It’s almost an embarrassing topic to bring up; like the kid who sits in the back of the class picking his nose. A bit of a disgusting analogy, yes, but when bringing up “Click Baiting”, you need a strong metaphor to prepare your stomach. It’s a practice we all recognize as reviling, but we see it being used in an ever increasing manor, haunting our Facebook feeds and endlessly tormenting us to click. And we do, don’t we, because we have to find out.
And that’s the dirty secret of Click Baiting: it’s horrible, it’s gross, nobody likes it, but most of all it works. The internet has done a fantastic job of connecting everyone, giving people the world over a single stage to express themselves and share their own precious nugget of knowledge. And this sounds great, in principle, but it does bring with it a dilemma, one that I’m sure you’re already aware of, one that your shouting at your monitor as you read this right now: if everyone is performing on the same stage, how can you focus on Hamlet when King Richard the Third is constantly vying for your attention at the same time?
It’s not an exaggeration to say that there are hundreds of millions of blogs, and if your writing on a common or popular subject, then chances are, your field is probably pretty crowded. So how do you get your readers attention? The same way an unruly child gets the attention of his distracted parent: by screaming obscenities at the top of his lungs. It may not be pretty, but it gets the job done.
But is this what we want to be? Shouldn’t our content speak for itself? I can see all of you vigorously shaking your heads and saying: “no, not since I put on my big-boy pants”. And I agree with you, at least in theory. Especially for us “professional” type organizations, we want to win the day with dignity; if we sit patiently long enough, do our homework and bring home that strait A report card, there will be ice-cream all around. And then little Jimmy, the booger-eater from the beginning of this article, shows up and starts punching himself in the groin, and before you know it, everyone’s forgotten all about your big egghead, and that giant Sundae you were about to dive into is being used as an ice-pack for the little ball-puncher. So what are we to do?
1. Use fun images in your social media campaign. It’s so tempting isn’t it. You’ve just written about the proper way to drink your afternoon tea in your board meeting, and you brows the web for a polite image of happy people in shirts and ties sitting around a table with dead eyes and a grin that makes you wonder when their lobotomies were. And those images are fine, they certainly won’t offend anybody, but you know what else they won’t do? They won’t excite anyone. You have to find an image that grabs your readers attention. And if you don’t want to go with anything racy, then I’ve been told that people love pictures of cats making funny faces.
2. Add a dash of Tabasco to your headline. This can be done in a few ways; if you have someone on your staff who moonlights as a stand-up comic, maybe have them wright in a joke, after all, who doesn’t like to laugh? If Everyone on your staff has the since of humor of an octogenarian with a propensity for the vapors, then lead with a tantalizing question. Remember, your goal in social media marketing is to grab attention.
3. Be genuine. Once you’ve got a reader to your site, you want them to read your content. If you come across as too “salesman-y” or too “dry”, all you’ve accomplished is providing an alternative to sleep-aids. You don’t have to be Stephen King to keep your readers engaged, you just have to be you. Show some personality, talk about yourself. If you want to have an engaged audience and have them open up to you on your forum, then you have to make the first step and open up to them.
I know that none of us like the idea of becoming “Click Baitors”; after all, shouldn’t the content speak for itself? Yes, in a perfect world. But in a perfect world, we’d all be served lobster on plates of gold. I know that most of you reading this have good content, but what good is it doing if no one is reading it? Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. Or in the case of the internet, you have to fight fire with adorable pictures of kittens.
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