I tried a clickbait experiment yesterday. Here are my reflections.

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Having been reading a bit on online marketing in the last few weeks, one of the topics that arose was “clickbaiting”, which means writing a fairly sensasionalist headline. It's a controversial topic, but time and time again it brings in significant numbers of readers. I know a few BoardingArea bloggers who do this kind of thing frequently, and while it is incredibly cringeworthy as a reader, as a blogger I figured you should always try something once before you knock it. Here is yesterday's post for reference.

One thing I've noticed about air miles enthusiasts over the 5 years I've been playing the game is that we are FAR more vocal and assertive of our moral stances than many others hobbies. I have no idea why, but our intolerance to other people's opinions really shows in blog comments and forums like Flyertalk.

But to stand out in a fairly noisy and competitive environment like BoardingArea (which combined with Prior2Boarding has over 40 bloggers), Twitter and Facebook, the only thing we can go by is a strong title. You get fewer than 140 characters to reader your content no matter how beautifully it's written. It is the difference between whether you will end the day in profit or in debt.

Don't forget that this blog is read by many thousands of beginner readers who are looking for more low-level stuff like “how do air miles work”, “what are Tier Points”, “how do I get free Gold status?”. Blogs like this need to be able to draw in those kind of readers in and then read other posts in order to keep it growing and make it a worthwhile use of my time. (Hey I'm human like the rest of your right?). A few other blogs out there moderate the comments, much to many readers' disapproval. I personally don't see anything wrong with moderation though I don't do as I don't have time to juggle moderating with a full time job outside blogging.

Do I think I'm selling myself out for yesterday's post? Nope. I feel like any other salesperson having to pitch their product, or looking the other way any fresh university graduate picking one job offer over the other because the benefits are significantly higher.

Therefore, I make no apology for going ahead with it.

What was the impact from yesterday's post?

  • As of 3pm Central European Time on 17th Jan 2016, The blog view is up approximately 5x its daily average. The last spike which broke the traffic norm was this post entitled “hack your British Airways short haul seats” 
  • The post received a couple comments disapproving the clickbait, probably many more rolled eyes.
  • I got this tweet:
Screenshot from 2016-01-17 14:49:18

Ignoring the spelling error, there is far, far worse out there on BoardingArea

 

So, what have I learnt from this? Clickbaiting works from a purely marketing and profitability point of view, but it doesn't make me a sliver more satisfied with the increased traffic, despite a bit of a cringe moment writing it. As is often quoted in our hobby “YMMV” – your miles may vary.

Feel free to comment below, whether positive or negative.

Comments

    • Correct, clickbaiting is putting a fairly sensasionalist headline. “You won’t BELIEVE what this person ate yesterday”. There’s a divided opinion on whether the post has good/bad content is part of the definition too.

    • Agreed with you on that Dan. For instance many of the deals that BoardingArea bloggers post are exclusively for US-based persons and the post doesn’t always mention it. I would have to read the T&Cs of the promotion to find out.

      Of course I will feel let down that I cannot participate, but if that is permissible, then the reverse must also hold true. UK (or any other country) deals which US residents do not benefit. Would the headline to that post be clickbait or enticing?

    • I wrote an article pertaining to “click-bait” headlines several months ago:

      http://thegate.boardingarea.com/you-wont-believe-what-happened-next-after-how-surprised-i-was-with-these-especially-with-2/

      In my opinion, a sensational headline which does nothing but attract readers to content which does not substantiate it is considered “click-bait”; whereas a creatively written headline which has enough informative or entertaining content to back it up and satisfy the curiosity of the reader is not “click-bait”.

      In other words, the content should support the headline. This goes back to the days before the Internet when “yellow journalism” was pervasive with some media.

  1. Here’s the problem. There aren’t that many blogs on boarding area. And crying wolf will earn you a negative reputation.

    In other words, we will remember you, and remember not to click on your enticing headlines.

    Furthermore, we will ignore you and will make no apology for ignoring you.

  2. Gary Leff has no such qualms about using clickbait titles. If you’re ready to sell your integrity and take your blogging to the next level you should ask him for some pointers.

    I appreciate that you have the conscience to know it’s cringe-worthy though.

  3. It wasn’t really clickbaity though, because it was true.

    By a total coincidence, I ran a post today discussing ‘free Gold’ something else and got called out for it, which was fair enough because it wasn’t fully true.

    Rule 1 of business though – ‘my services are for sale, my reputation is not’ ……

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