Click-bait. We all hate it, and we hate it because of what it makes us feel inside. We click that link hoping that the headline will deliver on what it says or that picture will open up a gallery of wonders. But it never does… It just fulfills instant gratification, without any kind of growth. In case you have absolutely no idea what I am referring to dear readers, I’ve set up some examples, which will follow below.
He thought he was safe. What happened next changed his world.
Number 9 is the most shocking one!
Marketing companies hate her.
What they learned was terrifying.
We already knew it, but she perfected the delivery.
This idea will make you a better reader.
Click-bait is without a doubt, the perfect example of a pejorative word. With sneering and everything.
We’ve all been there, surfing the internet from the safety of our homes while rocking our PJs with a litre of red wine, while scrolling through our preferred media of consumption (insert Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Google Reader or YouTube for starters) when we see it. A headline that just screams INSTANT GRATIFICATION. All you problems solved in one click. Knowledge, sex, fun, tears, power, miracles, etc.
But fuck that.
Click-bait doesn’t really solve any problems. In fact, it’s been designed by marketers to help generate revenue; quality and accuracy be damned. The goal is close the sale and get your curiosity past the point of intrigue but not sated enough that you can ignore the headline. And so you click. Because the thumbnail picture is conjuring feelings or the headline has a supposed spoiler in it. As I already mentioned, go anywhere on the internet and you are sure to find examples of click-bait in use.
It’s what made the website BuzzFeed so popular in the first place way back in 2006. It was originally founded as a hub for viral content, and it did a good job of bringing in users so that they would see content on its way up the social ladder, at the peak of its popularity, or content that was now overexposed and burning out fast.
With this traction the company was able to grow over the past decade and slowly become a source for internet media of all kinds, with a focus on digital media and tech. They’ve made great efforts to curate old content, deleting over four thousand articles at one point as they changed the face of their brand.
Now a website that once used click-bait of every kind to draw in traffic, instead produces their own daily content which consists of both articles and video, and has a staff of reporters, artists, and part-time contributors. Did I mention they also let their community contribute to the conversation?
Which means that they are more interested in traditional methods of publication now that they have traffic and want to have a good reputation too. Though they still click-bait. Man oh man do they still click-bait.
So why did you decide to write about Buzzfeed then timotheories?
Because I have this theory.
How convenient for me. And for you! You see dear readers, I think that click-bait is our generations version of hot topic marketing. It’s not that much of a stretch when you think about it, but have you thought about it?
That’s the real question.
You see, over the past couple of centuries in the western world, marketing as evolved just as much. We’ve gone from eras of trade, to production, to sales, to having marketing departments, to having marketing companies, to “relationship” marketing, and now we are in the middle of social/mobile marketing. This article goes into detail on it, but for our purposes I’ve included a handy little chart that D. Steven White put together.
As you can see, none of those marketing previous forms have died by any means, however, as they lost focus and became normative behaviours, creativity moved in new directions (as it always does) and communication had to go right along with it. Is click-bait the end-all-be-all answer in an era of social/mobile marketing? God no. But it is something to consider in the scheme of things, and it does have value.
So your task as an art maker, art shaker, and art breaker is to figure out all of the tools available, become an expert at marketing and move forward. But that’s something we can go into more detail on in a future post.
But what do you think? Am I missing notches on the marketing tool belt? Is click-bait not worth the time it took me to craft this sentence? Please leave some comments, subscribe to the blog, and share with your friends (artists, art enthusiasts, and humans apply)… I’m out of theories for today friends, I’ll catch you tomorrow with something timely.