Linkbait Versus Information-Style Content: Which One?

There is a remarkable difference between the content of link bait reporting compared to clear prose that the average reader who is out to fill a morning ride to work with updates on their phone or newspaper will likely not notice. But what a difference it makes to the way we process information. Yet far in few media sources provide insightful clear prose that defines one of the key differences between a columnist and journalist.

No doubt the benefits of portability and quick information comes at the expense of insight that so iconically defines the appeal of TED and the likes. For the reader, and not news flash junkie (that feed the frenzies of Twitter updates in 140 characters or less) the expressiveness of opinion in commentary is a rare sight to find filtered through social media feed.

The unfortunate downside being, information-style content is not the optimal strategy for mass social marketing and monetisation. Partial to the success and rise of social media platforms from Hi5, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter has never been content heavy streams but the speed and mobilisation of notifications in short, non-time consuming blasts in real-time. We consider a new generation of readers who either have increasingly short attention spans or less time to give. And, the slow but sure takeover of interactive new media technology i.e. vlogging as a way of reaching us.

What does this mean for readers?

Ultimately, I’m finding a lot of what was traditional written media fighting back by adapting, resulting in this: 10 Things You Need To Know Right Now

Or in worse cases: Clicking on a link to have JavaScript load a gallery where a sentence is on each third slide for which, Business Insider is notorious of, much to the frustration of readers.

The key now, and still on trend, is the volume and frequency of shorter updates giving much less information for optimally creating as many views as possible to reach the masses. Clearly though, content is crap and Bill Gates got it wrong. ‘Spam-feed’ though, does work as curiosity would have me follow the catch-bait headline to see if there is anything worth the read, often to only find under x words, about 19 trackers and some ads. Time and time again. Much like a hard-wired response to pick up the phone when it rings to find a telemarketer on the other line.

Does this benefit the person’s PPC on the other line? Yes. But, at the cost of the reader’s user experience.

With the slow death of print for the past two decades, it seems written form hasn’t quite yet fully evolved to know exactly how to compete with new online platforms whilst simultaneously maintaining authenticity and ratings. Though I do empathise with the time-cost-benefit needed for lengthier pieces, and guilty as charged, find ad-word style content to be quite lucrative for search ranking purposes, does this really justify that more than a few online media tycoons are happy with only giving us content and entertainment 30% of the time but using its’ resources to get our attention 70% of the time?

Having worked with a linkbait model for social media strategy, I’d have to say it’s great for re-sharing content and maintaining search rankings but largely loses the interest of readers in the long haul for lack of better quality. Some highlights, nonetheless — even an ounce of personalisation in content feeds have proved to work wonders for interactivity to meet clickbait goals and impressions. Just one brighter spin out of a yard of straw, you say? Perhaps. But when the Internet is full of memes about lolcats, I’d have to say linkbait hasn’t quite reached its expiry date.

Alas, I’ve always been more of a dog person.

Originally published at

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