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Let me start by saying that ‘click-bait’ is a made-up slang term. It joins the ranks of words like ‘emoji’ or ‘ROFL’ which are, in fact, not words at all but dictated nonsense in the name of trend following. Sadly, bored lexicographers desperately trying to validate their existence insist on including more and more of these terms into the official records of our languages and therefore soon anything a Kardashian or any other thong-adorned Instagram authority sneezes will fit nicely into your next thesis.

‘Click-bait’, in its unconstrained use, refers to many things but at its core the point is to illustrate that it is something that compels you to click on it despite the fact that, should you have all the relevant info, you would never have chosen to click on it at all.

It ranges from something as innocent as the false suggestion that you are the 100 000th visitor to the site and are therefore entitled a car, (when, in fact all you’ll get is an insane amount of advertising flowing into whatever contact details you’ve been obtuse enough to supply) all the way to a violent and disturbing dissemination of radical ideas.

Yes, some of the most horrifying iterations of click-bait appear in the form of radical agendas. Something that all who tread into the world of advertising online should know is this:

People who feel strongly are more likely to act.

Opinionated people will act and react to what they see. The soulless click-bait creators know this and will constantly exploit it to get what they want. What do they want? Well… clicks.

‘Internet trolls’ know this too, but we’ll deal with them some other time.

The reason these bastards are vying for your mouse twitches is simple. Once a site has enough traffic on it there is an opportunity for it to sell advertising or, if they can get it, information, for advertising later. The root of this evil is, as always, money.

So, the question is: what should you do?

Well, as a person you need to be critical about anything you read on the internet. You also need to start being smart about where you read something on a particular site. You’ll notice where content stops and advertising begins if you just apply some logic to whatever dark new spots on the internet you might visit. Be warned, this principle also applies to apps on your phone. It’s even easier for click-bait to gain ascendency on a smaller screen.

As a business, my suggestion is not to employ these kind of guerrilla tactics. Know that advertising in places where your advert is mistaken for content will annoy users and although you will rack up clicks and therefore hits on your site, it won’t matter because none of those visits will be converted into real leads.

Think about the ads you’ve responded to. Sometimes they make you laugh, or sometimes they’re just offering exactly what you need. We’re not trying to trick our clients with our marketing. We should always make an effort to speak to them on a relatable level. This is called ethical advertising.

Click-bait doesn’t make you buy things you don’t want, only sex and booze does that.

It’s a scary new world. Let’s wise up.

Lot’s of love,


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