Clickbait is a scammy tactic aimed at making people click on links to revenue-generating webpages. The tactic relies on sensational headlines and eye-catching thumbnail images.
A Dallas bookstore The Wild Detectives has found the way to turn the scam into good cause. Instead of clicking on ads, people were encouraged to read books.
On September 6, 2016 (a National Read a Book Day), the bookstore started sharing across its social media channels links to articles that were looking like a pure clickbait.
The sensational headlines turned out to be cleverly described plots of famous classic books.
Let’s have a look (and let’s see if you could resist clicking on the links):
- German doctor becomes first to perform full body transplant – Frankenstein by Mary Shelley,
- British guy dies after selfie gone wrong – The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde,
- Romanian man discovers shocking fact about garlic that will give you nightmares – Dracula by Bram Stoker,
- This Italian politician makes Trump look like a saint – The Prince by Nicolo Machiavelli,
- Backpacker had the worst trip of his life when island tribe attacked him with poop – Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift,
- Teenage girl tricked boyfriend into killing himself – Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare>.
Let’s say you are attracted by the headline about the first ever full-body transplant. You click on the link, and you directed to The Wild Detectives’ profile at Medium.
The headline is followed by a short introduction that explains the trick:
You fell for the bait, now fall for the book. Read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley below.
What you see below – and what you can start reading immediately – is the text of the book. What’s important, it’s the entire text, not a free sample or a first chapter.
It’s possible thanks to the fact that the books used for the campaign are already in public domain. It means they can be legally republished and reused.
It was a very clever idea to put the novels on Medium publishing platform. The platform, founded by Ev Williams and Biz Stone, is perfect for long-form social journalism.
What’s also interesting, one of the default features Medium provides is read time, displayed at the top of the article. It informs about the approximate time you’ll need to finish reading. The calculation is based on the average reading speed of an adult – 275 word per minute.
Adweek reports that Litbaits yielded a 14,000% boost in traffic to The Wild Detectives profile on Medium. It also increased post engagement on Facebook by 150%.
The creatives behind the campaign are Marta Matías, Jesse Echevarria, Marina Cuesta, and Raúl Méndez.
Litbaits – clever campaign using fake news to encourage people to read
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