3 Reasons I Hate Clickbaiting That Will (or Will Not) Shock You!
January 29, 2016
1. Blatant Lies!
It all started on a cool sunny Sunday in San Diego when the New England Patriots had just been eliminated from the playoffs and life was seemingly good. I figured I’d revel in the playoff defeat of my AFC divisional foes (Let’s Go JETS) by perusing through ESPN’s vast library of postgame coverage and analysis. Suddenly, it appeared at the bottom of my screen. The headline read, “10 Celebs Whose Kids Became Celebs Too.” Such a spammy and enticing headline that no mere mortal could resist.
Who in their right mind would click that link? I did. Maybe it was the picture of Michael B. Jordan next to basketball great and living legend, Michael Jordan. I felt the red-faced prickly feeling of ignoring the obvious. I mean, I’ve worn Air Jordan’s, watched The Wire, and most recently watched Creed. Shouldn’t this be a bit more blatant? Had I missed the connection after all these years? I quickly opened the article and scrolled through to find the matching image, but there was no section linking the two Jordans. I tore through the article to see if I had missed anything.
I quickly Googled both celebrities out of frustration to verify the connection. It turns out, Michael B. Jordan is the son of Michael Jordan. According to Wikipedia, Michael B. Jordan is the son of Michael Jordan… the caterer! And it was at this moment, I hated the art of clickbaiting. I felt foolish, hoodwinked, and bamboozled!
2. Bad First Impressions!
Why was I so upset over a single piece of content which didn’t meet my expectations? Was it because the content was simplistic and basic? No, it was more than bad content. To put it plainly, I was lied to by a deceptive image, which didn’t match examples in the article. In other words, I was upset because I was lied to.
As an SEO, I was horrified by the misleading title. We are taught to create content with a purpose. Whether it’s a guest post or onsite blog, good SEO creates relevant content that matches user intent. Often times, in the case of clickbaiting, the content doesn’t deliver or simply isn’t good. Now think about businesses using this type of content delivery system. Is this the first interaction you’d like to have with a customer?
According to Henry Ellis of EConsultancy, “sites like Buzzfeed isn’t to sell you a product or service, to push an opinion or a view. Their purpose is to generate page views, which in turn generates ad revenue.” With that said, the intent of clickbaiters isn’t to develop relationships, but to garner social engagement at all costs. For smaller businesses emulating a larger clickbait content company like Buzzfeed, you risk driving business away by providing time-wasting content.
3. Padding The Stats!
In the age of digital marketing, content is king (sometimes). Whether it’s a blog post or news article, we devour and share content amongst friends, family, and acquaintances. With Google Panda recently being included in Google’s core algorithm update, content marketing is and has been an essential strategy for online marketers and businesses. As impressions and clicks grow, marketers use quantitative data to determine a piece of content’s ROI, which also determines the value of placements and clicks.
Why does this matter? Companies like Buzzfeed make profit from clicks. Competitors are constantly pumping out subpar content, which creates a need for quick disposable content created with the sole intent of the social share. According to the Atlantic, what we see is “the repetitiveness of its style suggests a rather cynical ploy to lasso cheap attention rather than fully engage an audience hunting anything more than a dopamine rush.”
So it’s all about the money. Cheap content and a high click-through-rate are two factors that can raise bounce rates and drive away traffic. With the larger content companies garnering so many social views, it may seem like a great idea to click bait. Remember, with different business models come different goals. So that clickbait piece you put together may do more harm than good!