Clickbait: the strategy to increase clicks that can damage your reputation

Clickbait: the strategy to increase clicks that can damage your reputation

Franco Brutti

Dec 29, 2023

Dec 29, 2023

Dec 29, 2023

Clickbait: the strategy to increase clicks that can damage your reputation
Clickbait: the strategy to increase clicks that can damage your reputation
Clickbait: the strategy to increase clicks that can damage your reputation

Have you ever clicked on a headline that caught your attention but then didn't meet your expectations? It’s quite likely that you have been a victim of clickbait, a strategy that focuses on obtaining clicks, but that can damage the reputation of those who use it, both content creators, brands and/or companies.

However, this is not an impediment to using this tactic of content creation. In fact, it's still in vogue and even more so today, where the amount of information online makes it important to stand out. While it may not be the best way, it is arguably effective.

Of course, whether you use it or not is up to you, but do you have alternatives? That's what we want to talk to you about, from what clickbait is, to the options you have for not resorting to this practice. We promise it's not clickbait, do you want to continue reading?

What is clickbait?

Clickbait refers to a technique used in the creation of content, especially digital content, but with the objective of attracting the attention of users and encouraging them to click on a link or interact with the content. 

The term is used in a negative context due to its misleading or sensationalist nature, as clickbait is characterized by using eye-catching headlines, shocking images or provocative snippets of information to capture the curiosity of the audience and get them to click on a link. 

However, often the content behind the link does not live up to the expectations created by the headline, which can result in a frustrating and misleading experience for users.

So this term is seen associated with articles, videos or social media posts that promise surprising, outrageous or emotionally charged information, but don't actually deliver the substantive content hinted at in the headline. 

And yes, it’s true that it can effectively generate momentary traffic and attention, but it is also true that it can damage audience trust if used excessively and misleadingly.

Motivations for using clickbait

Motivations for using clickbait in online content creation can vary depending on the goals and circumstances of companies, brands and even content creators, but there are a few reasons that tend to be as the most prevalent, among which we would like to highlight: 

1. Traffic and visitor generation

One of the main goals behind clickbait is to attract a large amount of visitors to a website, article or online platform. The more clicks the content receives, the more traffic is generated, which can increase visibility and relevance on search engines and social networks.

2. Advertising revenue

Many websites and online platforms generate revenue through advertising. The more visitors they have, the more opportunities they have to show ads to their audience, therefore clickbait can be used to increase the number of clicks and therefore potential advertising revenue.

3. Competition for attention

In an online environment saturated with information and content, capturing users' attention can be difficult. Clickbait becomes a strategy to stand out from the crowd and attract users to click on a link, even if it’s just for momentary curiosity.

4. Virality and sharing on social networks

Content that uses clickbait techniques is often designed to be shared on social networks, so eye-catching and provocative headlines are more likely to generate conversation and be shared among users, increasing their reach and visibility.

5. Increased engagement

Sensational headlines and exaggerated promises can motivate users to interact with the content, either by clicking, commenting or sharing. This can lead to increased audience participation and engagement.

6. Increased subscription and number of followers

Clickbait can also be used as bait to entice users to subscribe to newsletters, follow accounts on social networks or perform other actions that allow creators to maintain constant contact with the audience in the future.

7. Outperforming the competition

In competitive markets, clickbait can be a way to stand out from other competitors and attract an audience that might be looking for quick information or instant solutions.

8. Achieving personal goals

In some cases, creators may use clickbait to achieve personal goals, such as gaining notoriety, increasing their follower base or even manipulating public opinion around certain issues.

Motivations for using clickbait

How does clickbait affect user experience and brand reputation?

Excessive and misleading use of clickbait can have several negative effects on both the user experience and the reputation of the brand or content creator. Here are a few ways clickbait can have a negative impact:

Effects on users

  • Disappointment and frustration: when users click on a clickbait link and the content does not meet the expectations generated by the headline, they experience disappointment and frustration. This can lead to a sense of wasted time and a negative perception of the website or platform.

  • Loss of trust: clickbait breaks the trust users have in the information source. If users feel repeatedly misled, they are less likely to trust the headlines and information presented, which may lead them to look elsewhere for content.

  • Decreased engagement: while clickbait may generate initial clicks, the resulting low-quality or misleading content destroys engagement in the long run. Users may quickly abandon the site if they do not find value in the content.

