Nope, we’re not love counselors. We’re not here to tell you how to find your next date, plan the perfect date, or quit dating and start living. But, do we have your attention?
Dating is a lot like growing a business, it’s not just you! In today’s world of digital marketing, a flourishing business means you’re paying attention to your audience engagement: how to get it, grow it, and maintain it. Clickbait, such as the post that brought you here, can be a clever marketing tool used to achieve this goal when formatted properly. (See where we’re going now?)
Clickbait’s most simple definition is a link that entices you to click on it. However, there is some confusion as to what falls under the clickbait category. As Mediaite explains, “All clickbait is stupid and a waste of your time, but not everything that is stupid and a waste of your time is clickbait.” What separates a clever marketing tactic and engaging title from clickbait? Dishonesty. This is when companies ask themselves if they are appealing to their reader’s emotions and curiosity or insulting their intelligence. What you’re clicking on could be authentic and informative but chances are it’s one of these three styles: Bait & Switch, Bait & Sign, or Bait & Swear.
Bait & Switch
This blog is the perfect example of this style of clickbait. You came here with the intention of reading about your next big date night but instead we’re teaching you about clickbait. We’ve “switched out” the true topic in the headline with one we thought would be more likely to grab your attention and entice you to click the link.
This style can have a very powerful impact with readers. While you didn’t deliver what they thought they were looking for you have the opportunity to offer something else just as valuable.
Bait & Sign
Most articles online list advertisements along with their content. If you’re like us, you’ve occasionally found yourself clicking on these advertisements without realizing it. Imagine, while reading about the 5 best ways for entrepreneurs to de-stress (number 1 being to take a vacation), you mindlessly click on the ad for two round-trip tickets to Hawaii. This is another form of clickbait and they just got you!
The article you’re reading and the service or product you’re purchasing are loosely connected yet it’s not truly your motivation for clicking the initial link. This style of clickbait can be very impactful by leaving the reader with a feeling of accomplishment.
Bait & Swear
“The Last Travel Mug You’ll Ever Need To Buy”
“You Never Knew This Was the Best Way To Open A Banana”
“The Celebrities You Never Knew Had Plastic Surgery (You Won’t Believe #3)”
This is one style we’re all used to seeing. These are the headlines we know in our hearts cannot be true or do not apply to us yet we are intrigued anyway. The more outrageous the “promise” the more likely we are to click it. As TBS Magazine states, “to click is human.” We might already have a favorite travel mug or know how to open a banana but the possibility that there is further information that we lack causes us to click. Carnegie Mellon professor George Loewenstein believes that we experience physical emotional responses when we realize there is a difference between what we want to know and what we already know. This is called the Information Gap Theory. As Wired further explains, “not knowing is cognitively uncomfortable.”
While these are some main examples, there are many factors that play a part in whether or not a headline can be considered clickbait. This can include opinions between people being different, individuals changing their own opinions, and differing emotional responses. All in all, clickbait is dishonest honesty. You’re being manipulated but you also know it’s happening. Keep in mind, just because something seems intriguing, silly, irrelevant, or impossible doesn’t mean it is clickbait. You’re not wasting your time reading “6 Dog Treats You’ll Never Buy Again” or taking the “Which Wild Animal Are You” quiz. Who knows what it could inspire in you!