BuzzFeed Clickbait Shared Less Often Than Non-Clickbait

When you look at BuzzFeed posts, it turns out that stories with the most "clickbait-y" headlines aren't shared as often as others.

BuzzFeed Clickbait-Keyhole

After our post on BuzzFeed and clickbait, Saif Anjani over at Keyhole, a hashtag analytics tracker, reached out to share some of their own research on clickbait and how it affects how posts are shared. ICYMI: BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith wrote a post on why BuzzFeed doesn’t do clickbait. The post encountered its fair share of derision, but also generated discussion about how to define clickbait and what it means for publishers.

By using the Oxford Dictionary definition of “clickbait,” Keyhole ran the posts and found that:

  • If you define clickbait in a broader way than Smith did, more than 63 percent of BuzzFeed’s content is clickbait.
  • Of these clickbait posts, 55 percent were numbered lists, 13 percent were quizzes and polls, and the remaining varied.
  • Smith’s right, clickbait doesn’t work. Their clickbait links generated less than half the retweets that non-clickbait posts generated (183 RTs for clickbait vs 390 for informational posts).

It makes sense that readers are smarter than the headline writers think. If you don’t deliver on your headline promise, why would anyone pass the link along?