Imagine that you are on vacation in an exciting new locale and looking for a place to cool off for a bit. A large, bold sign in the window of a local bar catches your eye: “You won’t believe how refreshing this new beer is!” You’re tired of walking and the idea of trying something new intrigues you, so you pop in to see what it is. Disappointingly, the “new” beer is just a lite version of something you have already tried many times before. The sign in the window oversold the product. This is similar to what clickbait does.
What is Clickbait?
Like the misleading sign in the bar’s window, clickbait is a headline, social media post, or image that oversells something. It promises more than what you will find at the other end of the link can deliver. Clickbait is often characterized with phrases like “what happened next will shock you” or “you won’t believe this”. The intent is to “bait” you into clicking onto the link provided.
Why Do Publishers Use Clickbait?
Web traffic is currency online. More “clicks” equals increased traffic to a website. This traffic can translate into higher advertising revenue or possibly sales of a product or service. The internet is a very, very busy place, and it can be hard to get your message or product in front of the eyes of a larger audience. Some publishers use clickbait as a means to draw more traffic to their site, but there are drawbacks.
What is it Bad?
Think about how you felt in our bar scenario. You were probably disappointed with the pub, and maybe did not even want to stay there for long. The negative first impression might keep you from ever stopping there again. Similarly, clickbait hurts the credibility of your site. When readers feel misled, they might decide that your site is not a reliable source for information. If you continue to use clickbait you will lose reader’s trust over time. Clickbait might bring readers in once, but it will not help build a loyal following.
Invest in your audience and build a long-term relationship with them. You can do this by delivering content that is accurate and engaging. Duping readers with clickbait is a bad way to start that relationship, and a good way to lose your credibility.
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