Even for those who aren’t familiar with the term “clickbait,” it’s something that is widely known and seen every day. Anybody who takes part in social media, Facebook being the most notable, should know what it is. An example of “clickbaiting” is when a website, such as King 5 news, posts a link on their Facebook page with a headline of a very heartbreaking or controversial story, luring audiences to their website. From there, most individuals will read the story and start reading other stories that are featured on the site. Much to the site owner’s pleasure, it’s even better if readers click on ads shown on the website. Clickbaiting is a way to get people to generate Web traffic, to get more people interested in the site, and to generate more revenue for advertising money. To describe it in one word is easy: genius.
To be quite honest, I fall for clickbait a few times a day. (Saying “a few times” is probably underestimating the real number). Facebook is up there with one of my least favorite social media sites because of all the pages I “liked” back in 2009. I was a freshman in high school, and stupid, so I thought that “liking” things was cool. Now, my timeline is ridden with spam and junk, making it a hassle to even try to look through and read the things I actually care about. Clickbait links have broken up the spam and stupidity that my past “liked” pages have brought to my timeline, so nine times out of 10 I will follow the link if the headline is even the least bit interesting.
When I think about it though, I don’t think clickbait is a bad thing at all. It’s making money for somebody out there and generating more money and income for businesses and individuals. Not only that, but some clickbait links have actually led me to stories that I’ve ended up following and feeling really passionate about. For example, last week, Facebook clickbait on King 5 is the reason why I found out about two very sad stories: a mother throwing her autistic son off of a bridge and a set of parents beating their three-year-old boy to death. Those stories aren’t in the least bit cheery or informative, but I feel like those were stories that more people should have read.
Aside from clickbait leading readers to local and national news stories, it also tends to lead people to really entertaining stories. It’s pretty much guaranteed that I will follow any BuzzFeed clickbait that is thrown onto my timeline. I mean, come on: Who doesn’t want to know the 10 things guys secretly love about girls?
While clickbait may seem annoying and repetitive to some, in the end it generates money for something out there and brings entertaining reading material to the table. Not only that, but if marketed a little bit better, clickbait could be used to get people to actually start reading more about things going on in their community, government and world. The future of clickbaiting could be a beautiful thing.