The Scourge of Intellectual Click Bait

The Scourge of Intellectual Click Bait

Its 7am. You are starting your day by swatting up on current affairs over your commute or morning coffee. You open your trusted news source and scan the headlines; Politicians are snipping each other in a battle for the middle ground; some human interest story is in prime position (it is of no interest) and the editor has decided that some reality TV show can be classified as news. Shoot me. Now.

Having drawn a blank, you look to the trending section and find what you are looking for; real news! This widely respected news organisation has added an economic prediction for 2015 and, according to the headline, the forecast is not looking good. Surely this is a must read for anyone in the world of business?

Upon opening it, you realise it has been put together by an intern in between making rounds of coffee for the ‘proper’ employees. This is intellectual click bait.

Intellectual click bait (it can be prefixed with ‘faux’) are articles which aggregate some well-trodden ideas and are promoted with titles designed to grab the attention of people that want to read thought provoking articles …. They serve the same purpose as the ‘you won’t believe what he did next…’ headlines from viral sites that inundate your social news feeds (albeit with fewer kittens and no weight loss miracle cures)

So why do respectable companies post this tripe? To pander to Gen Y’s goldfish attention span? To increase traffic to add to advertising revenue? The halo effect of high traffic to SEO?

The answer is probably a combination of all of these.

This post should probably conclude with a call to action to come and talk to us about how to develop a content strategy that is designed to engage specific segments of your customer base. It’s not going to, this is purely cathartic. The irony of this post is not lost on the author either.

Now where is my Economist?

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