When it comes to setting your editorial calendar, the concept of “publish or perish” can feel all too real. After all, who’s going to subscribe to your blog or news site if you’re only coming out with new stories once every two weeks?
Combine that with the need for “shareable content” and high traffic growth goals, and all of a sudden clickbait content starts to look quite appealing. But before you go write that next listicle, stop and think about the downsides to publishing content with little value.
Clickbait: You Know It When You See It
While Webster’s might not yet have a formal definition for “clickbait” in its hallowed pages, Wikipedia succinctly defines it. “Clickbait is a pejorative term describing web content that is aimed at generating online advertising revenue, especially at the expense of quality or accuracy, relying on sensationalist headlines to attract click-throughs and to encourage forwarding of the material over online social networks.”
More importantly, you know clickbait content when you see it. Frivolous listicle? That’s clickbait! Article contains nothing but gifs and memes? Check! Trend-driven piece that adds nothing new to the conversation? Sounds like clickbait, too!
How Clickbait Hurts Publishers
Think of clickbait like a drug; it may seem great in the present, but it has long-term negative consequences. Yes, you may be getting traffic, but what are those visitors going to think of your brand or site afterward? Are they really going to come back to you for MORE cat gifs, and how does that even help build awareness for your latest product? This hurts not just brand journalism, but any publisher that overly embraces clickbait tactics. After all, when’s the last time you heard someone mention Upworthy?
Worst of all, a mere click or pageview is inherently worthless to a savvy content marketer. To Buzzfeed or the New York Times, that page load means they get to serve an ad, and make a few cents of profit. But your brand’s content isn’t covered in banner ads. Instead, you’re telling stories to connect with your audience and make your brand resonate with them so that down the line they’ll be more apt to purchase your services or recommend you to a friend.
So, before you write “15 Awesome Gifs That Summarize Our Newest Software Update”, think about how your audience is really going to react to that story once they get beyond the headline.