A war on clickbait and why we should focus on engagement

Written by Kirsty Bamford


engagement

We live in a time where we’re surrounded by news, wherever we go, and so as media consumers we have become more ‘picky’ over what we decide to read. After all, we’re all very busy and have limited time to spend scrolling news feeds.

AS MARKETERS, THERE ARE TWO THINGS WE WANT TO ACHIEVE ONLINE

1 – have people click to read our stories
2 – have people engage with our stories

But here lies the problem – some people are valuing click rates over engagement which is leading to the increase of sensationalised clickbait.

Clickbait (in its simplest term) is to use misleading and often inaccurate titles to try and entice the reader to click and read an article. The consequence of this then leaves the audience disappointed and annoyed as the story falls flat from what they were expecting; whether the content is not related to the headline or it is not factual in any way. If a headline is written to simply gain clicks then it can lead to a lack of trust with a user and the source, compared to authentic content that creates a valuable relationship between the two.

Many might find an overlap between a clickbait title and a news article’s characteristics, however, there is a clear difference. A news article headline is produced to encourage clicks, but, it is are accurate and truthful to the content it is preceding to.

All titles aim to attract the reader which is why clickbait is increasingly hard to determine. It has been described as ‘an article that doesn’t deliver on its headlines promise’ which is the big difference when it comes to news articles compared to clickbait articles.

This is why we believe the metrics used should include engagement, to ensure that the quality of content delivered is providing some sort of value to the reader.

CHANGES IN OUR NEWS FEED

In light of this, Facebook has announced a series of News Feeds tweaks in an attempt to decrease the reach and frequency of clickbait headlines. The new algorithm produced by Facebook is set to target individual posts by looking at two distinct signals; whether the headline withholds information, or if it exaggerates information separately.

Some users are aware of articles that have been over exaggerated but they still find themselves clicking on the article. Why? Everyone is curious, and as humans, we are intrigued to find out what the article is really about.

EXAMPLES OF CLICKBAIT

1. ‘The Puppies Way’ post is a great example of clickbait, the title and text get cut off giving you no other choice but to open up the article and give it a read. Here, they have played up on cows feeling emotion in a way that would be human.

2. Another great example is by ‘My Snoring Solution’ the picture creates a sense of panic and fear for those who snore, pairing it with sensational wording. Of course, the article then goes to show that you won’t die from snoring as they make out.

3. ‘I left my Husband & Daughter at home and this happened! I can’t believe it!’. This article has nothing to do with the family being left alone, when you click on it; it shows a duet between the father and daughter which now has 9 million views on YouTube.

Clickbait has been on the rise and a vast majority have fallen victim of a story that sounds too interesting to be true.

All stories are created to be interesting; however, it’s important to remember the difference. We write articles that are truthful, accurate and don’t leave the audience disappointed. Whereas clickbait articles are purely produced to receive more clicks onto a story that might not even be true.

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