SHARK ATTACK! [My Bikini]

16 replies
Okay, so I had a debate with another Internet marketer the other day. She made a vague comment about how it's important to "clickbait" people without scamming them during a discussion about best practices to drive more traffic to a website. So, I pressed for details about what constitutes "scamming" people in her mind.

She replied with a beach/ocean analogy. She said if she'd written a blog or posted a video about a day at the beach, then it would be wrong to use a title like SHARK ATTACK! and include a thumbnail of a shark to try to draw people in. She said that's a "scam" and it would be much better, and more honest, to post a picture of herself in a bikini and use a title more like MY DAY AT THE BEACH.

I thought "scam" was too strong a word for that scenario. Marketing of any kind needs to be truthful, yes ... but the very essence of marketing is to "stretch the truth" just enough to pique people's interest so they click on your link.

I used her beach analogy again. I said she could easily (ethically) use the title SHARK ATTACK! in the same scenario, along with a thumbnail of a shark fin, if she made the story about her sunbathing on the beach and suddenly being shocked by seeing a shark fin out in the ocean only to realize, after the fact, that it was just some kids playing with a shark fin toy. She could then discuss the pros and cons of kids playing with shark fin toys in a public beach area, how it might give Grandpa an unnecessary heart attack, and then go on to talk about all the other sights and sounds from her relaxing day at the beach. That will bring in more readers than MY DAY AT THE BEACH ever will ... unless the bikini picture is downright amazing. I suppose, at the end of the day, sex sells as well as sharks do. Maybe even better.

Where's your line on this "marketing ethics" scale? And why?
#attack #bikini #clickbait #clickbaiting #ethical marketing #sex sells #shark #shark attack
  • Profile picture of the author vedremo
    Banned
    Originally Posted by Best Seller View Post

    Okay, so I had a debate with another Internet marketer the other day. She made a vague comment about how it's important to "clickbait" people without scamming them during a discussion about best practices to drive more traffic to a website. So, I pressed for details about what constitutes "scamming" people in her mind.

    She replied with a beach/ocean analogy. She said if she'd written a blog or posted a video about a day at the beach, then it would be wrong to use a title like SHARK ATTACK! and include a thumbnail of a shark to try to draw people in. She said that's a "scam" and it would be much better, and more honest, to post a picture of herself in a bikini and use a title more like MY DAY AT THE BEACH.

    I thought "scam" was too strong a word for that scenario. Marketing of any kind needs to be truthful, yes ... but the very essence of marketing is to "stretch the truth" just enough to pique people's interest so they click on your link.

    I used her beach analogy again. I said she could easily (ethically) use the title SHARK ATTACK! in the same scenario, along with a thumbnail of a shark fin, if she made the story about her sunbathing on the beach and suddenly being shocked by seeing a shark fin out in the ocean only to realize, after the fact, that it was just some kids playing with a shark fin toy. She could then discuss the pros and cons of kids playing with shark fin toys in a public beach area, how it might give Grandpa an unnecessary heart attack, and then go on to talk about all the other sights and sounds from her relaxing day at the beach. That will bring in more readers than MY DAY AT THE BEACH ever will ... unless the bikini picture is downright amazing. I suppose, at the end of the day, sex sells as well as sharks do. Maybe even better.

    Where's your line on this "marketing ethics" scale? And why?
    I don't think there's a one size fits all. It depends on the audience, how well it's done and whether there's backlash or not.

    It's a bit like "The boy who cried wolf".

    If the user feels "scammed" / misled then the chances of opening the email / clicking the link will decrease in future.

    Combing the 2 can work well, some writers do it well. Something like:
    1. "Shark Attack"
    2. First line in article. "Okay, so it wasn't really a shark attack, but something amazing did happen at the beach ... "
    3. What actually happened: They needed sunscreen (insert global warming commentary).

    Personally lean towards something like the above - a bit of "puffery" but not enough for people to feel the need to revolt / leave an unpleasant comment. If done well can actually enhance the brand, some people appreciate the creativity, but maintaining trust is important for repeat visitors.
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    • Profile picture of the author ryanbiddulph
      Getting immediately to #2 can make this work nicely. No waste of time really, quick redirect and then on to the meat of the email.

