Really, the title of this blog post should have been “He Clicked a Link that Looked Interesting. What Happened Next Will Shock You!” Or something similar.
Clickbait titles have been around for quite a while. You’ve seen them all over the place, even if you didn’t realize they had a name. I’ve written some myself right here in this very blogosphere type area.
A few examples of clickbait titles:
One Simple Trick Can Increase Your IQ By 24 Points
Baby Crawls For the First Time Towards Her Dog, What Happened Next Will Blow Your Mind!
Five Ways to Get Us to Hire You as a Web Developer (Or a Rodeo Clown)
Most clickbait articles rely heavily on imagery and/or video. The amount of content will actually be very small. Clickbait sites aren’t interested in getting you to remain on their site. They are generating page views, which turns into money for them via ad revenue.
Love them or hate them (or be filled to the brim with an apathetic malaise for them), headlines that are specifically engineered to make the viewer click for more are not going away anytime soon, despite a recent upsurge in backlash against them. Interestingly, Facebook has been implementing various methods to reduce the number of clickbait articles in our newsfeeds – “A small set of publishers who are frequently posting links with click-bait headlines that many people don’t spend time reading after they click through may see their distribution decrease in the next few months. We’re making these changes to ensure that click-bait content does not drown out the things that people really want to see on Facebook.”
I’m not sure if it’s working – have you seen a drastic downturn in the number of UpWorthy or Buzzfeed links in your feed?
So, if clickbait articles aren’t going away, maybe it’s time to have some fun with them. Webcomic xkcd did so in a recent strip: http://xkcd.com/1283/.
Here’s a few places that are taking a poke at clickbait “journalism”. Enjoy!
(Some of the links may include material that is Not Safe For Work. Or Children. Or Adults.)
http://buzzfeedminusgifs.tumblr.com/ – This tumblr page really highlights how low in content a lot of Buzzfeed articles are. The author simply strips the content of a Buzzfeed article down to just the text posted, removing any images. I think my personal favorite is the one about candy corn:
“Why Candy Corn Is Actually Awesome – Some people would have you believe that candy corn is disgusting. But they are so, SO wrong. Candy corn has always been there for you. Its flavor is unmatched. It’s ombré candy. OMBRÉ. <3 U, CANDY CORN.”
http://www.upworthygenerator.com/ – This site generates random headlines in the style of Upworthy. Some random winners it churned up for me:
“Before You Say We’re Winning The War On Terror, Listen To These Five Nouns From A Cheerleader.”
“I Thought It Was An Inescapable Curse. But Then I Saw This Hilarious Twenty Second Video.”
“Listen To These Six Words And Try To Tell Me Babies Can’t Be Racist.”
I think I’d actually click on that last one.
https://twitter.com/UpworthySpoiler – This Twitter feed reads the clickbait articles for you, then tweets the answer to the clickbait question, followed by the question. Here, just look, its easier than explaining:
“donate it to soup kitchens RT@Upworthy: That ton of food your schools throw away? How about doing this instead?”
http://www.clickhole.com/ – Even the title of this site is a not-so-subtle nod to the nature of clickbait websites – get someone to your site, then show them a lot of other stories with clickbait titles that might interest them, and get them to give you hundreds of clicks. On the front page the day I wrote this?
“5 Child Stars Who Grew Up To Be Acclaimed Novelist Salman Rushdie”
So, what do you think? Would you have been more likely to click and read this article if we’d used a clickbait format?
Kalvin Kingsley entered the world on the same day Richard Nixon was elected to his second term. What else they have in common may amaze you! (Pretty much nothing. Not really amazing I guess.)