The War On Clickbait: How To Stay On The Playing Field




  • — February 6, 2017

    If you’re in the midst of preparing a Facebook post for a client right now, you might want to stop for a second and make sure you aren’t in trouble. Facebook is notorious for changing algorithms as much as it possibly can, and an upcoming change could be one of the biggest. Facebook has now set its sights on clickbait for good, and is prepared to do whatever it needs to do to reduce its presence.


    The company has been at war with clickbait for a long time, but now it is intending to get rid of as much clickbait as possible. For any agency that isn’t in the know (and we are just about prepared to believe that there might still be agencies who are clueless about clickbait) the outlawed technique involves creating incredibly provocative headlines to stories and posts (and email) that are so well written that they compel people to click.


    The War On Clickbait: How To Stay On The Playing Field


    But the problem is that some marketers who create these great headlines have linked content that is either a huge disappointment or has absolutely nothing to do with the headline itself. The whole idea revolves around people clicking and visiting websites and so on, in the hope that you can grab a sale or some advertising impressions.


    Now, Facebook is taking things even further. It started a war against clickbait last year, but has recently announced that it is going to pursue even more clickbait. And this is all part of Facebook’s grand strategy of making the platform more personal.


    And as if that wasn’t serious enough, Snapchat is also taking strong steps towards ensuring that fake news and clickbait don’t clog up the platform. It has announced some measures in the last few days that will, as Facebook is doing, devalue spammy posts. The vice president of content on Snapchat had this to say:


    ‘We have been collaborating closely with all of our publishers, whose content has continued to evolve. We want to be a great partner to all of our editorial partners, and updating our content guidelines to better reflect where our platform is today is an important part of that.’


    To ensure your client doesn’t see their posts dropping down a rejection mountain, consider the following to be waypoints that should keep your posting on the straight and narrow.


    Be honest


    The biggest problem with clickbait is that it wastes people’s time, or even worse, creates a situation where people feel offended. Don’t let your client’s brand be a problem, and consider setting up a bit of a mantra on honesty.


    Your focus should continue to be honesty. If you create an article headline or a post title that people click on because of the shock value or the intrigue, and the site or article linked to has nothing to do with that title, you’re creating linkbait.


    It’s easy to craft a deliberately sensational headline and then watch the traffic roll in. The problem is that most of these headlines promise something that can’t be delivered. Make it a priority to check through your headlines and post titles on a regular basis, and ensure that the links they hold deliver on any promises. It’s just common sense really, but it does ensure that you have a platform that has integrity.


    Find out what people click through


    To ensure that you keep on top of this, check out your metrics to see which titles are not performing well. These will probably be the titles that aren’t being 100% honest, or lazy titles. Find out what people click through on a continuous basis. And use that style again and again moving forward.


    But above all, ensure those titles aren’t promising without delivering. Facebook and plenty of other platforms will penalise you if this is too common an occurrence.


    Back to basics on value


    Keep those titles non-clickbait, by all means, but even then it isn’t a sure thing that you’ll avoid a penalty in the news feed rankings. You also need to deliver top quality, useful content. The Internet has always been based on value (even when people have been delivering clickbait). No matter how solid and genuine your titles are, if the reader then clicks onto a bland, so-so article, or poor quality web content, you will still be seen as a brand that isn’t trying hard enough.


    Look at where your links take people, and make sure that it’s your best content. Your client will need to be delivering useful stuff on a regular basis. Make the connection between the title and the content a natural one, and make the content naturally useful.


    One and done


    Bear in mind the ‘one and done’ problem. This Is where people come to your site or article through clickbait titles and then bounce almost immediately. Work on the titles being quite genuine and ordinary, not designed to simply bring traffic.


    The more genuine you are with your titles, the more likely they will, over time, choose to click. If you get a one and done result with all of your titles, because it’s clickbait, you’re asking to be downgraded.


    The focus on ensuring that your titles are genuine is the first part. The next step is to make sure that all content you create for an audience brings natural value to their lives and businesses.


    Avoid clickbait like the plague. We guarantee that you’ll be seeing less of it on Facebook and other platforms soon enough. They don’t like it, and neither will your client if they tumble down people’s newsfeeds.


    Want to get your hands on some serious metrics so that you know what works on social and what doesn’t? Of course you do. Head over to Locowise and grab a completely free 14 day trial. You won’t regret it.

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    Author: Sahail Ashraf


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