The Dreaded Clickbait
February 2, 2018
“They did what?!”
“You won’t believe what happens next!”
“Remember so and so? You’ll be shocked when you see what they look like now!”
Sound familiar? Lately, it seems like we’re constantly being bombarded by social media posts that are practically begging to be clicked. From entertainment pages to even some news outlets- the world of social media these days is full of clickbait. You know what I’m talking about. A purposefully vague post with a short headline like the ones above trying to grab your attention so you’ll click on it. Let’s face it – we’re all guilty of clicking on at least one of these types of posts at some point. If your experience has been anything like mine has, you’re soon taken to a website like Buzzfeed, Knowable, BoredPanda (the list goes on), only to be presented with a webpage cluttered with ads, pop-ups, and one (yes, one) image with a Next button to take you through a just-as-cluttered slideshow of ads and pop-ups. If you’re on a mobile device as most internet users are these days, the experience gets worse. You may even get a notification saying your phone has been infected with a virus, or “you’ve been randomly chosen to win a gift card!”. I don’t know about you, but one bad experience like this, and I’ve learned my lesson. I’m out. And I’m not going to click on posts like that again.
You may be reading this and saying “but it worked – you clicked on it and went to their website, so in the end, it worked”. Not necessarily. Sure, I clicked on a post link, saw the disaster ahead waiting for me, and ducked out before any damage could be done, but I know moving forward not to do something like that. Keep in mind that these types of posts are being shown to social media users every day. Probably every hour (or even every minute if you’re on social media enough throughout the day). I’ve stopped clicking and now read the comments section. The next time you’re on social media and see a post like this, look at the comments section. What are people saying? Chances are, you’ll either see someone copying and pasting the answer to the question that sucked people in “they did what?!” to save the rest of us from navigating through a terribly designed, ad-ridden website, or someone calling it out for what it is – clickbait.
People aren’t dumb. And social media isn’t going anywhere. But it has to evolve in order to keep users engaged. Sure, this model of “baiting” users in to engagement has worked for some time, but like any other marketing angle, people either become numb to the whole thing, or wise enough to know it’s a ploy to get them to click. Be smart about getting your followers to engage. Don't use clickbait.
I wrote this blog post back in December. Just recently, Facebook announced that it would be modifying its algorithms to change the way posts appear in yours News Feed, including ways of reducing clickbait-type posts, as well as what they refer to as “junk food”. Want to learn more? Stay tuned for my next blog post.