It’s a blurry line between clickbait and a genuine compelling title. Publishing websites like Buzzfeed and Cracked are masters of toeing the line; crafting headlines specifically engineered to get a rise out of their audience – and a click. For them, this is ok. Their business is eyeballs, and they do not rely on trust or brand loyalty to get their viewers – they only need your click.

Your business is different, and our warning is a stern one:  authenticity is key.

Clickbait is losing its appeal to audiences and to online content marketing sites, and savvy businesses will pay attention. Facebook recently announced that clickbait articles will show much lower in results while Tumblr had to change its search results to reduce the number of clickbait articles showing up.

What is Clickbait?

For those who aren’t familiar with the term, clickbait refers to headlines that are deliberately mysterious and often misleading to get readers to click on the link. Many times, the information is much less interesting and possibly not even relevant to the headline.

There are many reasons clickbait articles aren’t a good idea for companies looking to find new ways to promote themselves. While they want to capture the attention of their audiences, this is one method that’s proving not too work anymore. Smart followers have learned to recognize and avoid clickbait.

Too Much of Anything isn’t a Good Thing

While an occasional jaw-dropping, eye-popping headline can get your attention, consistently using this strategy for your marketing doesn’t work. It loses its appeal and shock-value when overdone. Even if you are careful to ensure the title matches the story, people develop negative opinions about the headlines.

Another issue is that your story isn’t usually alone. It is often grouped in with other clickbait articles, which will reduce its effectiveness.

No Believability

It’s like the tabloid articles you see in the checkout lanes at grocery stores. People see the shocking headlines, glance at the article while waiting in line and may even take the paper home with them to read. But they don’t usually believe the whole story because it lacks credibility.

The same can be said of clickbait articles. It’s viewed as sensationalism, which is often not believable. The goal of most businesses putting out content is to develop their brand and to be recognized as an authority. Clickbait doesn’t meet that goal. It can, in fact, make people less likely to believe anything else the company says.

Loss of Trust

Because clickbait is viewed as sensational journalism at best, readers don’t trust it. That lack of trust extends to the company and website that puts out such content. If customers don’t trust your business, they will move to the competition who they can trust.

Even if your shocking or mysterious headlines are honest and relevant to the story that follows, people will read with a suspicious attitude – if they read the article at all. You don’t want to start readers out on the defensive or you make your job of converting them into followers that much harder.

Can you use captivating headlines to capture attention? Yes! But to avoid being listed as clickbait, your article must be even more exciting than your headlines. While you want your title to be interesting and get people to read your content, the focus should be on the actual article itself. Every sentence and paragraph should build on the last to keep people reading. If you avoid using clickbait and instead focus on providing valuable content in an interesting way, you’ll get the results you want and develop a positive reputation for your content and your company.