  • Negative brand perception: if the practice of clickbait is associated with a particular brand or website, this can lead to it being perceived as untrustworthy, sensationalist or unserious. This perception can negatively affect the brand in the long run. 

Effects on the brand and/or content creator

  • Loss of credibility: trust is essential for any brand or content creator. Constant use of clickbait can erode credibility and cause consumers to doubt the accuracy and completeness of the information provided.

  • Difficulty building strong relationships: building lasting relationships with consumers is based on trust. Clickbait can make it difficult to build strong relationships, as users may feel used and manipulated rather than valued.

  • Negative social media reactions: if users feel misled by clickbait content and share their negative experiences on social media, this can further damage brand reputation and generate a negative response online.

  • Unfavorable comparisons: Brands that resort to clickbait may be compared unfavorably with others that offer valuable and honest content. This can lead consumers to prefer the competition over the brand that uses deceptive tactics.

Pros and cons of using this strategy

The question of whether it is acceptable to use deceptive tactics to attract attention is a controversial issue and depends largely on the ethical and moral values of each brand or content creator, as well as the context in which these tactics are used, so you should consider the pros and cons:


  • Competition for attention: in an information-saturated online environment, it is sometimes difficult to stand out and attract the attention of the audience. Some argue that using eye-catching tactics may be necessary to compete in this highly competitive space.

  • Creativity and experimentation: Some advocate the use of deceptive tactics as a way to be creative and experiment with content presentation. They argue that, if the content behind the bait is valuable, the ends may justify the means.

  • Audience awareness: some argue that users are increasingly aware of clickbait tactics and can learn to identify them. In this sense, it could be considered a kind of game between creators and users.


  • Lack of integrity: the use of deceptive tactics, such as clickbait, can be seen as a lack of integrity on the part of content creators or brands. Tricking users into clicking on a link can undermine the trust and credibility of the source.

  • Relationship with the audience: building a strong relationship with the audience is based on trust and transparency. Using deceptive tactics can damage this relationship and lead to a loss of respect from users.

  • Negative brand perception: deceptive tactics can lead to the brand or content creator being perceived as untrustworthy or sensationalistic. This can have a lasting impact on the brand's reputation and image.

Pros and cons of using clickbait

Alternatives to clickbait

There are several effective alternatives to clickbait that allow you to engage your audience in an honest way and deliver valuable content. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Clear and descriptive headlines: use headlines that are clear and descriptive about the content of the article or video. Avoid exaggerating or creating false expectations. This will let users know exactly what to expect before they click.

  • Intriguing but truthful headlines: instead of promising something you can't deliver, create headlines that arouse curiosity but are still truthful about the content. Offer a general idea of what the content is about without exaggerating.

  • Provide immediate value: focus on providing value from the first few paragraphs or minutes of the content. Demonstrate that the content is relevant and useful to users right from the start.

  • Use interesting facts and data: incorporate interesting data, statistics or facts in your headlines to genuinely capture attention. Make sure this data is relevant to the content you are offering.

  • Create headlines that ask relevant questions: headlines that ask relevant questions can be an effective way to engage users. Make sure the question is directly related to the content and that there’s an answer in the article.

  • Focus on solutions or benefits: highlight solutions to common problems or benefits that users will gain from consuming your content. Emphasize how your content can improve their lives or provide them with valuable information.

  • Demonstrate credibility: if you have relevant achievements, awards or recognitions, mention them in your titles. This can increase users' credibility and trust.

  • Use relevant images: the images that accompany your content should be relevant and consistent with the topic. An attractive and relevant image can capture attention without resorting to clickbait.

  • Segment the right audience: Make sure your titles are targeted to your target audience. Knowing your audience will allow you to create headlines that resonate with their interests and needs.

  • Build a strong brand: Instead of relying on clickbait to attract attention, work on building a strong, trusted brand. When users know your content is valuable and honest, they are more likely to return.

Remember that clickbait, while it is a strategy you can use, you have more reliable options to avoid damaging your brand image or your reputation as a content creator, so considering this list of alternatives may be your best option.

However, whether or not to use any of these alternatives or to go for clickbait is up to you, so we ask you: what are your plans? Do you think it's worth the risk? We'll read you in the comments.