What You Should & Shouldn’t Learn From Clickbait – Content Marketing & Clickbait: Part 3


Welcome to the final part in our mini-series on clickbait and content marketing.

In part 1, we looked at how we can use clickbait as a case study. In part 2, we looked at how clickbait has shaped the kind of content that succeeds in the modern social media space.

In this final part, we’ll look at why getting every edge is so vital in the realm of content and how clickbait can show us what we should and shouldn’t be doing to get that edge.

The reality of content shock

The amount of content being fired into the digital sphere – both on social media and beyond – is increasing exponentially.

This leads to the concept of content shock, a coin termed by Mark Schaefer in his infamous and contentious blog article “Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy”.

clickbait hooks image
In this article Schaefer explains the idea that the amount of time our audience has available doesn’t scale with the amount of content available, therefore a decreasing percentage of that content will get consumed. This means the potential reach, and potential return, can potentially become squeezed.

That’s why it’s increasingly important that we look at all the content we’re competing against, and at how we can be more attractive, more visible and more efficient.

The thin line between content marketing and clickbait

In part 2, we looked at the research done by Max Woolf into the correlation between listicle titles and number of Facebook shares.

From this research, we can see there are particular listicle styles and structures that perform well. Can we use these structures to inform our content production decisions? Absolutely. But the key word here is ‘inform’.

The image driven ‘X pictures…’ style of listicle might be viable for brands with a strong visual offering, while being unfeasible for others.

content marketing
Equally, with the brain teasers we discussed in part 2 – can we use this style of content to drive brand awareness on social media? Yes, it is possible. However, you need to consider if it makes sense for your brand. A millennial focussed fashion brand could make this work, a B2B commercial property company perhaps not so much.

Filtering via your brand

What we’re talking about here is filtering these content tactics through the lens of your brand. You need to take into account all the important stuff about your content – your tone of voice, your audience, your objectives, your available assets.

Looking at all of these elements, we can start to make a judgment about whether a particular style of content is suitable.

It may not be as simple as saying yes or no. We can be more nuanced than this. Taking the listicle for example, this doesn’t have to be a light piece of content lacking in substance. Going back to our B2B commercial property example, you could envisage a title like:

7 Ways to Get the Best Return From Your Commercial Property Investment

We’re using the proven format of the list based article, but we’ve tweaked the kind of content we’re going to produce to be appropriate for our audience and our tone of voice.

Clickbait reinforces the importance of quality assurance

As we established in parts 1 & 2, it’s not just about the headline. That’s what sets ‘proper’ content apart from clickbait.

We can’t just settle for getting the click, we need to deliver quality content that turns that click into something more valuable – whether that’s just a positive engagement with your brand or something more concrete like a form fill.

Based on everything we’ve talked about, it’s safe to say that producing collateral with magnetic headlines and sub-par content is a recipe for long-term audience dissatisfaction. While we can make a conscious decision not to do this, we have to make sure we’re not accidentally wandering into this territory.

content quality
Ultimately, cutting corners doesn’t work.

Failing to check your content output is up to standard can lead to you disappointing your readers – if this happens repeatedly, you can find yourself in the same social media rubbish bin as clickbait. It’s great to say ‘we want to put out quality content’, but it’s another thing to make sure you do it and do it consistently.

Conclusions on clickbait

  • Clickbait is most useful when you look at it as a measuring tool. It’s a great way to take the pulse of what’s working on social media.
  • With this in mind, we can aim to copy clickbaits tactics – but we shouldn’t copy its strategy. Writing listicles is fine, writing sub-par content is not.
  • Repeatedly disappointing your audience is a recipe for disaster. At first they may simply bounce away from your content, but eventually they will stop clicking all together.

Making this part of your content marketing strategy

This kind of social friendly content can becoming part of your overall approach to content marketing – but to know how it fits in, you need an understanding of your audience, your objective and what your overall strategy is with regard to content.

Our latest free guide will help you work out how to tailor your content output to both your target audience and your business objectives. Download The Essential Guide to Content Marketing today..


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