Tag Archives: content

4 Clickbait Questions You Were Afraid to Ask—The Answers May Surprise You!

ClickbaitWe’ve all heard whispering and grumbling about the proliferation of clickbait, those irresistible, attention-grabbing headlines that have become an inescapable part of the social media landscape. But where do you draw the line between marketing and something more sinister? Should clickbait-y concepts be a part of your own strategy? We know you’re curious—let’s get right to the answers!

What is Clickbait?

Coined a few years back, “clickbait” is a pejorative term for curiosity-inducing headlines designed to generate as many clicks and shares as possible on social media channels. You know it when you see it—web sites like Upworthy and BuzzFeed made their names with shareable headlines like “What’s One of the Worst Ways to Motivate Someone? Hint: You See It All the Time.

Titles like these beg the reader to click through to reveal the answer or to uncover the supposedly shocking twist. Most of these sites take the bait a step further by suggesting that you share their content, generating likes and conversations on social platforms in the process.

Is Clickbait Actually Effective?

There hasn’t been a lot of empirical research done regarding the efficacy of clickbait-style headlines, but the evidence speaks for itself. In November 2013, Upworthy was outpacing CNN.com with twice their total social shares, even though CNN had twenty-six times the amount of actual content.

Take one look at your own Facebook news feed and you’ll likely spot dozens of shared articles; unsurprisingly, the majority of them have headlines that make you want to cringe and click through all at once. All of the evidence suggests the same thing: clickbait is working, and it’s here to stay.

What’s Wrong with Clickbait?

Detractors have pointed to an influx of low-quality, sloppy content on the other side of the click; some critics have even called clickbait unethical. After all, if the content is good and they’re telling the truth, why do the authors have to “bait” you into viewing it?

Of course, there’s always another side to the story. Content generators must seek out new and novel ways of driving readers to their sites—their business model depends on it. At the end of the day, no one is forcing users to share, click, or “like” anything. It’s an organic process, often more of an art than a science, and the best writers at Upworthy have discovered effective methods of funneling users toward their articles—what’s wrong with that?

Should I Be Writing Clickbait-y Headlines?

There’s no catchall answer. Rather, the strategies you utilize should derive organically from the content itself. As Neil St. Clair, writing for Forbes Magazine, puts it, “[clickbait as a marketing tactic is] neither right nor wrong; it’s simply a matter of your business model and audience.” An austere, self-serious publication like The New York Times doesn’t rely on sensational headlines because it doesn’t mesh with their identity; likewise, the fun-loving BuzzFeed depends on clicks and shares to survive, and they have no qualms about using headlines that have been proven to succeed.

There you have it: clickbait-inspired titles are everywhere you look in today’s online world, and this particular trend shows no signs of slowing down. Content generators continue to value these headlines because they’ve been effective at grabbing social media readers’ attention in the past.

But that doesn’t mean you have to use them yourself just to keep up—that will depend on your own unique goals. Sometimes just knowing what you’re up against is the best place to start.

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How Smelly Is Your Design?

In the world of design we’re brought up to understand there are certain rules to follow when laying out a piece. Guidelines exist to help designs resonate with our intended audiences. For example, in photography the “rule of thirds” teaches us to divide our shots into a grid format and place our subjects in any of the nine sections—none of which is dead center. The phrase “form follows function” is another example that’s been around for a century. It reminds us that an object should be designed considering its function first and that this will determine its form.

A poor creative team, on the other hand, may spend hours deliberating about the appropriate message for a direct mail envelope. In reality, it’s the shape of the piece and the color of the design that humans connect with first. Content always comes later.

These rules exist because they’ve been tested over the years. Through the use of eye-tracking technology and decades of focus groups, we’re able to say with certainty where eyeballs go when they look at design.

But what if we did more than just followed the rules of design visually? What if we triggered other senses beyond sight? What about taste? What about smell? We’ve been to the grocery store enough times to know that giving away food samples is one of the most ingenious forms of marketing. From the sizzle of the frying pan and the smell that fills the aisles to the moment you take that tiny toothpick and take a bite––you’d swear you’ve never eaten such good sausages.

Well, that full-blown experience is a marketer’s dream. There isn’t a limb on an advertiser’s body that he or she wouldn’t give up to utilize scent in an ad campaign. The limbic connection between smell and memory is the perfect recipe for all things nostalgia. Freshly mowed lawns, our mother’s baking, and even the smell of Play-Doh all have the potential to elicit something deep within us.

It doesn’t look like Smell-O-Vision will be put to practical use anytime soon. It does seem, however, that a team out of Belgium has figured out how to express both scent and taste using stamps. The Belgian post office, known as Bpost, has produced more than 500,000 smellable/edible stamps celebrating Belgium’s world-famous chocolates and chocolatiers.

While it’ll be a bit before I see myself licking an already-licked stamp, I can’t deny how effective it might be in triggering those chocolate-driven memories stored deep inside me.

The Belgians are breaking the rules—those zany rebels! What else can we come up with to more effectively reach our consumers?

To learn about how those chocolate stamps are made, check out this video: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21388234

Author: Eric Swenson