I’ll admit it. I used to be lured in by clickbait articles. My curiosity just had to know the top 8 reasons why I should be drinking more coffee. Or less coffee. Or no coffee at all. Or why coffee is better for you than strychnine. (I’m exaggerating, of course, on that last one. At least I hope so.)
As I scan down my Twitter feed day after day, it’s becoming strikingly obvious that content listing the “top 10 ways to do this” or the “7 reasons you should do that” have become tired, annoying and even obtrusive. Their allure isn’t there for me anymore. I’ve grown numb.
Alas, it seems like upwards of 10 percent of all Twitter posts promise a quick-fix to everything that ails you in (insert number here) easy steps.
Why has content like this fallen out of favor with me? Here are my 5 shocking reasons.
- They’re often too general to be useful – In the attempt to cultivate as many clicks as possible, the content needs to appeal to as many people as possible, regardless of whether you’re a junior PR person or a CMO. Quantity (of clicks) over quality (of content) is prized. The content’s raison d’etre is to get you to click, not to inform you, which in itself is distasteful.
- The claims are exaggerated – Clickbait content invariably promises transformation in a handful of silver bullet steps. If only life were that easy. Part of the enticement is that you’ll find that simple solution that somehow has been overlooked for weeks, months or years. But how often have you found it? Yep.
- The content is obvious – One of the reasons clickbait articles originally appealed to me is because I felt good that I already knew most of the content. It validated my body of knowledge. That lasted a couple of months. Then I realized that I wasn’t going to learn anything if I invested the time in reading. So why bother? I don’t need to make myself feel good. I need to make myself more informed.
- The content is devoid of any emotion, story or soul – Where’s the inspiration? Where’s something that will move me? Clickbait articles are the Doritos of the social media world – loaded with artificial flavor with no nutritional value whatsoever. Content that gets me thinking deeply about my clients, my life, my world – that’s what wins me over.
- It’s ubiquitous – Nothing fosters ambivalence more than repetitiveness. Seriously, how many social media tricks are out there, people? Yet my Twitter feed promotes something “new” every 30 minutes – often from the same individuals. Yes, metrics are telling us that clickthrough rates are higher for posts like this – for now. But hey will fall as people continue to realize the hollow promises on the other side.
Will clickbait articles ever go away? Hardly. The banner ad has been around 25 years and it’s still hanging in there quite strongly. But like the banner ad, the effectiveness of clickbait will gradually subside. It’s my hope that it gets supplanted with substantive content that will actually inform me, contribute the conversation and cause readers to think, interact and add to the conversation.
I’m committed to do my part — now that this article is done, of course. How about you?