Nowadays, it's an uphill battle trying to get views on content you slave over for days, attempting to be a voice heard above a sea of screaming others and standing out from the crowd for great content alone is more difficult than ever. Understandably, the gloves have had to come off a little and more creators are resorting to attention grabbing titles that spark interest from the word go, despite them being about as true as the red banners splashed across the tabloids. This my friends, is what we like to call CLICKBAIT. Conjuring up block capital titles for your videos, blogs, podcasts that are so juicy, so dramatic, no-one could resist clicking through only to be met with a read or watch so far from what they had initially expected. Why are people actively deceiving their followers and telling lies in a world that so values transparent authenticity? Well, for the simple fact that it works! But like all quick fixes, this is one thing that is definitely too good to be true and comes with a big list of side affects. Here's why I think clickbait works but we should think twice before using it...
1. Undermines Credibility
This is a big one and something any platform looking to be a source of information should deeply consider. Essentially what you're doing when you send out a clickbait headline is lying. There's no other way to sugar coat it, you're misleading an audience into thinking something detrimental is happening or some huge scandal is about to break when really all they're getting is your latest blog on whatever it is that's tickled your fancy that week. If you're looking to become a source of informative content, this will never work out for you in the long run. Sure, initially clickbait titles will have your engagement rates through the roof but they'll also earn you a reputation as being false advertisers, a phoney page and a site not to be trusted for sharing accurate information.
2. Content Fatigue
As the saying goes, "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." Clickbait is a trick that will get real old, real fast in the eyes of your audience. No one likes to be constantly mislead and disappointed by what they receive for their clickthrough investment and eventually they'll get tired of seeing your profile pop up on their feed. You'll generate an eye-roll effect every time you post something new, which will ultimately lead to people ignoring your content rather than clicking through to it as they know they won't be getting what they signed up for.
3. Feeding Fake News Culture
Already an issue in mainstream media, the last thing you want to be doing is adding fuel to the fire. Falsely advertising content, especially informative in nature or newsworthy, is nurturing the concept of fake news. Sites and news outlets exist to help people stay informed with current affairs and to hold power to account. If we keep pushing lies in order to generate views, this undermines the system entirely and jeopardises the media industry's value. Journalist's rank over but seriously, let's not add to the problem for a boost in engagement, however fleetingly effective it may be at times.
4. Cheap and Not So Cheerful
Plaguing newsfeeds with misleading captions and titles is just distasteful for want of a better phrase. You are better than it and if you want your content to have a real impact and for people to eventually buy into it, you need to leave the dirty tactics behind and just be honest. What you're putting out there should be valuable enough on its own without having to make out that it's about something else entirely to grab people's attention. Work on ensuring everything you post is of some value to your audience, spend less time thinking up extravagant, wildly inaccurate titles and you'll be much better off in the long run - trust me!
5. Destroys Personal Branding
If you're someone looking to use content as a way to build a personal brand, you can forget using clickbait as a way to do it. The whole ideology behind create a personal touchpoint behind a business, is to promote transparency, authenticity and put simply, to make people like the person who's behind their favourite products. If you constantly sell them lies in terms of what you want them to consume online then why would they ever believe anything you say when it comes to ask them to take action to help you. You can't trick people into consuming your content and then ask them to support you as a person - all you have to think about is if the shoe was on the other foot would you back a person that distorts the truth in order to get views?
So there you have it, reasons why I agree clickbait does work but we should consider the longterm consequences of employing it as strategy before using it.
Let me know what you think in the comments below...