For today’s post I want to provide a concise overview about clickbait and add my own thoughts. So, the post might not be relevant for readers who already know what clickbait is and how it works, but I personally was not aware of the technique behind it until a few months ago.
First of all, what is clickbait?
Clickbait is a strategy to get reader’s attention online, mainly used on news websites and blogs, while aspects such as sensationalism, gossip or scandals play an important role (Blom, 2015). The idea behind it is simple: a reader who does not click, does not bring profit to the website and therefore curiosity has to be induced within the potential reader (Blom, 2015).
Why is it so effective?
Authors, who write such headlines, often use the so called Curiosity Gap as a technique. The idea behind is that the headline contains a trigger word, such as “this”, and provides information within the headline that create curiosity within the reader (Chakraborty, 2016). An example could be “If you want to know how this man survived cancer and received a noble prize afterwards, click here”. As a consequence, the reader wants to close his knowledge gap and read the article.
Personally, such headlines most often have the opposite effect: When I browse through news articles or websites and I detect a clickbait, I already assume that the deadline promises more than the article could deliver, so I avoid to click. Just in certain cases, when I am not aware or I am strongly interested in filling my knowledge gap, then I might click, but with a slightly bad feeling because I just supported clickbait.