Click Bait (or, Vague Hyperbole from Hell)

You see it, all over Facebook stories, ads, banners, videos on YouTube, even your Google search results.

“This one weird trick…what he saw next floored him…you won’t believe what happens next…she is stunned when this happens…advertisers HATE this…restore your faith in humanity…will shock you…” and how many times do we need to read the next reason why JLaw is our perfect BFF? Well, apparently one more time, because I, personally, love

Why are these phrases so overused? And why, oh why, do we fall for them, even if we roll our eyes to the ceiling when we read them? Can’t help it. Want to know. Is there some information in there that I will miss out on? I’ll just peek at it, I can always go on to the next story.

Since it seems like human nature to fear missing out on something (especially something as simple as a short article with possibly life-changing, or immensely uplifting info), we marketers just can’t resist. I see the seduction–you probably can get more clicks, more readers by using the allure of the “bait”.

It’s all about the “mystery sandwich”: you create a vacuum in between the reader and the story. Nature abhors a vacuum, so you suck them right in. It’s emotional physics. Bing! Done. You’ve achieved your metrics.

I am an idealist (sometimes unfortunately), and I like to try to stick to my guns. That could mean with a bit of extra work, coming up with a story that is genuinely readable and gets me clicks, or possibly, not much. Back to the drawing board.

And, since we now have a word for those stupid phrases (that get lots of clicks, yes I know), I would rather not be knows as a purveyor of that type of rubbish.

Now, back to that article: “Watch this video to find the true meaning of life!”

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The Perfect Testimonial

The other day I was taking a moment to write a review of my stylist on Yelp. And I really took time, thought about why I love my stylist (besides the fact that she makes my hair look super good). I must say, the review is excellent, and not only does it say Carmen is a good stylist, it says WHY Carmen is a good stylist: she is personal, gives a haircut that is tailored for me, no one cuts my hair as expertly as her, I can trust her, she makes sure I’m satisfied and on and on.

I mean, it’s the “perfect testimonial”, giving all the reasons why you would want to go to a hair stylist when there are thousands of them out there.

Testimonials can be utterly priceless for a business, and many times these testimonials and the word of mouth that businesses can inspire with outstanding service are the mainstay of a businesses promotion. Sometimes, an advertisement just can’t give the impact that a well-written testimonial or WOM can, simply because the words are unsolicited. It comes from the customers themselves.

I have had a frustrated kind of love historically with testimonials. At a company that sold enterprise software to Fortune 500 companies (Diskeeper Corporation), I would get excellent testimonials all the time. Yet, I would be unable to use them, because of the “no-endorsement” policies most of these companies would have. Use to really cheese me off–you can’t tell the public that we have a great product and it works really well for you?? Yes. But you use and love our product. Yes. What? I would end up using the testimonials without any name or company attribution, which did help, but did not have the power of having the Fortune 500 company name attached.

When I moved on to another company who gave business consultation to auto repair shop owners (Management Success!), I was in complete heaven. Not only did the auto shop owners LOVE us and how we were able to boost their businesses, but they would literally do anything for me; say anything I wanted in a testimonial (although what came out of their own mouths was always the best), get good pictures taken of themselves, send me tons of pictures of their garages and their staff, let me visit their garages, talk about us in trade magazine articles, pose for odd/funny/silly pictures I needed and more.

So I’ve been in both sides of the spectrum and learned a lot about getting and using testimonials. With the internet, now more than ever, being a user-driven content playing field, I know for sure that you need people talking about you and talking about you positively. Because those users read and listen to it all. And boy, do they love to talk!

(check out my review for my stylist here, I’m Lisa S.)

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