Facebook has introduced measures to reduce the number of clickbait headlines that it shows in your newsfeed. A victory for all of us who have wasted time clicking on a headline, and ended up being misled into reading a load of nonsense.

Farewell to ‘32 Health Things You’ve Been Doing Wrong for Years’ and ’12 Facts You Won’t Believe Are True.’

Perhaps we can look forward to the return of well-written, factually-accurate headlines, to click on to find meaningful results.

Clickbait I couldn’t resist opening

Most click-baits over-promise and can’t deliver. The complete opposite of the email campaign that pinged into my inbox with the headline ’24 months in bed would be a dream for some of us too…’

“Dear Friends,

24 months “in bed”… would be a dream for some of us too. But the land is unforgiving, and keeps us busy. Someone at La Vialla, however, has had this privilege: the Cuvée Rosé, the Fattoria’s new Méthode Traditionnelle, has spent 24 months “sur lie” (= on its lees) loading up with aroma and fragrance (and beauty!). But now it’s time for it to wake up: glasses in hand, we pop the cork!”

The sender is Fattoria La Vialla, an Italian farm and wine estate, and their copy is well-crafted, full of earthy tones, but not overdone. It’s still clunky, full of grammatical no no’s, like starting a sentence with ’24 months’ instead of ‘Twenty four months’. Of course, a hipster in an ad agency in Shoreditch may have been paid to fake authenticity and make it sound this way. Somehow I doubt it unless they’ve also spent a lot of time creating a long back story – the farm exists and their food is produced in the way they say. And I know they deliver on their promise because I couldn’t resist and bought some.

More clicks = more money

The aim of click-bait, home of the sensational headline is to get us to click. The owners of the site make money because they can charge more for the advertising (Pay Per Click).

They don’t care about our disappointment, and that we don’t read the article.

In the end, you shouldn’t have to bait your audience.

Headline writing is about grabbing attention, and rewarding it by providing content that is relevant to the audience. You can still write headlines that people want to click on – by using humour, surprise and intrigue. It takes a bit more time and skill, but at least I know I’m writing for people rather than advertisers.
But what d’you think?