Have you fallen into the clickbait trap? Do you find yourself looking for an outrageous angle that you can use for a title? Are you using CAPS LOCK FOR YOUR TITLES TO MAKE THEM SEEM MORE INTERESTING?

Clickbait is done in two ways. One is the correct way and will result in views and loyal audiences. The other is the clickbait trap, and it can kill your channel! While clickbaiting gets a bad wrap, it’s only because there are creators that abuse its power. Used properly, clickbait is less nefarious, and actually benefits both the creator and the viewers. Let’s look at how you might fall into the clickbait trap.

Falling into the Clickbait Trap

Bad clickbait centers around three things: Vagaries, deceptive thumbnails and failing to deliver. Bad clickbait is always intentionally vague. They often pose a question, but do nothing to give you any indication about what the answer might be. For example “HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?” or “CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS?!” Which leads us to the second clickbait problem: deceptive thumbnails.

Often, to build a narrative based upon the title, the thumbnail ends up playing to people’s curiosity. A shocked or crying face, a picture of a police car, or something destroyed. Creators sometimes go out their way to take the most ‘controversial’ element of the video to use that as their thumbnail. These things in and of themselves aren’t the big problem with clickbait. The problem arises when the creator’s click does:

Not Deliver on the Clickbait

Clickbaiting that something interesting may happen, and nothing interesting happens is not good. Clickbaiting about an arrest where you weren’t arrested is not good. Clickbaiting a shocking thing, when in reality nothing shocking happens is not good. You get the point. You can have a title that says “HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?” with a thumbnail showing off damaged property. BUT, if the crux of the video doesn’t turn that title into an engaging story line - you’re not delivering on the clickbait.

How the Clickbait Trap can Kill Your Channel

In all honesty, clickbait is a necessary part of growing and getting people to engage with your content. But, clickbaiting on false pretense and not delivering is what can kill your channel.

When you fall into the clickbait trap by clickbaiting with no reason, you are preying on people’s curiosity. By not delivering, people will start leaving negative comments on your video. They will also thumb down your videos. Viewers may even report your video for a variety of reasons. Clickbait, if abused, can bring a lot of toxicity to your channel. That can signal to YouTube that your content is not-advertiser friendly. It could make you a higher target for community guideline strikes. That alone can kill your channel.

As such, when clickbaiting, make sure you’re doing it correctly! Always deliver an interesting story associated with the clickbait.