“Clickbait” is a term that is used to describe link titles and headlines that attempt to “lure” the reader in. More often than not, the title of a clickbait link will provide the reader with little-to-no information about the type of content that the article contains.
Basic example: “This homeless man picked up a harmonica. What happens next will bring tears to your eyes!”
As you can see, this vague title attempts to lure the reader in. Instead of summing up what actually happens, this title beckons the user to click on the link so that they can find out. So, instead of using a title that accurately portrays the content, they’ve decided to use a title that intentionally obscures the content.
Over the past year or so, the term has become more and more popular, especially in relation to social networking websites such as Facebook. If you’re a regular Facebook user, then you probably come across these annoying clickbait posts on a daily basis.
Why do websites use clickbait titles?
The answer is pretty simple: Money. More clicks = more page views = more money from advertisements. The entertainment websites that use clickbait as a tool do so with the intention of maximizing their page views. They’re not trying to fill you with wonder for the sake of it. They just want you to view their page so that they can make more money.
Who uses clickbait?
The websites that utilise this cheap and annoying method of marketing should be named and shamed. Their beloved brand names should be mentioned whenever this topic is brought up. Whenever the representatives of these websites speak in public, they should be questioned about the crap that they flood their titles with.
Here are some clickbait examples from Buzzfeed, which is one of the worst offenders:
- “This Is What Happens When You Send Tinder Guys Carrie’s Questions From Sex And The City.” What happens? I need to know now!
- “This Is What It’s Like To Watch ‘Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1’ For The First Time.”
- “This Little Girl Saw Santa Eating Alone And Decided Something Had To Be Done.” OMG, what did she do? I just have to find out!
Note how these titles implore you to click on them. Note how they provide very little information about the actual result. Note how f*cking obnoxious and annoying they are.
Some examples of clickbait from The Huffington Post:
- “Bill Cosby Tweets, ‘Go Ahead, Meme Me,’ And It Completely Backfires.”
- “Do NOT try this at home!”
- “Ellen Found Some Seriously Strange Children’s Toys, And We Can’t Stop Laughing!”
OMG, I’m on the edge of my seat here. I MUST click on those links so that I can find out more!
I’m just kidding, I think I’ll pass out of principle. You absolute knobs.
Examples of other websites that actively use clickbait titles:
- The Lad Bible.
On a daily basis, the websites above engage in a race to the bottom of the barrel. They have shown that they are more interested in page views than the respect of their readers. Simply put: These are the unscrupulous whor*es of Facebook.
What can I do?
To fight back against clickbait posts on Facebook, you should actively use the “I Don’t Like This” option on any post title that attempts to obscure its content. If more and more people use this option, the websites that utilise this method of “marketing” will see their Facebook engagements drop. This will lead to a drop in reach, which will have a negative impact on pageviews. If enough people use this option on clickbait links, then the websites that employ this tactic will quickly get the point.
See also: Rage bait.