      Ryan
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  • Profile picture of the author ryanbiddulph
    It's all clarity, BS. I had to use your initials to make it sound funny and topical

    Seriously; if you get clear on this delivery as a marketer you are A-OK using it, and you will pull it off seamlessly. I mean in either case. Because you will attract the very folks who love this delivery and find it funny, entertaining and helpful as can be but only if you are doing it from a higher energy space, a good space, a helpful space.

    You will attract a handful of critics too but this is the way things go.

    As for the folks who seem to attract all types of criticism and heavy scam or spam or whatever you wanna call it type accusations, these folks are unclear on either approach. They are doing it primarily from a place of fear - aka, they are terrified deep down nobody will click and do their best to manipulate folks from that afraid place - and this deep fear gets mirrored back to them in the form of a big backlash. A really big backlash.

    I use funny copy here and there but I am not clear on saying one thing and then, deviating from that 1 thing to take folks in another direction. That's just me though. Some folks do it with clarity and flare and they do a darn fine job drawing in a loyal following who really enjoys their delivery and learns a ton in the process too.

    All about your level of clarity. Do it main from a fun energy and you will draw in folks who dig the slight of hand. This is the way to make it work and to help folks in the process through the clever art of redirection, and....well.....borderline click bait

    Ryan
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    • Profile picture of the author Best Seller
      Originally Posted by ryanbiddulph View Post

      ...you will attract the very folks who love this delivery and find it funny, entertaining and helpful as can be but only if you are doing it from a higher energy space, a good space, a helpful space.
      Very true, Ryan. It all has to come from a high energy, helpful, positive place ... no matter what approach you take.
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    • Profile picture of the author Best Seller
      Originally Posted by ryanbiddulph View Post

      It's all clarity, BS. I had to use your initials to make it sound funny and topical
      Ha ha! I just got this. BS. Awesome.
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  • Profile picture of the author DABK
    If I go to the beach and never get in the water because I'm afraid of shark attacks?

    This is a true statement:
    I am the conqueror of Vietnam.

    It is true if I is DABK, that is. Because I did conquer Vietnam once, in my dream. Well, to be precise, the dream was all about me, leading my Vietnam-conquering army through the streets of Hanoi. I was on the requisite white horse, wearing the requisite big hat with plumes, the requisite epaulets and, of course, all were in awe of me.

    Like others said, there are many ways to make a statement true and not misleading yet clickbaity. Just do the required work.

    Like others, I mind feeling cheated, I don't mind shocking/strange/extravagant/odd headlines.
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve B
    Originally Posted by Best Seller View Post

    ... but the very essence of marketing is to "stretch the truth" just enough to pique people's interest so they click on your link.

    Sorry BestSeller or BS, or whatever you want to be called,

    I don't agree with this statement at all. The very essence of marketing is not stretching the truth. There are lots and lots of ways to creatively pique people's interests while at the same time being perfectly truthful and ethical.

    IMO, "stretching the truth" means you are not being completely honest with what you are telling someone. How does your viewer or prospect know if you are 95% truthful, 75% truthful, 30%, 10%, 1% ... they don't and can never be sure. The point is, no one but you really knows the full truth and as a marketer, IMO, to be ethical is not to mislead or confuse someone.

    In your example about the shark fin toy, if that really did happen (if it really was the truth) then your headline could be accurate. But if it was made up, then I think you should find another headline. There are lots of ways to be truthful and not "stretch the truth" as you're suggesting.


    Originally Posted by Best Seller View Post

    Where's your line on this "marketing ethics" scale? And why?
    I guess my line is pretty "hard." If something you say or print is the truth, it's ethical. If it's "stretching the truth," in my book, what you're saying or writing is something less than the truth.

    I know others will disagree. I know many people are comfortable stretching the truth to some degree.

    Here's my question to anyone that thinks my view is too stringent:

    As a consumer on the buyer's side of this debate . . . which would you rather make your buying decision based on . . . marketing that was truthful or marketing that was "stretching the truth?"

