They’re totally onto your clickbait

Image: Redd Angelo

I just spent the weekend with a group of teens for a writing/blogging workshop, and I noticed something quite interesting and revealing...

Gen Z is totally onto clickbait headlines and fear-based marketing.

I’ve been seeing a lot of it on Medium. The discussion seems to be heating up. It’s a puddle of mud that I don’t care/have the time to jump into right now, but I’ll just state what I saw…

This was no internet marketing seminar where the word ‘clickbait’ was even a topic. I was with a group of about 10 high school kids. Varied backgrounds. Various schools around the area. A pretty diverse crowd. And clickbait seemed to be a regular topic of discussion among them. They knew the term and it was utterly clear that they despise it. They totally ignore the stuff. They see it as a deceptive, commercialized, cheap move. One girl even wrote about it in a poem of hers!

There may be a large demographic out there right now who clickbait seems to work ‘well’ with. But there will come a day when the mass majority of the market will take you as a fool if you lean too heavily on these scare tactics.

I love this. I was so happy to see that these kids were so damn savvy, so true to themselves, and so unwilling to buy in to the fear-based marketing of the past. These kids have bullshit detectors as finely-tuned as any I’ve seen. I was blown away by how well they can sniff out any trace of phoniness or inauthenticity (yes, Hillary and Donald came up a lot).

I pried a bit. I asked what kinds of emails and articles they tended to click on. What they said was, just be real. Just show the reader what they’re about to read. Sure, evoke a little curiosity. Be interesting. But they’re so over the clickbait.

I could probably have an audience that’s three times bigger if I used more clickbait. But I’d rather have a smaller audience full of people who enjoy what I write because it consistently serves them and it connects with them on a deep level rather than a huge audience of fear-based, knee-jerk, lookie-loos.


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