Clickbait is a gimmick that trades short-term web traffic for long-term reader engagement, and that's something you never want to do in business writing.

If you're on Facebook, your feed is probably littered with clickbait headlines your friends are liking or sharing. They're full of phrases like 'you'll never guess what happened next' and invariably lead to disappointment when you're manipulated into clicking through to what turns out to be a very mundane story.

The Shorty Award winning @SavedYouAClick Twitter feed run by @jakebeckman amusingly undermines annoying clickbait

The whole process is irritating for you as a reader. But the person who wrote the link doesn't care because they’ve already got what they wanted – your click. They've tricked you into clicking and they don’t care how that makes you feel.

Is this how you want to treat readers in a business environment? I don't think so. Writing for business usually means you're trying to give busy people valuable content that makes them feel good about your brand.

Headlines should be, well, a bit like the one for this post. They should give readers information about the story that helps them decide whether they want to click through and read on. Headlines should sum up interesting stories, not trick people into reading boring ones.

So if you're ever tempted to write a clickbait headline for a piece of corporate communication, I'd say: think again. You may strengthen your numbers for now but in the long run you'll damage your brand.

From notebook

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