Clickbait’s Gone Too Far. Does It Need To Be Regulated?I’m writing this on the back of outrage. 👿

I was on the Daily Mail website yesterday (that’s not why I’m outraged, there was an article on Jurgen Klopp I wanted to read, I’m a big Liverpool FC fan!) when I saw a clickbait link that made my blood boil. 😡 😡

‘9 CELEBRITIES WHO’VE KILLED PEOPLE’ it screamed, with a (very) recent picture of Jim Carrey supporting the headline.

It’s not only incredibly crass considering what’s happened in Mr. Carrey’s life recently but it’s also factually inaccurate and probably libellous. I clicked on the link to find that it’s actually a list of 23 celebrities with tenuous links to death, with Carey jammed on at the end as a bonus feature.

It doesn’t stop there. ‘His powerful influence led her to kill herself. He actually killed her.’ The article’s referencing the recent tragic suicide of Cathriona White, Carey’s ex-girlfriend.

It was published by a website called CelebSeven which claims to be ‘Your Fame Gateway’, and appears to be a listicle-type BuzzFeed clone. The above is probably one of the worst, most ill-informed articles I’ve ever read, and quite upsetting if you’ve read the facts of the case.

So why am I getting so het up about a ridiculous article that I’d never usually read? Because of exactly where I found it; on one of the world’s most visited websites on one of its top stories of the day.

Thanks to a content aggregator like Taboola, if it’s visible to me then it’s also visible to millions of people across the globe.

Your Turn: Has clickbait gone too far? How responsible should the likes of Taboola be when displaying content? Let me know in the comments section below.

A legal minefield


The spread of misinformation is something that I’ve highlighted worries about before
but this is probably one of the most extreme cases I’ve seen, especially as CelebSeven will be earning financial benefits from visits, such is the wonder of Taboola.

The story was incredibly loosely linked to Liverpool FC and was instead about how many goals the Leicester forward Jamie Vardy had scored. It’s a bit of a legal minefield that content publishers should be aware of, too. If it is found to be libellous and Taboola’s helped it spread who’s at fault? Certainly CelebSeven, but is the Daily Mail regarded as the publisher or Taboola? Or both?

But I think there’s a wider trend at play. I honestly think people are getting fed up with the clickbait mix of content marketing and social, and are ready to abandon it. Here’s another example I found last week from a larger publisher, the Daily Mirror.

Well, more specifically Mirror Football (hey, these are exciting times!). A post on Facebook from the Mirror Football team claimed that Liverpool fans would be left FUMING if they clicked on the story.

The story was incredibly loosely linked to Liverpool FC and was instead about how many goals the Leicester forward Jamie Vardy had scored. Another quest-for-clicks post; this time though the people following the page on Facebook made their feelings quite clear (see pic).

It’s not really fair picking on the writers of the piece if that’s how they’ve been directed to write, though, but you can see why people are so frustrated. It’s something I’ve covered before; people want to be entertained, educated, and informed. Not led down a path to nowhere.

These aren’t isolated examples, and I’ve pointed out in the past that a Reddit-based user-generated content strategy is a huge part of the problem as businesses look to share content for quick clicks and engagement.

Amazingly though, Reddit can also be the solution to the problem thanks to its brand new news-focused website Upvoted.

Your Turn: What’s the worst example of clickbait you’ve ever seen and, more to the point, did it make you click it? Is this the end of clickbait? Let me know below!

Upvoted gets noted

Last week Reddit unveiled a brand new news website called Upvoted. The site will act as a front-of-house for Reddit with an editorial team creating original content. It’s a movement that makes a lot of sense for Reddit which seemingly always attracts controversy.

It’s a smart business move to attract revenue and draw eyes away from some of its more controversial content and subreddits. It’s also a natural progression; if the likes of BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, and most media sites around the world can grow with Reddit’s user-based content then why shouldn’t Reddit itself try?

It’s already looking impressive, and is a better attempt at BuzzFeed than the likes of CelebSeven already. And, I hope as it grows, it goes some way to reducing those terrible clickbait headlines.

Clickbait will never die out. The practice has been used even before the internet with sensationalist front-page headlines on newspapers. But if media organisations that are using a very Reddit-heavy content marketing strategy see how well Reddit themselves are doing it with original content then it might just make them think.

Similarly, if readers that digest a lot of Reddit’s content discover the site and like the things Upvoted is publishing then they may be less inclined to click obvious clickbait submissions, especially on social.

 

Last week Reddit unveiled a brand new news website called Upvoted.

 

Because, make no mistake, the power lies with the reader. If the reader isn’t interested in clicking on a link that’s dressed up to be vague so people will visit the website then the form will slowly be replaced by other tactics.

Clickbait does have its place in content marketing in small doses, but an over-reliance on it is probably the quickest way to turn people off. And certainly don’t do it like the examples I’ve used in this post, especially the CelebSeven one.

That’s how not to use content to grow your business. Content marketing and business growth is more than impressions and traffic. It’s about connecting with your readership in a long-term manner and evolving them into friends of the brand.

If you’re not using clickbait for a greater good then you’re just spreading misinformation and doing everybody an enormous disservice.

If you’d like to know more about content marketing and how it can complement your overall inbound growth strategy get in touch with a Webpresence representative now!