    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Singletary
    I wrote a reply yesterday but wound up not posting it (I forget what happened as to why I didn't post). It basically said what Steve said. However, he said he it much more clearly and eloquently. I agree 100% with his post.

    Mark
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
    There used to be a member here who bragged about making money with Amazon reviews composed of what he called "little fictions".

    These "little fictions" were outright lies about having searched day and night for solutions until he found Product X, which provided the miracle he was seeking.

    Your shark fin story bears a dangerously close resemblance to one of these "little fictions", unless, of course, the incident actually happened.

    There's a marked difference between clickbait and outright deception.
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  • Profile picture of the author DeadRooster
    I could do this one...

    "No Shark Attack... But When I Jumped In Wearing My New Swimsuit, They Ran From The Water Just The Same"
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  • Profile picture of the author ChrisBa
    Originally Posted by Best Seller View Post

    Okay, so I had a debate with another Internet marketer the other day. She made a vague comment about how it's important to "clickbait" people without scamming them during a discussion about best practices to drive more traffic to a website. So, I pressed for details about what constitutes "scamming" people in her mind.

    She replied with a beach/ocean analogy. She said if she'd written a blog or posted a video about a day at the beach, then it would be wrong to use a title like SHARK ATTACK! and include a thumbnail of a shark to try to draw people in. She said that's a "scam" and it would be much better, and more honest, to post a picture of herself in a bikini and use a title more like MY DAY AT THE BEACH.

    I thought "scam" was too strong a word for that scenario. Marketing of any kind needs to be truthful, yes ... but the very essence of marketing is to "stretch the truth" just enough to pique people's interest so they click on your link.

    I used her beach analogy again. I said she could easily (ethically) use the title SHARK ATTACK! in the same scenario, along with a thumbnail of a shark fin, if she made the story about her sunbathing on the beach and suddenly being shocked by seeing a shark fin out in the ocean only to realize, after the fact, that it was just some kids playing with a shark fin toy. She could then discuss the pros and cons of kids playing with shark fin toys in a public beach area, how it might give Grandpa an unnecessary heart attack, and then go on to talk about all the other sights and sounds from her relaxing day at the beach. That will bring in more readers than MY DAY AT THE BEACH ever will ... unless the bikini picture is downright amazing. I suppose, at the end of the day, sex sells as well as sharks do. Maybe even better.

    Where's your line on this "marketing ethics" scale? And why?
    I don't think it's unethical at all, yes it might be clickbait, but I don't think ethics come into play, unless of course it's a downright lie "click this image now to get a free shark", "this shark is giving away 100 free bottles of weight loss pills", etc
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  • Profile picture of the author clairelynn23
    Great topic. Comments have been great and made me really think about some things differently.
    You want to attract... But a big difference in making yourself look nice and cleaned up vs. doing something outrageous to get noticed.
    Anyway, really interesting topic.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    Struck a chord for me...(I could have written that blurb)

    SHARK ATTACK! [My Bikini...]

    ... wasn't enough to protect me from a very curious shark.

    Do you know how long it takes to heal if a shark scrapes against your bare stomach as he swims under you? I do - it ain't pretty.
    Could be a great lead in for bathing suits, shark repellent or triple antibiotic cream.



    To me, if you can carry a headline into a story line...you're OK. If you have to start by admitting the headline is meaningless or false...forget it.
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    • Profile picture of the author Best Seller
      Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

      To me, if you can carry a headline into a story line...you're OK. If you have to start by admitting the headline is meaningless or false...forget it.
      Yes! Agreed!
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  • Profile picture of the author coxmg
    when i saw this... SHARK ATTACK! [My Bikini...] i knew it would probably be a joke or a figurative reference
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    • Profile picture of the author Best Seller
      Originally Posted by coxmg View Post

      when i saw this... SHARK ATTACK! [My Bikini...] i knew it would probably be a joke or a figurative reference
      Yes. And it still made you click. So, that's okay. Right? No harm, no foul.
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