Clickbait

I am sick of the clickbait mentality. You know what I’m talking about. Many of the articles you see in your Facebook news feed are one example: “The Dog Ate My Homework And You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!!”. I’ll admit that Facebook is getting better about having their algorithm eliminate a lot of the most egregious offenders, but there are plenty of other sites out there whose entire business model is predicated on getting some sap to click through and then to page through a slide show or a multipage article.

What really bothers me is that the mentality is spreading. The teases for upcoming stories in news programming seem to be more clickbaity (did I just make up a word?) in nature. They’re called “teases” for a reason – to get you to stay tuned through the commercial by teasing you with upcoming content. They’ve changed, though. When a news anchor ends a tease with the Upworthy phrase “and you won’t believe what happened next”, I cringe. There’s a business lesson in the reason why, even if you’re not in the content business.

Poynter interviewed Nilay Patel of Vox about the subject:

“Most clickbait is disappointing because it’s a promise of value that isn’t met — the payoff isn’t nearly as good as what the reader imagines,” Patel said.

None of us in business should be making promises to our customers what we can’t keep.  Doing so repeatedly is a recipe for disaster.  Maybe that’s what you’re after, but I don’t think so.  Our desire for traffic, clicks, engagement, whatever can’t supersede the value we deliver to our customers.  I get that in some businesses, the user isn’t the customer, but they are the basis for what you’re ultimately selling, so alienating them makes no sense at all.

We develop and keep customers n the basis of promises made and value delivered.  I think clickbait is, most of the time, the very opposite of that.  You?

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