We've all fallen victim to click-bait before. It's not your fault you clicked on an interesting-sounding link only to be redirected to a bogus article attacking brunch. Advertisers have begun using headlines that are meant to trigger an emotional response, either very positive or very negative, in order to get one thing - clicks.
What is Click Bait?
For a long time, advertisers relied on what Kira Goldberg called a curiosity gap used to "entice readers into clicking by omitting a key piece of information." Although this "knowledge gap" style was effective in the beginning, less and less people are falling for such tactics.
Now, advertisers have taken up a new strategy: creating completely sensationalized headlines that are strategically put together to generate shares and page views. Content like this is called click-bait. According to an article by The Financial Brand, "a headline might say 'You Won't Believe How These Ten Women Lost 100 Pounds.' Clicking on the linke takes to a page with a story about ten women who each lost ten pounds with proper diet and exercise...while the content is surrounded by ads and/or other types of marketing."
Companies that use click-bait typically advertise through a large amount of different sites and media. These companies are playing the numbers game; all they are trying to do is gather clicks, shares, tweets, instagrams, you name it. As long as the content hits the largest possible audience,
This type of marketing strategy is flat-out annoying. The upside is that it has become easier and easier to spot such click-bait. It's also important to be able to spot when content is meant to be satirical and not taken at face value. This can cause Hate-Share headlines to run rampant.
When you peruse social media, you often stumble upon an article that someone has shared with an absolutely outrageous headline, such as "Should Single Women Be Allowed to Vote?" Many of these articles do not carry the same message that the headline suggests, however the goal is to cause a negative emotional reaction, hopefully to the point that they will share the article based on how crazy it is. Many people don't even read the hate-share articles that they post.
Kira Goldberg defined hate-share articles as "an idea that sounds wrong, or counter-intuitive, proposed as though it were the tightest logic ever." There is a use for this sort of promotion, it offers entertaining articles meant to cause you to think differently based on another (often sarcastic) perspective.
It is the duty of the reader to distinguish what is pointless click-bait, what is a satirical take on a sensitive subject, and what is actual news. However, the journalists and advertisers putting together this content have a duty to be transparent and to avoid deception. There is a fine line between deception and advertising. Click-bait is the annoying middle, but it's easy to spot and avoid if you just look for the right buzzwords. But it's alright to fall victim to a Buzzfeed quiz about which Friends character you are.