9 Reasons Why People Always Fall for CLICKBAIT!

You’ve probably seen it all by now. It has been around since the dawn of free press and it is almost certainly here to stay. Everywhere you look, from sketchy news sites to respectable media outlets, you can always find those articles with thumbnails filled with emojis, colourful backgrounds or famous people, and somewhat cringworthy titles. It is the perfect way to catch people’s attention and make them ‘click’ on your site’s link, or buy your newspapers, or listen in on your show instead of the competitors’.

So what makes you, the reader, fall for these clickbait headlines?

1. Newsjacking

Newsjacking is when clickbait articles use popular (trending) topics, brands, scandals etc. to get more attention.

For Example:

  1. You won’t believe [Person/Brand involved in Scandal] ‘s response to [Insert Current Criticism Here]!
  2. Check Out What [Brand/Person] Secretly Told [News Outlet/Person/Popular Group] What They Really Think About [Insert Controversial Topic Here]!

This is also heavily used by companies to elevate their brand’s message.

A well received Newsjacking promotion by Oreo during the 2013 Superbowl Blackout in the USA

2. Hot Topics

The Hot Topic is similar to Newsjacking. It uses sensitive subjects like race, politics, sex and religion to get people’s attention towards your otherwise completely boring article.

Image result for fire gif

For Example:

  1.  [Person] Yells [Inappropriate Thing] Towards [Celebrity]
  2.  [Person] [Shocking Thing] to see if people treated him differently. You won’t believe the results!
  3. Absolutely Shocking! You will never guess how [People against something controversial] are using this [Photo in Favour of something controversial]

3. Cliff-Hangers

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Cliff-hangers tease just enough to get your attention but stop just short of finishing to make you click. This also includes those terrible sites which make you click to another advertisement filled link to finish reading the whole article.

For Example:

  1. Thing Nobody Will Tell You About [Difficult/Complex Thing] You’re Doing
  2. This [People/Brand] Did [Insert Literally Anything Here] and it [Didn’t End The Way You Think It Ended]!

4. Lists

The majority of humans absolutely adore lists. Who in their right mind would want to read through a 1000 words article in their free time?

Lists help create an easier reading experience and allows you to prepare your audience to how much attention they’ll need to pay towards your article. Also, if one sets out to learn about the “7 Largest Empires that Truly Shaped the World We Know Today!”, and by the end you know all seven, the reader will more than likely feel satisfied and therefore be more susceptible to click on your numbered list-styles clickbait articles again.

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5. Problem Solving

Imagine you’re looking for the perfect place to take your loved one for your anniversary, and suddenly an article with the title “5 Absolutely Beautiful Places To Spend Time With That Special One Around Your Area!” You’re almost definitely going to click on it. Sometimes, even if you don’t have that specific problem, there is a good chance you’ll still click on it, to see what the solution would be if you ever encountered it. The problems used in these types of clickbait articles are usually very small and generic, so that many people who see the title would think of it as their own current problem and therefore click.

6. Exaggerations

Exaggerating is the pinnacle of clickbait. It simply would not be a clickbait article if you do not exaggerate the contents of your article.

Who would read an article titled: “5% Off At [Shop Name]”? How about “You Won’t Believe the Amazing Offers Waiting for You at [Shop Name]!”

Image result for exaggeration clickbait

7. Politicians and Celebrities

Mention Trump or any celebrity in your article’s headline and you’re set. Exaggerate anything s/he did, write 400 words about it, then sit back and wait for those who share articles without actually reading them to increase your article’s reach significantly.

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8. Emotions

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Making emotional connections with your user is essential for any article, but clickbait articles always try to invoke the extreme and negative emotions like rage, jealousy and fear.  Emotional manipulation is one of the best methods to ensure that the readers continue reading your article till the end, and increase the chance of them clicking on similar clickbait articles in the future.


9. Odd Numbers

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You probably never took notice, but the majority of clickbait articles use odd numbers in titles. This is mainly done to add authenticity to the article, making it seem more trustworthy as it suggests that the content found within the article is created out of the available information and not filled with material thrown in for balance.


For a more serious/detailed article about Fake News and Clickbait, check out this article: How To Avoid Fake News

Written by: Nathan Portelli


3 thoughts on “9 Reasons Why People Always Fall for CLICKBAIT!

  1. Nicely done Nathan – as you mention, this has been done for a long time. They do it because it works, obviously. Until people learn how to spot these things and avoid being manipulated by them, we’ll continue to see them.

    Liked by 1 person

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