Why Clickbait Is Actually Good for Your YouTube Channel

Not all clickbait is terrible on YouTube. If you're meeting viewers' expectations and satisfying their needs, what some call clickbait is just good marketing.

If you do YouTube long enough, you begin to understand what makes viewers…well, view. A bold thumbnail with lots of shock value is bound to make people curious. A mysterious title with a hint of emotion does the trick too.

On YouTube, the worst thing you can do is be too straightforward, such as:

  • Writing video titles that are all "topic" and no emotion
  • Creating thumbnails with no glitz or glamour

You see, there has to be a little magic — a stretching of the truth. When viewers see your title and thumbnail, they should feel like a kid at Disney World: unable to look away.

And how do you do that? With clickbait, of course.

This strategy gets a bad rap on YouTube, but it's actually quite helpful when done tastefully. Most would agree that you need a little clickbait to pique viewers' interest, make them click, and have a real shot at satisfying their needs.

So here's why thoughtful clickbait is enjoyable for everyone (and boosts your views).

MrBeast's Bank Robbery Video: An Example of Good Clickbait

"First to rob a bank wins $100,000."

When you read this video title from MrBeast, you understand two things:

  1. A group of people will try to rob a bank.
  2. The first person to do it gets $100,000.

Will MrBeast actually stage a robbery? Probably not, but that's beside the point. What's appealing to viewers is the chance it could happen. And if that chance is low already (because robbing a bank means real jail time), the next question is, what will the video actually show?

Maybe the thumbnail will give us a clue:

A YouTube thumbnail showing MrBeast in a bank vault, hanging from a stealth rope to grab a pile of money.

We see a bright pile of money, a bank vault, and MrBeast hanging from a stealth rope. This image, combined with the video title, creates a shock value that makes people click.

But when they do, they realize no one's robbing an actual bank. MrBeast has designed a video set that looks like a bank, and contestants are trying to win an organized competition.

Does that mean the title and thumbnail are "bad" clickbait? Not quite.

As a quick test, watch the video below and ask yourself, Is this unsatisfying or upsetting? If this were bad clickbait, you would feel those effects.

Why this clickbait is so good:

  • The video is close to the original topic in the title and thumbnail. There's a robbery of some kind, even if it's technically fake.
  • No one feels misled. In fact, viewers are leaving positive comments.
  • The video has 7 million views and counting; the clickbait is working.

So, yes, the bank is fictional, but millions of viewers are satisfied nonetheless. That's a sign of good clickbait.

What Is Bad Clickbait on YouTube?

If good clickbait matches viewers' expectations, bad clickbait does the opposite. It makes a video seem wildly inaccurate or deeply unsatisfying for what was promised.

Here's what bad clickbait looks like:

  • The video doesn't match its title at all.
  • The title and thumbnail allude to something that happens for mere seconds in the video.
  • The title has sensational phrases like, "you won't believe this" or "will make you cry," as if ALL viewers have similar emotions/reactions.
  • Dozens of comments calling the video what it is: clickbait.

Think of all the YouTube couples filming "we broke up" videos. If that's what's promised in the title and thumbnail, there should be a breakup of some kind in the video — even if it's just a prank. But if the couple spends two minutes joking about breaking up (and the video is 20 minutes long), that's a bit misleading.

Good or Bad Clickbait? That's for Your Audience to Decide

We can share what we think is good or lousy clickbait, but it's not our opinion that matters. It's truly up to your audience.

If viewers feel like you've click-baited them too often, they'll speak out. It's nothing to worry about if a few people say something. But if dozens or even hundreds of people feel the same way, you have to wonder if they're all incorrect.

Remember, you're making content for others to watch and enjoy, not yourself. So some of those opinions do matter in the long run.

How Do You Know When You've Made Good Clickbait?

Bad clickbait is easy to make, but good clickbait is a carefully crafted art form. How do you know when you've crossed over to the good side?

First, you'll get more views in general because the title and thumbnail tell a compelling story. Next, your watch time will soar because no one's been misled. And finally, you'll get more likes and positive comments thanking you for your work instead of complaining about clickbait.

In short, you'll see the signs of viewer satisfaction.

Want more examples of good clickbait? The video below has more success stories.

Regardless of how you feel about clickbait, you need good titles and thumbnails to grow your channel. So here are two resources to help you out:

  1. YouTube thumbnail guide for boosting clicks
  2. YouTube title guide for grabbing viewers' attention