Quantifying the Clickbait and Linkbait in BuzzFeed Article Titles
"Creating a listicle" does not guarantee clickbait. If we want to create a headline that drives shares, we need to understand which are the powerful elements from a listicle we can utilize further.
Thankfully Max Woolf has taken the time to do a deep dive analytical research on how BuzzFeed's approach in using listicle has been successful in driving the article share-ability.
The headline usually begins with [X] as a numeral element. Including [X] reasons, [X] books, [X] movies, etc, where [X] is any 1 or 2-digit numeral. The size of [X] can be varies. The distribution of listicle in BuzzFeed is centered at the median of 19 entries. Surprisingly, the bigger the size of [X] is, the more shares it drives. A 30-size listicles receive more shares than a 10-size listicles.
BuzzFeed go-to listicle phrases has changed over the year.
In 2012, BuzzFeed most used listicle began with the [X], while in 2014, they began with [X] things. The "the" is technically redundant. The intention might be to make the listicle schema cleaner and less formal, thus it's possible that the listicle began with [X] things performs better than the [X].
Listicle using [X] things does indeed perform slightly better than the [X] on average. Emotional words which you would never find in a more serious journalistic publication such as 'insanely', 'awesome', and 'probably' are some of the key driver of shares.
BuzzFeed tends to write more frequently towards then-current events. For example, there were many articles about 2012 election during 2012, while April 2013 consisted of many articles about the Boston Marathon bombings.
There is more uncertainty in the accuracy of the average on keywords, especially with #1 word, career.
There is a strong focus on nostalgia, with toys, childhood, and 80s. Certain brands like disney and potter fits the nostalgia too.
Words such as which and character are likely caused by BuzzFeed quizzes, which have been incredibly popular.
3-Word phrases (trigrams) provided more helpful information than phrases of other lengths.
'Character are you', a frequent phrase in quizzes, is what leads to the most virality. These performs 3-4 times better than the best listicles on average.
'Things you probably don't know', 'things you never did', 'things you don't' - these phrases seems redundant but they refer to a bigger theme.
There is a frequent appeal on 'you', the reader, with 'you'/'your'/'you’re' appearing in about half of the top phrases.
A deeper understanding of what makes listicle a powerful to help articles share-ability.
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