August 2, 2015

Complaining About Clickbait and Outrage Media

Clickbait at the expense of credibility with your core audience is very bad marketing

We love to complain about websites that seem to be about little more than clickbait and the latest outrage. We worry that they fuel polarization and tribalism, contribute to incivility, diminish the chances of meaningful political compromise, promote unhealthy behavior, and reduce our culture to a baser form we don't like to acknowledge. None of this is a new annoyance; we've been complaining about this sort of thing for some time. Some have referred to an outrage industry, and others have suggested that Americans are addicted to outrage. Books have been written about this phenomenon (e.g., The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility). Thus, the problem is one that seems to be widely recognized.

The thing about websites that traffic in outrage and clickbait (e.g., Huffington Post, Salon.com, Alternet) is that they endure because they are profitable. And why are they profitable? They are profitable because of us. We visit them, share their links across our social media accounts, and the like. So maybe the answer lies not in our continuing to complain about them and their tactics but in changing our behavior. Then again, perhaps complaining about them has become part of our outrage addiction.

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