The first YouTube video was uploaded in April of 2005, just under 13 years ago. Today, YouTube gets over 30 million unique viewers every day. On YouTube you can find anything from low-budget skateboarding videos, to music videos, to cats being weirdly afraid of cucumbers (WATCH THAT). You get my point. It has everything.
There are even full-time YouTubers who make a living off of creating content for YouTube. It’s become so popular that OVER 300 HOURS of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. So with YouTube being so saturated with content… how does one become popular on YouTube?
One word. Clickbait.
Maybe two words. Who cares. Clickbait is the act of creating a colorful, attention grabbing thumbnail with a title that usually exaggerates what actually goes on in the video.
Here are a couple of examples…
Clickbaiting is marketing in its most elementary form. Advertising your product (video) in a way that grabs the users’ attention. Does it work? Yes! Is it ethical? No.
I’ll explain why.
People often rant about our economy and how the 1% takes money from the 99% and gives it back to themselves. That’s exactly what clickbait is doing but instead of controlling our money, they’re controlling something even more valuable…
our attention. Using YouTube’s algorithm, clickbait videos find their way to people’s related videos, then the action-packed preview of the video manipulates the dopamine receptors responsible for motivation in the brain of the user causing them to, almost unconsciously, click on the video. From that point forward they will find similar clickbait on their homepage or in their “related videos” section the majority of the times they go on YouTube.
My fear with clickbait is that most young internet users growing up in the era of social media will not have the common sense not to be coerced by clickbait. As time passes, they will be so engulfed in the world of online entertainment before them that they will become all-around less motivated and more apt to stay at home and watch clickbait videos from scumbag creators that know exactly the psychological coercion they are performing.
After all, if they’re not out catching Pokémon… who will?
For a more in-depth scientific breakdown of dopamine and it’s relationship with motivation, please read this article. I didn’t go into great detail about the science behind clickbait because I didn’t want to make this post any longer.