We’re going to keep this short, because according to statistics, we’ve already lost you. On average, 8 out of 10 people will read the headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. That’s just slightly better than my grades.

We’re counting on you, oh magnificent 2 out of 10.

Love is blind, so is content engagement.

The Science Post published an article with the shocking headline, “70% of Facebook users only read the headline of science stories before commenting”. Seems like an insightful article. So insightful, in fact, that the article has been shared over 50,000 times.

Here’s an extract from the article;

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam consectetur ipsum sit amet sem vestibulum eleifend. Donec sed metus nisi. Quisque ultricies nulla a risus facilisis vestibulum. Ut luctus feugiat nisi, eget molestie magna faucibus vitae. Morbi luctus orci eget semper fringilla. Proin vestibulum neque a ultrices aliquet. Fusce imperdiet purus in euismod accumsan. Suspendisse potenti. Nullam efficitur feugiat nibh, at pellentesque mauris.”

This was the entirety of the article.

NPR.org published an article on “Why doesn’t America read anymore”. The headline included a subject which would easily gauge a reaction from individuals. People shared the article on every social platform captioning the story out of context. If you were to click the link here, you’d understand why (but you probably wouldn’t click on it, or would you?).

As fascinating as this may be, they managed to shed light on a seeming dangerous yet very real problem. Not only have people moved from not questioning content that is written on the internet, to not even reading the content that they themselves are giving commentary about.

You see articles like “10 things that will shock you” and “What happened next will change your life” type content plague the internet.

People are naturally curious creatures, we want to know everything so badly. Science has progressed due to our unquenching thirst for knowledge, but so has Buzzfeed.

This summary will shock you!

We’re not journalists, we get that there is a problem here but let’s take a step back. This means that you need to re-evaluate everything you write. You need to write with the thumbnail in mind. You need to position every bit of content you write thinking that the only thing that people will read is the title.

This means, as content creators you’re telling the story to two types of people. And it has to make sense to both. The person that reads your content and understands it, as well as those who simply comment on a thumbnail.

We’re competing for attention, and if you’re running a blog or a website that usually comes in the form of clicks. As marketers, we need to understand that the story we tell to bring someone onto the page has to connect with the story told once they’re here. Getting a few clicks may help you land some advertisers but that’s short-lived.

If there’s anything to take away from clickbait content is that it’s this, remember that people judge your book by its cover. At least 8 out of 10 do. You don’t have to write to those people, but if you want to get your message out there and be heard you may want to rethink the way that you tell your story.

Set your title and choose your thumbnail. Ours is a cat.