Small Business Marketing in the Age of Click Bait

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Click baitor link bait refers to content that is engineered with the express purpose of getting a strong attentive response from readers. Often this overlaps with “viral content”, or massively shared articles and videos that are either discovered and popularized organically or created specifically with the goal of becoming popular in mind. As soon as viral activity was noted as a phenomenon of the internet age. marketers everywhere sat up and took note. The interesting aspects of viral content include the fact that there is no such thing as a “standard” piece of viral content, both high budget corporate backed projects and videos recorded on cellphones go viral on a regular basis. Another is that content that gets no promotion at all frequently becomes viral by virtue of being discovered by influencers as much or more as through promotion through high traffic channels.

Click bait attempts to play on psychology and trends to pull attention through a link to a desired landing page or action. Some of the undisputed masters of writing click bait headlines are the people at Buzzfeed. Whether you stand on the side of those who deride their exaggerated headline style as shameless promotion or you think that they are simply giving the people what they want, there is no denying that this site has been able to create a goldmine of traffic and engagement, and their attention grabbing style has gained many imitators. The technique has even been mentioned by Matt Cutts as not necessarily a bad thing as long as information is pertinent to the user clicking the link.

What this means for small business owners. While the idea of click bait is colloquially associated with traffic driving sites that are essentially hubs for viral sharing, the use of attention grabbing titles has spread through all corners of the internet to the point that small business owners should begin to look closely at how their own content can compete. That’s not to say that business owners need to start writing articles with titles like “10 ways Joe’s light bulbs outshine the competition”, although they can if they are so inclined. What they should do is reflect a bit longer than they would normally on the title of their posts. The realization that your content is only as good as the people who read it say it is means that for a small business content strategy to be successful, they need to both make what they produce appealing and of a quality that thy would read themselves. You don’t have to produce click bait for the masses as a small business owner, you just need to ensure that your titles and content become like catnip to the target group of consumers your business needs to reach out to.

Photo Credit to Peter Shanks on Flickr

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