Posts Tagged ‘Recode’

Clickbait vs. Long-form: What Do Readers Want?

I hardly ever click through on ‘clickbait’ – but that’s just me.

Maybe it’s because I know the tactic well, having studied the art of a compelling, click-driven tweet in my journalism classes at Ohio University. Or maybe it’s because all these “9 things you never knew about leaving guacamole in the refrigerator” articles are starting to wear me down, as a news consumer.

Where are the stories that make me think? Where are the articles so long they blur the line between news and novella? Where is the journalism that’s journalism – and not cute GIFS of cats rolling around in confetti?

And I’m not the only one wondering.  

According to a recent article published on Re/Code – a fabulous, media-focused news source, I might add – Internet wanderers are starting to flock towards long-form, speciality content instead of the assumed clickbait publishers think we want.

A report from BuzzSumo, referenced in the article, claims that long-form articles (3,000–10,000 words) have a significantly higher share-rate than short-form articles (less than 1,000 words).

The author of the article, Joe Hyrkin (CEO of Issuu), also notes how the Internet has successfully fueled a “niche market” of information, where news consumers of varying age and interests find their own corner of the online world and like to linger there awhile.

“Clearly, vibrant subcultures are gaining major momentum online and offline,” Hyrkin writes. “The members of these communities crave content that is relevant, thoughtful and teaches them something new. They are hungry for content that dives deep and adds to their sophisticated knowledge base. For enthusiasts, ‘snackable’ is not enough.”

While, yes, I am one of those news consumers who prefers the long, in-depth review of a particular issue I’m interested in, I have a few hesitations about this “death of snackable content” claim.

Going back to the BuzzSumo survey: Since when did sharing clickbait prove whether you were reading clickbait? While posting a BuzzFeed quiz result is a nice addition to your Facebook feed every once in awhile, I’d wager that most people are selective about their clickbait share choices.

It looks more impressive to your audience or friend group if you share a thoughtful, long-form piece (even if you didn’t actually read it all the way through), instead of sharing every “Which Disney Princess Are You?” clickbait quiz you took.

And another observation, made by one of my brilliant journalism professors – and one I happen to agree with. Think of the motives of Hyrkin and why he might be making this argument about the death of clickbait content.

Issuu is an online magazine publisher’s platform, and magazine pieces are typically long-form features. Of course Hyrkin would be arguing (and hoping) for long-form content to be “in.” His company and livelihood depends on it!

Overall, I’m encouraged to hear that clickbait may be on the downward spiral, and niche, hobbyist-driven content may be on the rise. How refreshing would my Twitter feed be, without the constant threat of clickbait material, forever lurking in my timeline?

As the Internet redefines my generation’s “reading for pleasure,” I just hope it saves some long-form links for me.

Bethany N. Bella is studying journalism, anthropology, and geography at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Connect with her on Twitter @bethanynbella or browse her work at

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

New questions for a new Twitter product

Twitter is said to be introducing a product to expand its 140 character limit, according to reports. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

Twitter is said to be introducing a product to expand its 140 character limit, according to reports. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons under CC license)

A report emerged today that Twitter is to expand its 140 character limit, by way of a new product. According to a report from the tech news site Recode, the product would allow long form content to be published to the social network.

Twitter hasn’t unveiled any plans officially, but multiple sources with the social network told Recode that the product has the support of interim CEO Jack Dorsey. Dorsey and his team have been trying to fix user growth issues that were at the helm of its recent quarterly earnings. Twitter celebrates its tenth birthday next year, so if the network confirms that this product is going ahead, it may pay off in the long run for its investors and users.

For the media industry however, the news of this product presents a two-fold scenario – first, it is likely to set to compete with Facebook which has more characters to work with as well as the ability to publish long form content through Instant Articles. This may put more users off Facebook and may send more to content journalists and news organizations are promoting on Twitter.

The second is the issue of audience engagement and journalism on Twitter. With this product becoming available, there will likely be opportunities to do more when it comes to breaking news in addition to other pieces. Journalists can experiment more with Twitter and help create elements of a story that can be fresh and inviting, that allow their coverage of a particular beat or event to be distinct.

This news also comes ahead of the launch of Project Lightning, currently likely to be at the end of the year, so this may lead to new ways into how news organizations can retain and attract users of the social network.

Although very little is known about the product, it is likely to warrant a significant evaluation of a newsroom’s social strategy, and may put Twitter above other social networks. If this does indeed go ahead, it will signal not just a win for Twitter on its user growth problems, but for news organizations too, not just for content, but for engaging new audiences.

For now, however, we must wait, and see what’s in store. Perhaps, the new year may present new ideas for newsrooms, and another unique chapter in Twitter’s relationship with the journalism community.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to the SPJ blog network on British media issues and social media’s role in the future of journalism.

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Co-Student Life Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.


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