Should I Use Clickbait? – Examples and the Dirty Secrets

Clickbait does not come naturally to me. When I see it in other contexts I intentionally make an effort not to click it, and have had to force my self to try it on some of my videos just to test the effect.

Whenever I have used it, some people will inevitably say that the Yang Gang should not rely on cheap tricks. In principle I agree, but reality is a different beast. Let me to explain why.

Testing clickbait

The first 4 months of my YouTube channel was a test of everything. I started as a complete newbie when it came to storytelling, videomaking, marketing etc. Testing different ways of effectively engaging people was the natural thing to do. Obviously, that would include testing clickbait and THE RESULTS WILL SHOCK YOU!! (Just kidding, you know it works)

The most important reason why it works on YouTube is called “click-through rate” (CTR). If you are not getting clicks, you are not going to get exposures/impressions on YouTube. It’s that simple.

So let’s have a look at the CTR of some of my videos, and the impact it had on the number of impressions that YouTube provided.

The Chris Christie video that eclipsed all of my other videos

This is the video I have spent the least amount of time on, and just to rub some salt in the wound – it’s not even accurate. You may notice that Andrew does not get to finish explaining the math of his plan. The reason I chose that clip over many others, was the fitting transition between clips. I didn’t check to see if Andrew provided a good explanation. I didn’t even bother fixing the arrow between clips. It was simply not made to be seen by “outsiders”.

The only reason I made that video, was because I needed a break from making the “If MSNBC let Yang speak” video. It should be clear by now that the Chris Christe video was not my proudest achievement, but let’s compare some of its key metrics with another video that were arguably much better.

You’ve probably already noticed the relationship between impressions and CTR. In theory there’s nothing wrong with this. When people stop wanting to watch the video, YouTube should stop promoting it. The problem is that other metrics are largely ignored, so clickbait becomes the only option.

The video recieved 2,26 likes/100 views, 0,4 comments/100 views (which is low levels of engagement) and had an audience retention rate of 69%. (high)

Compared to most recent video with significant stats “Andrew Yang – The Trailer”

This is not a perfect video by any means, and while I would not expect it to hit amazing numbers, it does have good metrics which does not result in it getting impressions.

This video has a 12,45 likes/100 views ratio and 2,2 comments/100 views. 5 times the levels of engagement. Audience retention was 70.7% (record level for the channel)

Despite the good numbers, these is the impressions and CTR results.

What have I learned so far?

  • Without clickbait, there will hardly be any organic views, besides the already converted.
  • The video has to elicit an emotinal response. Some form of disgust/controversy is most potent, such as with characters like Chris Christie and Kevin O’Leary.
  • Facebook is a great indicator of emotional impact. Facebook has been the main traffic source in all 5 of my most watched video, despite only being a main traffic source of 8 videos in total.
  •  The ratio between CTR and number of impressions is eksponential, with a lagging positive and immediate negative effect:
  • <10% CTR is dead on arrival, regardless of quality.
  • 10-15% gets a chance to go above 15%, but is quickly shot down without significant improvement .
  • 15%-20% will generate around 50k views.
  • 20% will go above 150k views.
  • 25%+ CTR will likely reach 1 million+ views. (these numbers are for a YouTube channel with <1k subscribers)

You might be tempted to think that this is just the case when algorithms are put in charge, but the same overall rules apply in places like Reddit on r/YangforpresidentHQ (illustrated by the previous 4 uploads)

Going forward: Preach to the chior, or use tricks to reach a wider audience?

I can’t ignore what works and elections are unfortunately popularity contests. Those are hard to win without anyone paying attention.

This means that going forward, you will see me try to use clickbait at certain times to grow the audience. You can see my overall strategy in this video.

The major problem with clickbait is that at some point, everything revolves around quantity rather than quality.

The main way I plan to avoid this, is to try to incentivize impact and quality, rather than views. I will do this by not focusing on ads. There are no ads on this website and the YouTube channel is not monetized.

Now, obviously there’s an economic element to keeping a project like this running, and for that I will have to rely on your voluntary donations and subscriptions, which you can read about at the bottom of the front page.

Since the goal of this project isn’t to get rich, but simply get enough support to keep working for societal changes, I hope that this “business model” will prove sufficient.

One Comment on “Should I Use Clickbait? – Examples and the Dirty Secrets

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