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This blogger pronounced viral marketing dead. You won’t believe what happens next.

 Sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed get tons of clicks. But is it a good marketing strategy?

Ah, the much-desired and elusive click. Even before sites like Upworthy were just kicking ass at getting people to click through to their videos, marketers had become obsessed with making a video go viral. To the point where a service like “Buyral” seemed totally plausible.

But then something flipped and people started getting sick of Upworthy and the like. An increasing number of sites are being accused of being nothing more than idle “clickbait.”

Beyond that, is delivering clickbait a good marketing strategy for businesses to adopt?

People are sick of gimmicks, sick of tricks   

clickbaitClickbait is just that: manipulative headlines that trick you into clicking through to content.

According to the Alexa stats, although not horrendous, both upworthy and buzzfeed have seen better days.

But investors are still flocking to the viral format that relies so heavily on social referral. Recently, Distractify “closed on a $7 million round of Series A funding” (Felix Gillette, Businessweek.com). Is the viral format dead, or simply changing?

“Because all content deserves to go viral.”

The clearest sign that people are sick of this kind of baiting is the rise of parody sites like Clickhole, Headlines Against Humanity, and Upworthygenerator.

Clickhole is run by the famous fake news site, The Onion, “to make sure that all of our content panders to and misleads our readers just enough to make it go viral.”  Scroll through the site and see how there are step-by-step instructions for how to click on a post. Does all content really deserve to go viral? Use the button!

Taking the click out of bait

Buzzfeedfeedvideo has great viewer numbers on youtube. Their latest video, If Your Boyfriend Was Your Phone, has over 187,000 views a mere 15 hours after posting. By checking the sharedcount for the video we can easily see that all the activity for the youtube link comes from facebook or the google +1 system.

It seems that Facebook is by far their largest referrer. The revelation is that “only 10% to 15% of BuzzFeed’s video views happen on BuzzFeed.com” and that’s probably because “They can watch them without leaving their Facebook or Twitter feeds” (Tim Peterson adage.com).

So basically, not having to click through to another site to get your content seems to be a winning concept.

What can we do to get people to care?

Any business that relies on content production can easily fall into the trap of overselling the headline. Simply creating great headlines can only be a long lasting business model for businesses who sell ads or clicks. We all want to believe that we can just “put a bird on it” and our product will sell itself. But in the end, the quality of content or end product will shine through.

Don’t clickbait unless you’re selling clicks

Don’t underestimate your readers. They know when they’re being insulted – just like the backlash against Upworthy.

Clickbaiting is simply not a good marketing strategy unless you sell clickbait. Not many businesses are happy paying for irrelevant (and possibly annoyed) traffic. Why should you?

Try to speak to your audience like they’re people not just Mr. Clickyfingers. The reason is that Mr. Clickyfingers only gives you clicks like int the Buyral video. If you’re after something more than clicks you’re going to need something more than clickbait.

 

Please like my post” by Kate Ter Haar is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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