The Semantics of Clickbait

Producers of clickbait deserve credit for one thing; a keen awareness of misleading vocabulary. They don’t care that beneath the sensationalised and misleading headlines that they spew across social media and online news sites is vapid drivel that instantly bores the audience. No. All they care about is the volume of clicks. Clicks are kings. Nothing else matters.

I recall in the eighties that various personalities were labelled media whores for their blatant efforts to do outrageous and banal things just to get media attention. Now we have social media whores at their keyboards who are less concerned with getting attention, as that’s not the point. The only point now is getting the clicks.

Why do they do this? Aside from the advertising revenue, another reason is for the praise.

Professional content producers in this social media environment are less likely to be praised for the content of their work, but rather they are showered with praise for the number of clicks their headlines attract. Clicks open new pages displaying advertisers’ content – without that, the platform has no revenue. Because it is all about advertising revenue.

A website with no clicks cannot sell advertising. Period.

As for the amateurs, the praise comes in the form of the clicks themselves as displayed on the blog site statistics pages that provide the regular dopamine fix for the writer, boosted immeasurably if they are fortunate enough to get likes and comments – as long as the clickbait skills are well-honed.

But wait, there’s more.

How is performance measured in this digital workplace? Yes, various metrics are available, but for professional content producers there is no doubt that clicks are likely to outweigh most others. You get the clicks, you get the pay raise, the promotion, whatever.

It’s the numbers, stupid.

It is easier for a manager to look at a chart and see click statistics than to read, absorb and evaluate content. With a quick glance at a chart that shows clicks rising and rising, writers with upward click volumes are praised, promoted, etc.

For writers whose clicks have plateaued or are in decline, they are either berated or jettisoned. That, or they are encouraged to use better hashtags – or more enticing vocabulary in their headlines.

Improve content? Why? Who cares? People only read the headlines anyway. The content only appears after the click. Get your priorities straight.

Remember to like this article and leave a comment. For the dopamine.

Hashtag: #ladygagasdogs

Published by Thomas Timlen

Where to begin? Perhaps the web content says it best...

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