We Live in a Clickbait World, And That’s OK

People took Buzzfeed to task on Ben Smith's claim that they don't do clickbait. But brands need to be better at creating content that's clickable.

From Medium
The Challenges of FacebookWorld, via Andrew Golis and Medium

Last week, Buzzfeed’s news editor, Ben Smith, wrote a piece on how Buzzfeed doesn’t do clickbait. Which resulted in a lot of responses like this:

But Smith’s point was well taken in journalism circles. And really, clickbait might depend on your definition of it. So maybe they get off on a technicality. The debate over the definition of clickbait, though, is less important than some other issues. Andrew Golis writes in Medium that there are more important issues surrounding Buzzfeed news and how it exists in what he calls “FacebookWorld.”

The melding of news and social media means we have to think about specific issues, writes Golis. Some of his questions include:

1) What’s missing in FacebookWorld and do we even want to live in it?

2) Can a news organization (like Buzzfeed) be a news organization if it lives in FacebookWorld?

3) Can Buzzfeed build a real, sustainable news business since we all just think of it as a FacebookWorld player?

Smith wrote that “clickbait died in 2009,” and I think these kinds of questions should have died then, too. News organizations have to live in FacebookWorld and new ones will do this naturally. It also doesn’t matter if you want to live in FacebookWorld, we already do; that’s a good question for a graduate class, but in the real world, the ship has sailed. Social media pros can work to make that world more ethical, useful and practical for news organizations, brands and consumers. There should be no “fight” about Buzzfeed and its focus on sharing — if anything we should be asking them how they do it so well.