It seems like more often than not YouTubers are relying on the tactic of good old-fashioned clickbait. Clickbait in YouTube videos typically relies on two factors: Thumbnails and Titles. This will help you to distinguish which videos are good to watch and which you should just pass up on.
Most viewers will rely on thumbnails alone when deciding what videos to watch on YouTube. Because of this, many YouTubers have resorted to questionable ways of grabbing a viewer’s attention. Here are the things to look out for while skimming through YouTube videos.
If any singular item is circled or pointed to in the thumbnail, it’s probably clickbait. Typically these methods of highlight an item are very effective just because your eyes want to focus in on the bright colours that are drawing your attention. At first it seems like something was picked out that everyone had seemingly just missed, until you really look at the thumbnail to see that nothing in particular is actually being focused upon. Here are a few examples I’ve found on YouTube and across the internet:
These are just examples of one type of clickbait thumbnail. This type of thumbnail relies on misdirection. It seemingly displays something that you might be interested in, include a graphic to draw your attention, and then you notice that it’s a fake out. The content of the video might share the same theme as the thumbnail, but most likely the thumbnail is just smoke and mirrors to cover up a generic video.
The other type of clickbait thumbnail usually involves text that contradicts either the title or description of the video. Usually in this case a YouTuber might be posing a question in the title or description, but in the thumbnail they are selling their video as hard facts. Because of this I highly recommend that you always compare the title to the thumbnail and if something doesn’t line up then reconsider what you’re about to watch. Here are some examples of this type of thumbnail:
While most of the times the truth isn’t far off from what is being portrayed, it is a shady and misleading tactic that more and more YouTubers are using. It always seems that the larger the channel is, the more likely they are to use and abuse clickbait thumbnails.
I briefly touched on the use of misleading titles in relation to clickbait thumbnails, but now let’s go further in-depth into this. One of the most abundant type of video present on YouTube and across the internet is the list video.
I don’t recommend boycotting all list videos as there are channel out there that produce well researched and varied content, but it is a type of video that has been hijacked to draw in unwarranted views. List videos are easy to knock out as for every topic there are already hundreds, if not thousands, of written lists already present on the internet. If the entire focus of a channel is to produce list videos then the only way to discern the clickbait nature of the video is too look at the thumbnail. More often then not, list videos resort to clickbait thumbnails to draw in viewers for a video that might lackluster and already done. So the takeaway from this is to be weary of list videos, as these can be long, drawn out videos that are just not what you expected them to be.
Another tactic YouTubers rely on for creating clickbait titles is the use of strong words/language. In these cases the title will be punctuated by harsh attention grabbing words. Clickbait titles featuring strong language will rely on words like Banned, Scammed, Sucks, Dead, etc. If the video you’re about to watch also has single words in all caps, then you are most likely about to watch some clickbait.
These days clickbait has even gone meta with some people believing that if they explicitly mention that a video is not clickbait then they will most likely get more views. In drawing attention to the possibility of a video coming off as being clickbait, and then denying it, you are still creating the same intention of actual clickbait. The sad thing is that this type of YouTube reverse psychology is actually effective and easier to fall for than any other type of clickbait. This type of clickbait can be insidious in that you won’t realize you have been suckered into watching a clickbait video until it’s too late and you’ve already wasted your time watching a good chunk of it.
Every day I’m noticing more and more methods employees by YouTubers and other content creators, blurring the lines between real content and clickbait. Sad thing is that sometimes content creators have real and interesting content, but have resorted to these clickbait tactics because it’s a relatively easy way of getting meaningless views.
I will leave you all with this parting statement that is valid for more than just this topic: be weary about the things you see and hear online. Question everything and make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.