Bait and Switch

By Mike Norwood, Active Member

Advertisers will do just about anything to get your attention and companies will sink to the lowest of lows to showcase their products. Look on any social media site and you’ll find a perfect example of what has evolved into a public relations nightmare; click-bait.

Click-bait can be defined as content with a sensational or provocative nature, whose main purpose is to attract attention and bring users to a particular website and is very similar to spam. When you click the link, you increase the amount of ‘unique monthly visitors’ or UMVs, which adds more value to the websites ad rates. In simple terms, a website can charge advertisers more money to have goods or services featured on their pages when they have more user traffic, which can be obtained through article titles that entice the social media reader with curiosity or pleasure.

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The problem that surrounds this method is that often times these links bring you to an article that has little information written in it and is filled with advertisement and spam instead. Gallery articles are another trend of click-bait that has been rising in popularity recently. Blogs and news sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy are perfect examples of this type of advertisement and border more on the lines of yellow journalism than any other form of writing.

In recent months, however, many users of social media have begun to vocalize their dislike for this method by sites like Buzzfeed. In a recent poll, consumers claimed that they felt Buzzfeed to be untrustworthy, regardless of political affiliation, which can hurt the brand altogether. Many users of Facebook have complained openly of click-bait articles. Facebook plans to crackdown on the amount of click-bait that has been popping up on newsfeeds.

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Overall, it is becoming clearer that when sites use click-bait or oversaturate the market with their cheap content and heavy product endorsement, it can drive consumers away from their sites or blogs and also injure their advertiser’s brand or product. Utilizing click-bait as a way to improve traffic flow can harm a company’s public relationship with their consumers and injure their image, which can have a long-term effect since everything that is placed on the Internet doesn’t disappear.

Quality, consistency, and conservative marketing is the key to finding success with an online audience when it comes to the blogosphere.

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