At a time when practices of web content creation go through successive phases of differentiation, depending on the trends that arise, the tactics of scandalous and “catchy” titles, commonly known as “clickbait” has never been abandoned. Although the general vibe is that the public is now tired of this tactic, the truth is that human psychology is prone to manipulation and all the author wants of an article is to activate the reader’s curiosity so that they click on the link, increasing the impressions.
There is a whole school of thought behind the creation of clickbait titles in articles, advertisements, videos and all kinds of content on the internet, and one can distinguish some common methods and practices:
- Abstract language without precise definitions or information: a title such as “The only travel destination you should visit at least once in your lifetime” is a sophisticated way to be generic, vague and excessive on purpose. Since the original hypothesis where the claim is based on is subjective and it cannon be verified.
- Imperative and singular tense: the attempt to create intimacy and enough motivation for someone to act are two different practices that are often combined in the same title. For example: “Discover now the truth about the future of your love life.”
- Numbers for every topic: “10 Hot Secrets of Hollywood Stars.”. Rings a bell? There are entire sites and editorial groups that churn out this type of content like a factory. In this case, the goal is usually the quantity – we may not know 50 ways to cook sushi, but somehow, we will invent them, for the purposes of our article!
- Shocking or sensual imagery: sex, violence and terror, distorted or exaggerated facial features, the use of celebrity images without a reasonable connection, can be used in conjunction with a “catchy” title, to multiply the chances of clicking. This is a scourge, especially in the thumbnails of YouTube videos…
Regardless of these basic practices, someone can distinguish between different kinds of authors, depending on their end goal: on the one hand we have the author who is not interested in the logical consistency between the title and the content. In this case, the former has absolutely nothing to do with the latter. On the other hand, we have the author who wants to attract the attention of the public in an intelligent way, and he sincerely wants to lead readers to quality content that is worthwhile and – most importantly – values their time.
The opportunistic and frivolous tactic of luring the readers to distract them and gain a quick click is not so smart after all. On the contrary, it may provoke a negative message and anger, and in some cases it can lead people to such a point that they want to report the user on the content platform, something that may have unpleasant consequences, such as restrictions or even termination of our account on a particular social media platform.
The mentality that permeates our communication team can be ascertained by the way we adopt such frivolous opportunistic practices. After all, a customer who wants to protect the prestige of his brand, probably would not want to link it to such practices, because more importantly he prefers the return on his investment, to the communication services we offer, to the creation of trust between their brand and the public, the proliferation of loyal followers in the channels of our corporate social media, people who will buy our customer’s products and services.
The bitter truth is that, at a time when search and ranking algorithms force us to modify our SEO tactics, we don’t have the luxury of not employing witty and catchy titles at the beginning of each communication. Hence, the issue lies in what way we will incorporate these practices in a positive and “ethical” light, so that:
- Lead our readers to content that is 100% relevant to what the title promises.
- Have a sense of measure and restrain when using CAPITAL LETTERS, BOLD AND PUNCTUATION MARKS!!!!
- Try to introduce as much humor and good taste as possible in our texts and in the whole presentation of our messages. Here, we must employ a good team consisting of editorial and creative members that work well together.
- Offer substantial and useful content and not “spam” our readers, chasing views, or else we can’t have loyal followers who will come back again and again.
One final tip is to know the nature of our audience and to adjust the tone, variety and frequency of our communications accordingly, for our new content pieces, in order to maximize the impact on our target group. We need to learn and develop our judgement, where and when a more intimate approach is appropriate, e.g. on a blog, a social media post or a newsletter, or whether we should be more formal and precise when addressing professionals and business partners, and we want to promote prestigious content, such as a research, a scientific paper or a case study.
Do you wonder how you can develop a communication plan with imaginative and intelligent features, but not to the extent that your audience will become tired? We will be glad to discuss it with you, and formulate a strategy that will leverage the proper practices, to increase your visibility and augment your customer base!