BuzzFeed, Upworthy, and ViralNova: I’m calling out these three examples as repeat offenders and I’m going to label them ‘Catnip for idiots’. I’m literally sick of seeing pages posting click bait headlines, stupid people sharing it and my Facebook newsfeed so full of “You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!” and “Everyone is Talking About This. You’re About to See Why.”
– No. No, I’m ******* not. Because it’s horse **** click bait and I won’t be clicking.
*Must. Resist. Clicking*
You Won’t Believe How Much I hate Click Bait Posts
Really. I do HATE them. Mostly because it’s sensationalist, lazy journalism with an attention-grabbing headline to make people read the article (Which is often sponsored) and rarely ever delivers on the over the top headline that pulled people in. It’s a waste of time, quite frankly.
Ironically, I had to click a whole bunch of click bait to research this article. Now I feel like I need a hot shower but may never be truly clean again.
The Urban Dictionary Definition of ‘Click Bait’ (Because Wiki is too good for Click Bait.)
“An eyecatching link on awebsite which encourages people to read on. It is often paid for by the advertiser (“Paid” click bait) or generates income based on the number of clicks. This is not news, really. It’s click bait, the stuff page views are made of.”
Essentially, a vague headline designed to pique your curiosity without telling what the article is actually about. Quite simply, it is simply there to make you click on the link… Then sell at you with low quality ads that would not be appropriate on other advertising platforms. See below:
Now, whilst I work in online marketing, I work within the Google Guidelines and it’s engrained in me that quality content is king. I feel like these click bait links and websites do nothing more that provide mediocre (at best) content with the sole intention of pulling vast numbers of (mostly irrelevant) traffic to the site so they can be subjected to the ads surrounding the article selling and promoting products and services that simply would not be allowed to run on Google Adwords or cost so much per click that it is not economically viable on other sponsored mediums.
With ‘Tips and tricks’ to make money fast, obtain expensive gadgets at a fraction of the market value and lose weight fast, these ads are… dodgy. Even more dodgy than the content of the article which often consist of a handful of pictures scraped from the net and little actual written content. Every once in a while they may be entertaining but most of the time, they are little more than a headline and a link to low standard content.
Facebook Is Cleaning Up Click Bait from its News Feed. Finally.
Whilst most of us in the UK were enjoying our bank holiday on 25th of August, Facebook was hard at work, planning to blitz some of the low quality click bait in its news feed along with pages that have links shared in the captions of photos and status updates with a view to sharing these links.
Good quality content should drive traffic but as I’ve mentioned, these article are usually very low quality in terms of content and Facebook knows this as they explain below:
“Posts like these tend to get a lot of clicks, which means that these posts get shown to more people, and get shown higher up in News Feed. However, when we asked people in an initial survey what type of content they preferred to see in their News Feeds, 80% of the time people preferred headlines that helped them decide if they wanted to read the full article before they had to click through. Over time, stories with “click-bait” headlines can drown out content from friends and Pages that people really care about”
I respect the fact that Facebook are taking a ’test and measure’ approach to clamping down on these articles. The News Feed Algorithm does actually take into account elements such as the number of people clicking on the articles, how many shares and likes it receives but now it also measures how long users are actually reading the article for. The argument being that if it is actually a quality read then users will click to share or like AFTER they have taken the time to read the article. Whereas the user would have simply returned to Facebook and neglected to share the article after a short space of time.
Thumbs Up to Facebook for Trying
BUT… One clear flaw in this plan to measure ‘duration of time spent on pages = a good quality link’ is that people may not close the tab containing the story straight away. Leaving it sitting over in another browser tab and indicating that it is a wonderfully interesting piece of content instead of the woefully tiresome piece of s**t that it probably is. But hey, Facebook are aware of the issue and trying to deal with it. Hats off to ’em.
In addition, Facebook will be prioritising stories shared in the link format and show fewer posts with links in the captions or status updates above photos… Sharing links in the way you may have previously will most likely see a decrease in traffic. Facebook explains this:
“We’ve found that people often prefer to click on links that are displayed in the link format (which appears when you paste a link while drafting a post), rather than links that are buried in photo captions. The link format shows some additional information associated with the link, such as the beginning of the article, which makes it easier for someone to decide if they want to click through. This format also makes it easier for someone to click through on mobile devices, which have a smaller screen.”
RIP Click Bait Sites?
In a word, no. Probably.
But it is reassuring to know that Facebook is actually doing something about trying to clear up it’s newsfeed of this poor quality links with vague titles, leading to mediocre content surrounded by scam-worthy adverts. Finally.
We can all do our bit in the meantime by resisting the urge to click these horrendous wastes of time, not reading them or leaving the page as soon as it becomes apparent they are click bait for stupid people. Then finally, my Facebook News Feed may go back to people moaning, pictures of cats and updates about how much people are “loving’ life, LOL!”
*I’m going back to Twitter*