You just couldn't help yourself could you?
No, I wasn't just trying to trick you for the sake of it. The real topic of today's article is:
'A Discussion on the Pros and Cons of Clickbait in Fitness'
Why Our Brains Like It
For a long time, I was of the opinion that clickbait is something that only sleazy marketers do. "I'm not like those guys", I would tell myself.
Here's the problem though - whether you think you like clickbait or not, we still respond to it. After all, you clicked on this link didn't you? Did you wonder why you felt the urge to?
Effective clickbait does a few things. It appeals to our curiosity and our desire for a simple answer to life's problems. Often it will present things in an ordered list, and make the answer sound very certain. Our brains are lazy, so this sounds like a nice way of conserving mental energy as opposed to reading a long and rambling article.
Look at the two pieces of content below:
The Argument For Clickbait
The top article is the original title, whereas the bottom one is my take on what an accurate description of the content would be (my photoshop skills ain't too shabby I think!).
Be honest with yourself - which one piques your interest more? The dumbbell row is a boring old tried and tested exercise, with loads of tutorials on the web already. But the row that will change back day FOREVER? Now that's worth clicking on.
Now think of the title of this article. A is what I went with, and B is a less flashy but more accurate one:
A: Fitness Industry's #1 Secret EXPOSED!
B: A Discussion on the Pros and Cons of Clickbait in Fitness.
Some of you would click on B anyway, because you are what is called a 'core fan'. These are people who enjoy my content and click on it, regardless of how its packaged, as they trust it will be valuable (thank you very much, by the way).
However, there are far more people who might be new to the newsletter or just read it every now and then. For them, using the right title is the thing that will dictate if they open it or not, and ensure they get exposed to useful information.
Clickbait Done Badly
I think our hatred for clickbait can be defined simply as
when our expectations are not met. This means that either the content did not reflect the title, or the content was just a bit crap. For example, you may have felt a bit disappointed when you realised there was no #1 secret in this article. Sorry.. :)
If however we end up being happy that we clicked on the content, then we quite quickly forget about the silly headline and image.
Taking the T Nation article above as an example, that website lost a lot of integrity over the years by abusing the clickbait system. While some of the content is decent, the titles are often highly misleading, and their credibility has been further damaged by stooping to peddling whacky supplements.
Integrity is a rare asset in this industry, and once you lie to your followers there's not much of a comeback. Safe to say this is not something I'll ever do.
As I've said, clickbait works - if it didn't, you wouldn't be reading this. The photo above also probably encouraged you to scroll a bit further too.
I've come to realise that coaches do need to meet people where they're at. If using a flashy headline gets somebody to click into something that could help them, then maybe that's mission accomplished for both parties.
For example, I don't post photos like the above much at all. Posting half naked photos of myself for likes isn't an aspiration of mine. However, this is the kind of thing that a newbie to training wants to see. They want to see proof that the coach is in good shape, and they want to find out how they can also lose fat and gain muscle. Eventually they'll realise there's more to this than aesthetics, but even I didn't know that as a spotty-faced 15 year old starting in the gym.
Essentially, you may see more clickbait content from me in the future. If you do, just know that the content inside will still be the same, just packaged in a way that will nudge your brain to click into it. I think you'll find you're glad you did.