. This week, Facebook outlined its strategy in the battle against clickbait. “People tell us they don’t like stories that are misleading, sensational or spammy. That includes clickbait headlines that are designed to get attention and lure visitors into clicking on a link.” reads the blog post. “We are making three updates […] so that people will see even fewer clickbait stories in their feeds, and more of the stories they find authentic”.
We cannot support this new update enough. As a content marketing agency, we not only find these kinds of over-promising/under-delivering headlines annoying, but also disappointing. Where has the fine art of writing gone?
With that in mind, here are some tips for creating a good caption or headline:
- Understand who you’re writing for
- Capture the content of the article in the caption/headline
- Write several and read them out loud to test them
- Be creative: if you can write a punny/wacky/weird caption/headline, do it
- Step away, we repeat, STEP AWAY from using clickbait
Basically, there’s no good reason for using clickbait and there are numerous other ways to get people to click on your articles — it’s a skill we’ve learned to master. We would never use the cheap trick of clickbait, except for today. Today we did. Our apologies. (No really, our apologies!)
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