or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk



This One Weird Trick Will Increase Library Program Attendance!

   March 17th, 2017

One of the things I truly hate, hate, is clickbait. I find myself specifically not clicking on things that sound clickbaity, just because I feel insulted by something thinking I can be manipulated. (That'll teach 'em.)

Especially though when it is totally unnecessary. A recent Lifehacker article entitled "This Secret Trick Will Save You From Getting Lost In Central Park Forever" could have just as easily, and less annoyingly, been titled, "How To Use Central Park Lampposts To Avoid Getting Lost." I still would have clicked and read, and would have felt less dirty about it.

Of course these show up as links all over the internet, but I've also seen a trend on YouTube to name videos with clickbait titles too. One of the channels I used to watch, Wranglestar, has become terrible for this, and I've all but stopped watching him because of it. Recently though, he published a video explaining why he uses clickbait video titles. It was interesting, and the tl;dw version is that he found it to be the only way to make money on YouTube anymore: regular titles don't get clicked, which means videos don't get watched, which means no monetized ad revenues for him.

If it is that effective, maybe library ought to pay attention. So, just as a "funny thing to think about but I would never do for real" project, here are a few of our library programs re-titled as clickbait:

Now those would totally boost our attendance numbers.




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8 Responses to “This One Weird Trick Will Increase Library Program Attendance!”

  1. Becky Says:

    OMG-these are HILARIOUS! Thanks for making me laugh straight through the last 2 minutes of my work day.

  2. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Becky: ha! You’re welcome. I’ll be looking forward now to the next events calendar for Cambridge!

  3. Adrianne Says:

    Love it! Thank you – funny and a great idea!

  4. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Adrianne: you’re welcome – thanks for the comment, and I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  5. Cari Says:

    We have actually been doing this for real programs… hehe

    Sample titles: You Won’t Believe What They Did in the Library (program about fake news)
    Off the Grid with your Grand(Kid) (how to get kids off the Internet)
    I Heart You and Computers, Too! (Valentine’s Day craft that you can find on Pinterest)

  6. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Cari: ha, that is awesome. Have you noticed any uptick in attendance, or get any comments on the names?

  7. Amy Says:

    I realize your post is very tongue in cheek, but as a blogger who also works as a social media manager for my county library I can tell you that click bait does work. When I use click bait to promote my blog posts, I get any where from 10 to 50 times the click through on my posts than I normally do. It’s just a matter of finding the interest and piqueing it.

  8. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Amy: mostly, yes, but really only kind of. The YouTube video I liked to was fascinating – I mean, I was always sure clickbait worked or else it wouldn’t be so wide-spread, but it was interesting to hear a real person explain that he switched because it was so much more effective. Especially since he said he didn’t care that his regular viewers were irritated by it, because the views he got from clickbait titles outweighed the views he got from his actual fans.

    So yes, I think there’s a lot of lessons libraries can take from this. Would you mind sharing some of the titles you’ve used – I’m curious to read some that are effective without being totally “You Must Read This Or Die Horribly!” over the top.


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