Facebook Clickbait… and Switch

Facebook Clickbait... and Switch

As the buzz around Facebook’s clickbait crackdown begins to hit mass media, it’s apparent that many content marketers are taking action and trying to salvage their clever headlines that have brought many pieces of content to reach viral levels for their brand. Facebook launched an update last Monday that will help to weed out clickbait from users’ news feeds. If clickbait has been such a successful marketing tactic, why remove it?

“Facebook’s goal is to distinguish between good click bait — catchy headlines that deliver real stories that back up the tabloid lure — and evil click bait — catchy headlines that are nothing more than a traffic generating bait-and-switch.” (Salon.com) If you’re not familiar with the term “clickbait”, the first thing you need to know is that, as of this moment, you’re a victim of it. Clickbait is a tactic that content marketers use to capture a reader’s attention by enticing them with a highly engaging headline that gives a user just enough information to want to see the outcome, but cleverly disguises what they may actually experience. More often than not, we could easily replace the term “clickbait” with “clickbait & switch”.

If you are like me, you’re always skeptical about reading articles that are the product of clickbait, and the majority of readers skip the intro paragraphs to get to the earth-shattering climax that the clickbait promised. This behavior is totally natural because the majority of us have come to realize that most clickbait-titled articles are 100% unfulfilling and taught us nothing new.

It’s true, many content marketers have abused the power of clickbait to catch readers’ attention just enough to click a link, but could truthfully care less about whether or not anyone actually engaged in the content. It’s all about clicks, shares and page views, right? Most marketers understand this mentality will destroy any content strategy. It’s not enough to get users to quickly thumb through content, but to actually engage, become inspired, motivate action, and promote change.

Being the cofounder of a content analytics platform, I constantly find myself hungry to enhance user experience as it relates to content marketing, and to never pursue any form of marketing that can’t be measured. This isn’t because I think unmeasurable forms of marketing don’t work, rather, I believe that learning helps us to understand how to better serve our people and how to create more inspiring ideas that promote inspiration. While there is an immense amount of power in an inspiring headline, there is success in an inspiring story. You can’t change a user’s behavior with one line, but with a story, you can change their life. This is the exact reason Facebook is cracking down on clickbait. It’s not necessarily because they are fed up with clickbait trespassing on users’ newsfeeds, it’s because Facebook wants to uphold their reputation of providing the most valuable content as it relates to each individual user. If there is a heavy amount of content that is loitering and performing bait and switch tactics on their users, they are taking action against what is demoting their image.

Great content is one of the best tools to use for inspiring action among your target audience. When creating content, as marketers, let’s focus on the root of inspiring user behavior, rather than focusing on topical tactics that will create short-lived vanity metrics and will never lead to brand affinity.