Once upon a time, I decided to sit down and write a blog post. The bad thing was, I had absolutely no ideas. I stared at a blank screen for a long time. Then I checked Twitter to see what was currently trending. I noticed that Drew Carey, Moby, and Ice T were all trending and frankly, the idea of these three trending was exhausting and made me question what year it was. So I chose not to blog about those guys.
But I still needed to write something.
Then, I started considering the concept of clickbait. When I tell you about the dumb stuff I’ve clicked on – well, it makes me pretty much just like anyone else who has spent time on the internet. My favorite bit of clickbait was an article with the headline “Man Wakes Up To This – What He Did Next Will Blow Your Mind.” It was a slide show about a man who woke up and discovered his neighbor had built a wall in the middle of his driveway due to a property line dispute. “What Happened Next” was that the neighbors ended up in court, and the wall removed. My mind wasn’t exactly blown, but the website got a good 20 clicks from me on that series of photos. Somebody made a bunch of that good, good internet coin.
So, what is clickbait?
Clickbait preys on the idea that the author gives you just enough information to know what the topic is, but not enough information to satisfy any curiosity. To meet that curiosity, you have to click on the article or blog post -and that’s when they get you.
It would be one thing if the clickbait ever paid off, but it usually doesn’t. “The One Easy Way To Keep Your Lawn Short! You Have To See It To Believe It!” always turns out to be “mow it.”
Clickbait appeals to your innate curiosity about yourself and the world. Emotions (“You’ll Be Outraged When You See What Happened To This Father”), a challenge to your IQ (“Only People With an IQ Above 180 Can Answer This One Weird Question. Can You Do It?”), hacks (“5 Easy Hacks To Make Women Find You Irresistible”), fear (“Doing This One Thing Will Make You A Target For Murderous Cats”).
The bigger question is, WHY do websites and blogs use clickbait? It’s usually dishonest, or at least not as ASTONISHING, AMAZING and MIND BLOWING as we always hope it is. The answer is easy.
They use clickbait because clickbait works.
You’re here, aren’t you?