Have you scrolled through your facebook feed and been enticed to clicking on a post that read, “She starts to peel an onion, and I can’t believe what happens next!” Or have been duped into reading about, “The 10 best ways to sit in your chair.” Or is it that you’ve been forced to feel like less than human because, “You’ve been opening bananas wrong“…your entire life.
Of course you have. We all have. That is what these headlines are designed to do: use hyperbole as a way to make you click and read their content, otherwise known as “click-baiting.” These click-baiting tactics work because they play on our human needs and desires to either (1) fill a knowledge gap that is supposedly expected of us (2) fit-in with what others see as fun and exciting (3) or compare our own lives to the “best ways” we’re supposed to live.
The Problem with the Click-Baiting Headline
The inevitable problem that comes with the hyperbolic, click-baiting headline is that soon everybody (or pretty darn close to everybody) will be using them. So if everything is the greatest, the best or totally unbelievable, then nothing is great, or good, or unbelievable.
Readers will realize this, and readers (your readers) will stop clicking. There are only so many articles that can tell you “The 10 best ways to peel an onion” that eventually you’ll realize that either, if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all, or, that after reading 10 articles with the same hyperbolic headline discover that there are in fact 100 ways to peel an onion, removing all credibility to the original headline that led you down this sorry path.
Another problem with the hyperbolic, click-baiting headline is that usually the content is derived from the headline, and not the other way around. It is my experience that the most useful and interesting articles are centered around an idea and a message that is useful and interesting. Something that the author, and you, and I are (or could be) passionate about.
Which brings me to the bottom line…
The Bottom Line about getting people to view your content
You may be wondering by now, “Is this guy really passionate about click-baiting headlines? Why’s he writing about this?” The “bottom-line” answer is NO. But I could be. I spend a more than insignificant amount of time thinking about these hyperbolic headlines as I’m scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed or twittering through my tweet timeline, because they’re appearing more and more often.
So, there-in lies a possible solution to this problem of hyperbolic proportions. This is an issue that I have been thinking about, something that I could conceivable be passionate about, so what do I do? I research the subject and find articles written about it to quell my thirst for an answer. I clicked on content whose headlines either asked the same question or provided just enough of an answer to entice me to read more of their article so that I could learn more.
At the end of the day, what most readers will continually want are answers, or more specifically (or less specifically, I can’t tell) quality content that speaks to them on a personal or professional level.
My Conclusion and Take-Away
Quality content will always count more towards helping you accomplish your blogging goals than baiting readers into reading less than stellar content. After all, click-baiting tactics are used to drive traffic, and they work. But if your content falls short, you will definitely be driving a wedge between you and your readers/customers.
It is definitely time to start thinking of new creative ways to entice readers to click on your article. But it has to start from quality content, that can become trusted content making you a thought leader in your industry. Sure creating content from an SEO mind-set is great now, but it probably won’t last. Create unique content that has something to offer to your readers. You can be the go-to blog for answers in your industry. But it all starts by questioning your readers’ behavior with insight from your own behavior. But that’s a discussion for another day…