How Readers Create (and Can Destroy) Click Bait

First, thank you for coming to my site, and (hopefully) reading this. That is part of the whole “destroying click bait” idea that will be explained fully later.

As someone who obviously reads at least some things on the internet, you already should understand that the goal of most sites is to make money. There is an entire cottage industry full of gurus who will supposedly teach people how to get rich by posting “something” on their own webpage or blog. That’s not getting into the “digital Madison Avenue” industry that does the same thing for people who already have some money to spend on getting and promoting content.

One thing that all of these professionals have in common is that they promise to get plenty of readers – people like you – to click on links leading to the sites owned by people like me. That usually means playing on your emotions one way or another – something that advertisers have been doing for generations now. Now, that includes the use of click bait. We see it all the time in the margins, and on social media. If anyone claims that they’ve never been drawn in by it, they’re probably lying. (Even I have given in a few times.)

We all know that click bait just leads to low information “stuff” that was sold to us with an exciting headline. The content itself rarely lives up the hype, of course. It’s trickery, and it makes companies a lot of money every day, because we – as readers – just can’t resist. The reason it makes money for people is how the internet works when it comes to cash in advertising. Every time you visit a page, you are probably putting a penny or two in the pocket of the owner. If the owner coaxes thousands or millions of people to open their pages, those pennies add up quickly. Click bait works exceedingly well at getting a lot of people to visit a site, so it’s no wonder that site owners use that tool often. That’s why click bait was created.

So, how do you destroy it, other than resisting the urge to click on it?

It’s simple enough – become a savvy reader, and reward good content instead of sexy headlines. Or, think before you click.

Before reading this, do you remember the last time that you saw something on social media or in your inbox that you decided to read because you were genuinely interested in the information? Don’t feel bad if you can’t remember. Everyone is besieged by thousands of headlines a day.

On social media, how often do you “like” or comment based only on headlines? Facebook in particular is sly on this one. Content can have thousands of people “liking” it, but until it’s shared, that doesn’t help the content creator much. No matter what, if you don’t click on the link to actually go to the site, you’re not really helping your favorite creators. The only place “likes” matter for sites and creators is on their Facebook pages. Clicking on the content, and sharing it really helps, too.

Once you’re on a site like this one (or at any step along the way), creators can’t tell you how to help them keep offering you good stuff to read and see. It’s against the rules. We have to hope that you’re smart enough to figure it out. Of course, some of us get obvious, by putting out a “tip jar” link, or by putting up a gateway for you to shop at Amazon. But, other than that, we can’t tell you what to do to help us stay in business. (Sucks, doesn’t it?) At most, we can offer huge hints about it, without saying it – like I might be doing here.

The point here is that if a lot of people surfing the internet would start to actually read non-click-bait-content on a regular basis, share it with their friends on social media, and reward the creators for their hard work by making use of tip jars, etc., the tide could change. Click bait would eventually become less of a sure bet for content creators, so they would search for the “next big thing.” If we’re lucky, that would be providing useful content.

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