Increase Your Audience with 'White Hat' Clickbait Practices

by Sarah Hayes on April 12, 2016


You've no doubt seen these sort of headers floating around the Net: "8 Reasons to Buy a Plane Ticket to Patagonia Today" or "5 Year Old Spills Ice Cream: What He Does Next Will Leave You Laughing."

A title is usually considered clickbait if it transparently tries to hook you into clicking on it; usually by hinting at something wonderful (or horrible) waiting inside. Over time, clickbait has become more synonymous with misrepresentation, or blatantly making a ridiculous title just to get people's attention.

 That's a problem, because you absolutely want people's attention, but you really don't want to be known for misrepresentation, especially in the B2B world. So how should you craft the titles of your content? Is it okay to use clickbait? As with many issues, our answer is: Yes...if you do it the right way. There are "white hat" clickbait practices that can help you get more readers, and we're going to talk about them.

Using Listicles

About a quarter of the articles on Buzzfeed (one of the original creators of clickbait titles) are listicles, or lists of numbered items. Listicles are so common because they are easy to build and effective at getting information across. They also lend themselves well to healthy clickbait titles. The key is to not use them too often – and try to sprinkle in some infographics as well.

Creating Cliffhangers

Your title doesn't need to give everything away, and sometimes shouldn't. Don't be afraid to open with a cliffhanger that will make your readers want to continue and find out more information. Promise something worthwhile in a fun kind of way: "The Most Popular Type of Prefabrication May Surprise You".

Staying Accurate

For this point, let's look at two stars in the clickbait world, Buzzfeed and Upworthy. Buzzfeed typically has, for lack of a better phrase, good clickbait. The combination of straightforward title, picture, and subtitle makes it very easy to understand: You know what you are getting into right off the bat. Upworthy, on the other hand, often has poor clickbait (no offense to Upworthy fans). The titles are odd appeals to emotion with very little description, and you can never be sure what you're going to get when you click. When building your own clickbait, try to be more informative and use cues to inform your readers, like Buzzfeed does.

Finding the Right Buttons

Clickbait practices can be useful in another way – they show you what your customers respond to. If you are working with clickbait and see that one approach is getting you a lot of conversions, you've probably found a good way to appeal to your target audience psychologically. Create a collection of these "buttons" to use when you really want a piece of content to get a lot of traffic.

Respecting People's Time

The easiest way to avoid bad clickbaiting is with respect. Respect the time and energy of your readers. Don't try to trick them and don't promise information and then under-deliver. Remember, in the online world even a few seconds of scanning an article is valuable time. On the other hand, if all of your surprises are good surprises, people will keep coming back.


About Us 21 Handshake

Sarah Hayes

Project Manager at 21 Handshake, a strategic marketing company, driven to grow relationship-driven businesses. A self described life long learner that thrives on detail, I love bringing these skills to the table to help others succeed.

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