With a headline like that, how could you NOT read this blog post? After all, that’s the point of clickbait, the internet phenomenon made popular by websites such as Upworthy and Buzzfeed. Clickbait essentially exploits the curiosity gap by omitting a key piece of information to entice someone to click and/or keep reading.
The digital era has created a wealth of opportunity to reach a much wider audience. But there has also been a struggle to understand how, exactly, one should go about doing so. This is certainly true for the PR industry, but also for traditional news organizations and even businesses, and it makes the extraordinary success of the clickbait strategy all the more enviable.
So it came as somewhat of a surprise this week when Business Insider reported that Upworthy's cofounder Peter Koechley apologized for the sensational headlines that made him rich – and his website famous - at the Guardian's Changing Media Summit in London this week. Going forward, he’s saying “good-bye to clickbait”.
Upworthy successfully embraced the digital disruption – so why change strategy now?
The problem with Upworthy’s clickbait headlines is that they tend to over promise and then under deliver. And eventually readers will catch on and stop falling for the same trick.
On the other hand, if your headline is incredibly boring it doesn’t matter if your content over delivers – no one will bother reading it. That’s exactly why clickbait headlines shouldn’t be so easily dismissed. They do offer something. After all, they get people reading.
So here’s where your mind is blown: the solution is actually quite simple, and Koechley pointed to it at the Guardian event. He went on to say that Upworthy’s new approach would include sharing powerful stories “…that put you in someone else's shoes to help you see the world in other people's eyes."
The Upworthy example underscores that any piece of writing in the digital era – whether it’s a press release, news article or even blog post - needs to not only capture a reader’s attention but also deliver on content.
So go ahead and write an intriguing headline that sparks interest – just make sure your writing actually fills that curiosity gap.