This Article Is About Clickbait: You'll Never Believe What Happens Next!
I've been a fan of magic since I was a kid. I have books and videos on all kinds of magic tricks. I can remember going to the magic shop and watching the sales guy demo some product that looked absolutely amazing. I was blown away because I couldn't wrap my brain around how and why this particular trick worked. Convinced I was going to amaze my friends and family with my incredible powers of magic, I would purchased the trick and rush home to learn the trick. And as soon as I discovered how the trick was done, I was completely disappointed. "This is it?" I would said to myself. "This is what I spent my money and effort on??"
Magic shops are old school forms of clickbait. Clickbait is a type of tactic that uses content of a provocative nature to get people to go to a particular website. Interesting content that connects with the reader and creative, witty writing simply won't be enough to generate page views; you have to come up with some kind of hook that will grab people and compel them to not only click on the link, but share it among their social networking circles.
Not long ago, the most commonly used trick in click-baiting was a numerical list, such as "Top 5 ways to con people into visiting your website." (or some derivative of that). Probably the best example of this formula being used is over at Cracked.com. For years they've built an empire by cranking out article after article using this rubber stamp technique. (I'm fairly certain they don't know any other way to write.)
But over the years, people have grown wary of this tactic and its' appeal is waning. So like a circus barker that has to change up his patter to attract the right kind of mark into the freak show tent, "marketing professionals" (and I use that term loosely) have had to evolve new techniques to hook the sucker... I mean customers into surfing to their page.
As I connect with a lot of marketing people on social media, I see a lot of clickbait. A LOT of clickbait! Some of it is interesting, but most of it is just crap.
And yet, as garbage as it may be, people still click on it.
Even though I was disappointed once I learned how to do a particular magic trick, I would still go to the store the following week and see some other trick that amazed me and that I just had to have.
We're a junk food culture. Clickbait is like french fries covered in melted cheese and topped with bacon bits and ranch dressing. And yes, I do realize that sounds pretty tasty and that's my point: You know the food is terrible for you. You know its nothing but fat without any substance - yet your mouth is watering just thinking about it, right? Welcome to clickbait.
These websites work very hard to tweak their content to squeeze the most money out of their advertising as possible. The content is usually nothing more than a slideshow of multiple pages, with different ads and links to other clickbait articles on every page. The whole point is to get people to click each page, which drives up the sites click through rate and generates more revenue from the ads. Quality content means nothing: the content exists solely to make money for the site.
Oh yeah, that's some quality content right there, boy!
What makes clickbait so annoying?
The problem I see with most clickbait is that it teases you, but then doesn't deliver. There is a promise of something amazing, but only disappointment when you actually click. The majority of clickbait out there seems to fall into this category. And the problem with this is that even though we may be occasionally enticed to click on something, if we're disappointed enough times, we'll stop clicking. There are a few people on Twitter that do nothing but retweet this kind of crap. And I've stopped clicking on their stuff. Eventually if these people continue to post useless, obvious garbage, I'll be unfollowing them.
What can clickbait teach us about running a voiceover business?
A modern VO business is perhaps 1% about your voice and 99% how you market that voice. (Which makes all of this even more amusing when you hear people trying to get into the VO industry say things like: "I've always been told what a great voice I have.")
When you browse through your social media sites, keep an eye out for the clickbait. See what works and what drives you away. What link compels you to click, and what convinces you that its a waste of time? Then start thinking about how you can apply that strategy towards your VO business. (But in a much less sleazy way.) Maybe you can apply this to a blog post. Maybe you can use it to generate interest in your site on a social media page. Maybe you can use the technique in a marketing letter or in the text of a job proposal. Use the psychology of clickbait to appeal to the reader's interests. Generate content that compels someone to want to read your email. Or click on your demo. Or listen to your entire demo.
However, always be striving to deliver the best possible content. You can only disappoint someone so many times before they start to ignore you.
So the real trick to social media marketing for a voiceover artist is to be relevant to the reader. Provide content they can appreciate. Something they take an interest in and something they want to share with other people. If you do this successfully, you will grow your audience. Which will grow your potential to gain a client, and grow your potential to be successful.
What happens next will completely surprise you and restore your faith in humanity.
About Rob Marley -
A Los Angeles native, Rob is an accomplished voice talent, producer and writer now living in the hill country of Austin Texas. Clickbait cartoon by "Cartoons by Jim"