The Irony: Complaining about Linkbait with Linkbait

Here’s an irony: Mashable’s thoughtful post titled Stop Linkbait Before It Ruins Content Marketing is surrounded by linkbait.

And what’s there on the right, in the sidebar? An ad, then “what’s hot,” one about an injured kitten and the other about Justin Bieber. Both of which are, well, linkbait. Right?

The post, by Sam Slaughter, starts like this:

“You’ve clicked them before: ‘5 Things Preventing You From Becoming a Billionaire,’ ‘The Secret Video Obama Doesn’t Want You to See’ and the ever-insidious ‘[Hot Female Celeb’s] Wardrobe Malfunction.’

It seems harmless enough linkbait, but stories like these have the potential to kill content marketing.”

In Sam’s defense, he’s not — despite the title — just complaining about linkbait tactics. Instead, he has serious suggestions, and reminders, of how content can and ought to be different from linkbait.

The title got my attention because it seemed like one of those impossible quests to change humanity. The linkbait phenomenon he writes about is, like spam, the natural result of what people, en masse, choose to click on. It’s related to the same human phenomenon that sensationalizes headlines, yellow journalism, television news, and tabloids. It’s as old as journalism. I ran into it more than 30 years ago, as a young journalist in Mexico City. And it’s still there today.



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