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Did you fall for our clickbait?!! (sorry about that)

Regarded by many as annoying and unwanted, clickbait is the term used for articles / news that lure people in with enticing titles, but generally result in very little good content.

Most of us will know about clickbait, and yet we still click on these articles! What is it that lures us in and how can we then apply that to #SchoolMarketing?

7 elements of a clickbait title

Clickbait is grounded in understanding the human psyche. They play with our natural curiosity and become irresistible. After analysing lots of titles, one researcher believes there are 7 elements that make up clickbait titles:

  1. list: commonly seen on platforms such as BuzzFeed, for example: 20 restaurants that are straight-up living in the future. Lists are attention grabbing and effective lures that evoke our natural curiosity.  
  2. personal stories: using "you" or "I" in the title makes a title relatable and plays with our empathetic sides. Similarly, a story that features a person is relatable. This is why you shouldn't outrun a bear or This CEO's trick to managing hundreds of emails a day is absolutely brilliant are two great examples.
  3. animal: the internet and animals seem to go hand-in-hand. How many can say they don't know about the sneezing panda, or haven't watched funny cat / dog videos for an alarmingly long time? Break through the cute-factor with titles like: 20+ times Shibas proved they’re the most Much Wow dogs ever!
  4. recent media attention / news story: it seems obvious to say, but using trending news stories is a sure way to gain more clicks. We saw a lot of this on Facebook during the US elections. Popular news outlets even began using clickbait titles to push their content further, like Newsweek's article: Good news Donald Trump, you don't have to be very smart to be a good leader.
  5. pop-culture / food-culture reference: food and pop culture are seemingly irresistible topics. Quizzes like: Make yourself a cupcake and we'll guess your favourite cereal just seem to grab our attention. BuzzFeed's Tasty is also a great example of how to do it well, pushing content across Facebook and similar channels.
  6. unknown / new concepts: dangling an element of mystery as bait, or suggesting a new idea, makes it very difficult to resist clicking on a title. Does something like: Man tries to hug a wild lion, you won’t believe what happens next make you want to click it? 
  7. shock or excitement: suggesting something shocking and exciting is another powerful method to convince readers to click. 

Of the top performing clickbait articles:

  • 17% were listicles
  • 29% of the most shared titles mentioned “you”, “I” or hinted at a personal story
  • Only 8% mentioned an animal
  • 63% made a pop-culture reference or mentioned food
  • 63% also mentioned recent events in the news and media
  • 67% contained an unknown or new concept
  • 79% of the articles contained an element of shock

The X-Factor of titles

Did you know: combining these elements into titles can make articles even more appealing? It is just a matter of finding X.

According to the same research, titles with 3 or 4 elements within them have the greatest level of engagement!.

How to use in #SchoolMarketing

While clickbait is not the best received marketing tactic right now, we would still argue that there is value in taking the principles of clickbait titles and applying them to your school's marketing. It would be interesting to see what comes out of it. 

Here are a few example titles we had fun coming up with. Remember, 3 or 4 elements in a title seem to have the greatest impact.

  • 7 pizza recipes from the brilliant minds of children to give you goosebumps  (e.g. home economics)
  • This is how one pupil broke the school record. You won't believe how! (e.g. sports)
  • 10 trips all the kids are talking about. #4 will shock you! (e.g. school trips)
  • This is why our school is winning all the awards. Our parents can't believe it, can you? 
  • Tell us your favourite ice cream and we'll tell you what Old Schoolian you are (e.g. Alumni) 

By keeping the content light you can create eye catching titles that people will want to click. Thank you clickbait!

What do you think about this? Could clickbait hold some truth to great titles or is it all too much? We'd love to hear your thoughts. Please do comment below...you won't believe what will happen!