Clickbait is a “news” link with an eye catching title. Its main goal is to generate internet traffic, but the article never really lives up to the hype. Everyone has probably fallen victim to clickbait. We will see the title and immediately know that it is clickbait, but still, more often than not, we click on that link to find out what the mom, who is dying in ten days, said to her son, yet our minds are never blown.
Clickbait utilizes many tactics in their headlines to capture a person’s attention. The article, “The Six Things That Make Stories Go Viral…” just as the title implies, gives six key points that help make a story go viral. Clickbait typically uses a few of these points to help get clicks and shares. The titles can range from using emotion, arousal, social currency, memory inducing, practical value, and maybe even quality. Sometimes even the clickbait article will provide a few of these things. This same article even gives an example of clickbait that generates emotion (happiness) out of the reader, “Watch a Teenager Bring His Class to Tears Just by Saying a Few Words.” This video gives some explanation behind clickbait, and how some well-known news sites are trying to mimic this strategy.
(Disclaimer: The video is 8 minutes long)
The rise of clickbait could be traced to the rise of the internet and social media. As social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, increased in users, the sites allowed an increase in company advertisements, which included clickbait. Additionally, users trying to gain followers to boost their visibility and income used “click farms,” which allowed the user to buy fans. However, this article explains how clickbait has somewhat been trending downward. It states, “At the end of 2013, Facebook made some changes that meant that users were seeing a lot less content posted by businesses, so followers purchased lost their value. They also introduced paid advertising, that allows page owners to boost their posts to expand their reach.” The article also shows that from November 2013 to April 2014, the clickbait site, Upworthy, has lost over half of its visitors, 90 million to 42 million. While Upworthy may be falling, Buzzfeed is still going strong, with an increase from 147 million to 162 million over that same time period.
While there is no actual data on whether clickbait is in decline or not, it is still very much everywhere on the internet. However, Facebook and Twitter still play a huge roll in clickbait traffic. This infographic provides a detailed look at how these social media sites affect click bait (I decided not to post the actual infographic, because it is about a mile long). Have you ever experienced clickbait? Do you think clickbait will eventually decline and become less prevalent on the internet?