Millenial Mind Control: The Ethics of Clickbait

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.

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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…

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… Tragic.

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.

78d081081904390ac720a8741724f17aPeople 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.

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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.

Spread the Wealth: The Importance of Valuable Content for your Business

Chances are that if you are running a business, you know something about your product or service that the average person does not. If you give music lessons, you (hopefully) know how to play your instrument better than the average Joe. If you’re a doctor, you probably went to school for years and years to learn about your specific practice – and that knowledge is the most important asset to your company’s marketing.

The world of marketing is always changing – and I think it’s important for business owners to understand that the days of growing your business online simply by advertising your product are long gone. Your average Facebook browser is not going to take time out of their day to check out your business just because you said you have the best pizza in Massachusetts. You have to SHOW people the quality of your product without even telling them about your product.

I know that sounds confusing, so I’ll clarify by giving you an example. Let’s say a guy named Chris from Newton, Massachusetts has been experiencing some lower back pain and he thinks it might be caused by his posture at work – so he takes to the internet. He Googles “Lower back pain caused by bad posture at work” and he stumbles upon a blog post. In the article, the writer – a doctor who owns his own clinic in Wilmington, Mass – provides valuable information that he learned in his years in school and in the field as well as links to several other articles that Chris finds helpful. Before you know it Chris has already formed a relationship with this doctor without even standing up from his chair. THAT is the importance of valuable content online. If Chris does decide at some point down the road that he’ll pay a chiropractor a visit, even if it is years down the line, that doctor is at the top of his list instantly.

Gary_Vaynerchuk_public_domainAs per usual, entrepreneurial juggernaut Gary Vaynerchuk was miles ahead of the curve on this subject. More than four years ago, he posted a video called “Every Single One of You is a Media Company” and in that video he said “If you are not putting out content that is bringing value to people… You are being drowned out”. The fact that it is so unbelievably easy to put out valuable content for free means that everyone is doing it, so if you are not, your business is destined to fail.

Marketing is a complicated field and since most marketing is online nowadays, the pace at which it changes is faster and more unpredictable than ever. But even so, I firmly believe that producing relevant, valuable content about your product or service will remain an effective marketing strategy for a very long time.