This delightful Epic News video by Peter and Chris (two Irish gentlemen with sharp wit) deconstructs the nature of clickbait to make it easy to recognize. The video is irreverent and lowbrow, but spot on and hilarious. Watch at your own risk.
For those who want the executive summary:
You usually see a highly-sensational title that completely misrepresents and oversells whatever content there may or may not be.
Take a headline like “19 Reasons Why Young Marlon Brando Will Ruin You For The Rest of the Day.”
What do these headlines even mean?
What follows is a summary of how to generate successful clickbait:
- Don’t waste your time generating original content.
- Spend your day lurking on link aggregator sites such as reddit and repackaging other people’s stuff to get maximum shares on social media.
- Add a ridiculous claim about something that will happen provided you CLICK
1) Take a simple video of a homeless man playing a tin whistle for his dog.
This homeless man’s music (will change your life) / (will restore your faith in humanity) / (will make your jaw drop) / (will shock you)
2) If possible crowbar in gender, race, or social issues to make it more provocative:
This blind homeless man’s amazing music for his terminally-ill (gay) dog will restore your faith in humanity.
3) Remove as much descriptive information as possible from your headline to create what the industry calls “a curiosity gap.” Replace it with Hyperbole. If the reader can tell what the story is about at a glance, you’ve FAILED!
Wow! A Blind, Homeless man Befriended an Old Adorable Lost Dog, and What Happened Next Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity.
4) If possible, turn it into a bogus list somehow. Use age and target demographics for greater impact.
16 reasons why only 90s Kids from England will Keep Calm and Carry On While Understanding Why This Blind Homeless Man and His Full-Blown Dog-AIDS-Infested Best Friend Will Restore your Faith in Humanity and Change Your Life (Forever).
5) Add a hashtag
If you need good examples of clickbait, toddle over to ClickHole, the Onion’s (semi)-parody website originally designed as a sharp stick in the eye to BuzzFeed and Upworthy, but now taking on all the media without discrimination.
As the presenters say, there’s a place for this kind of bulldust tabloid journalism, because enquiring minds want to know. The problem arises when so-called “real news” outlets try this stuff and are deadly serious about it.
Now I need to confess that I often scan media outlets and reddit and other sources for things I consider interesting or worthwhile or socially relevant, and share them with my social circles. However, I don’t think I’ve ever asked anyone to “like and share” anything. I’m not a like farmer, it’s a poor way to make money.
The Old Wolf Has Published a Blog Post Accessible from Almost Anywhere in the World, and Reading It Will Change Your Life Forever! #Monsanto