This is the most important thing about clickbait you’ll read today*

* assuming you don’t read anything else about clickbait today

This article focuses on content produced by content marketers, but applies just as much to regular publishers who are constantly trying to ride the latest wave of social media fads to suck in a few unsuspecting punters with low-rent, instantly-forgettable clickbait. Short, cheap, trend-driven / fast-turnaround content may well help you hit short-term engagement metrics, but will long-term kill audience retention:

“The internet is ballooning with fluff, and bad content marketing is to blame. In our obsession with ‘engaging’ our ‘audience’ in ‘real-time’ with ‘targeted content’ that goes ‘viral,’ we are driving people insane… When a publishing agenda is too ambitious, people can’t afford to shoot anything down… They’re under too much pressure to fill… slots”

I particularly like the concept of “click-flu” – the sense of annoyance and disappointment you get (both with the content and, more importantly, with yourself) when you click on a clickbaity link, and the page you end up on fails to deliver on its hyperbolic promise. The resentment builds and builds – and over time, leads to hatred of the people who lured you in time and again.

If you make a big promise, as so many of these “This is the most important thing you will see today” clickbaity headlines do, you’d damned well better live up to it.