This is oldish news, (from February of 2014, which is basically 100 Internet years), but Facebook cracked down on linkbaity headlines and introduced an algorithm with the goal of ensuring that high quality content was being shown in news feeds. In particular, this struck a huge blow against Upworthy, an Internet sensation that was reaching upwards of 90 million people worldwide.
If you’re not familiar with Upworthy, you’ll probably recognize their headline style, which is generally along the lines of:
- This dog found a panda bear, and what happened will make you cry!
- An extreme couponer went shopping, and you won’t believe what happened next!
- This man lost 40 pounds, and you won’t believe what he ate to do it!
As a result of the Facebook update, within a two month span, Upworthy’s reach had declined approximately 50 percent. There’s no question that a large portion of the blame for Upworthy’s traffic falling off a cliff was due to the social network’s algorithm changes. (Facebook is a huge aggregator of web traffic. During a two hour long outage that occurred a few months ago, mobile traffic dropped by nearly 9 percent.) However, it’s important to note that Facebook alone hasn’t been responsible for Upworthy becoming downworthy.
In my Twitter feed (yes, I’m aware this is about as non-sciencey as you can get), people have started to call for a variety of punishments for authors with Upworthy style headlines, and the Twitter Feed @SavedYouAClick has over 160K followers. Adding weight to the idea that it isn’t all Facebook’s fault is the fact that Upworthy’s traffic has continued to tumble.
What’s My Point?
Believe it or not, I do have one, and it is the importance of understanding that:
- There’s a shelf life on gimmicks
- The way that people do things change
Evergreen Marketing! (Evergreen is defined as 6 months)
I’m not going to lie; if there was an easy way to drive lots of traffic to a site that I owned and I could make money from it, I’d probably be pushing people out of the way to get started. However, be sure to get off that wave before you’re pulled under or sharks eat you or … um, something that makes this metaphor make sense. (Please note that I am in no way advocating tricking people or engaging in illegal activity. Upworthy’s process was totally legal and people pretty much knew it was linkbait – they were just okay with that for a while.)
The Only Thing That Stays The Same Is Change
Even if you’re not going with the “new hotness” (that’s how kids these days talk, right?) marketing plan, it’s important to remember that people’s ways of shopping and searching do change over time. Now everything, including haircuts, seem to be gluten free, something people weren’t even aware of five years ago. If you’re finding your sales or traffic slumping or are just looking for improvements, you might consider trying to make sure that you’re not using outdated marketing methods.