Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ohio University Online Communications Student Writes Shocking Blog Post, and You WON'T BELIEVE what happens next!

By:  Kayla Burke

Did my headline make you want to read this article? If so, then you’ve already been suckered into a form of click-baiting. I think it’s safe to say that almost everyone who has scrolled through their Facebook on any given day can easily say they’ve fallen “victim” to a click-bait link. It seems that so many of these pop up every day that they’ve almost become a regular extension of our newsfeeds. 

Personal Screenshot

Personal Screenshot

Writers use cleverly worded headlines that play on your emotions in order to get you to click onto their page. Sometimes, the article might be one that you find interesting, but more likely than not, it’s something that either isn’t interesting or you already knew – this is when you’ve become the “victim”. When writers use these headlines in order to draw people in, they are generally doing so in order to drive up ad revenue to the page. The longer a person stays on their site, navigating different pages, the more money they are likely to receive because of the ads on the page. Accordingto this article written by Alex Shye, there are 8 secrets that writers use to trick us into clicking -

1)   Explain Something – begin with why/how, tap into emotions
2)   Ask a Question – create curiosity, tap into fears of loss or missing out
3)   Add a Number – lists are easier to follow
4)   Overreach – guarantee something new or interesting
5)   Be Negative – add swear words, play on negative emotions
6)   Add Unnecessary Adjectives & Qualifiers – Using words like smart, stupid, must, or secret
7)   Invoke Authority – name dropping, backed by science or psychology
8)   Combine These Tricks Together

I’m sure as you were reading through that list, you were able to recall instances where you had seen many, if not all, of the above tactics being used in order to draw people in.

But is click-baiting really such a bad thing?

 In this transcript of an interview on NPR, host Arun Rath begins his interview by stating “…I’m Arun Rath with a story you do not want to miss.  Hang on for a shocking discovery that will rock your world, one little secret that could lead to financial independence.” Upon hearing that lead in, wouldn’t you want to stay tuned in to see what on earth he was talking about as well? Arun continues by interviewing Steve Hind, who had recently written in defense of click-baiting. He mentions that some articles are great examples of how much an articles popularity can transform based on the amount of thought and creativity you use labeling the content. Hind goes on to mention how we shouldn’t necessarily view click bait as such a terrible thing. Sure, it’s a different story when you click on an article and are met with a sub-par article with other sub-par content on the site, but if used correctly, and having a click-baited article lead to suggestions of other examples of strong journalistic content, then this will continue to drive up those page views and ad revenues, which could be extremely beneficial if an organization is truly hurting financially.

I have to somewhat agree with Hind’s views. Yes, click-bait can be annoying to see over and over again, but if I were to be consistently led to an article with suggestions for stronger content at the end, it would definitely keep me clicking through the website more than what a sub-par article with sub-par content recommendations would.

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