Swapping Clicks for Content: The Rise of Clickbait

It’s everywhere these days. You can’t frequent one website without seeing it at the bottom of the page or on a sidebar. It may seem harmless. It may even seem amusing, but it’s not. It’s dangerous. It wants to steal your identity, and it wants to be known that you saw it. We’re talking about clickbait.

clickbait-examplesOkay, so it’s not exactly dangerous.

It’s not going to steal your social security number (unless you give it out like candy on Halloween) right from under your nose. All it really wants to do is acquire your email address and add you to its list of growing subscribers. But why?
In the world of digital marketing, it can be really hard to quantify ROI (return on investment). At first the only means was waiting until the end of the quarter, and seeing if the final numbers were in the red or black. “Hey! Sales are up. Good,” or “Sales are down. You’re fired.” That was it.

clickbait-shark However, businesses deemed this unsatisfactory. To run a marketing campaign and wait until the end to understand its effectiveness is quite…ineffective. So, marketers came up with a means to gauge its success before, during, and after the campaign. And what were these new metrics? They became your standard click, email subscriber, YouTube view, Facebook like, Twitter retweet, etc., etc. Marketers and businesses alike realized there needed to be more tangible indicators than dollars and cent signs at the end of the campaign. The more users who interacted with your digital assets, the more successful the ad campaign was. Simple. Right?

Well, it was, until both businesses and marketers alike became obsessed with the metrics as opposed to the results. The strange thing is, even if you get the clicks and the likes, that still doesn’t mean you’ve created the world’s greatest campaign. And this goes for both businesses and marketing firms. As a marketer you can’t say, “Wow, this photo we designed got 1,000 likes on Facebook. Where’s our deal with Nike, now?” It doesn’t work that way. The same way, as a business owner, you can’t say, “Hey, this article got over 1,000 shares. Can’t wait to open 10 more stores all across the country.” Genuine customers can’t be acquired through trickery by making them click on things. They need to be inspired.

This is where the age old question of “Content or Clicks?” comes into play.

clickbait-starwarsThe real answer is both. To quote the mysterious voice from the movie Field of Dreams: “If you build it, he will come.” In lemans terms, if you produce good content the rest will come. There are entire businesses who don’t want you to think like this. Paid-Per-Click companies think that if you can simply load up blog posts with SEO and catchy headlines, your business will be booming. That being said, what they don’t tell you is you’re essentially paying them to get you clicks. And that’s it. If clicks keep going up and up and up, they’re doing their job and nothing else matters. And that’s wrong. Results matter. Not the basic metrics that lead to results.

Also, you owe it yourself and your customers to produce good content. They look upon your business as someone or something they can trust. Don’t turn them into another benchmark. Don’t negate them as a means to gain another click on your company blog. They mean so much more to you than that, just like the content you produce. It’s a reflection of your own business. You don’t want to be caught taking the shortcuts.

Joseph Sawa
Eric Kubicek is a Copywriter and Social Media Marketer at Inertia. Avid concert goer, maker of memes, and has the ability to suggest the perfect song for you. Connect with him on Linkedin.