We Can’t Stop Thinking About Linkbait “News” Kittens and What It Means for the Future of Media

Content strategy is at the root of all of our integrated communications programs at tMa, and when it comes to strategy, there’s one kind of content we can’t stand: linkbait headlines, designed specifically to gain attention, drive click-throughs and encourage shares.

 Pictured: tMA's Aaron Colter and his cat

 Pictured: tMA's Aaron Colter and his cat

Which brings us to kittens.

Typically, we see linkbait prevalent across the major tech blogs. But this week’s non-news subject -- Uber’s on-demand kitten stunt -- was covered by mainstream and tech press alike. Check out all the media outlets which couldn’t help but get in on the linkbait fun:

 

  • ABC News - On-Demand Kitten Service Launched to Celebrate National Cat Day  
  • Business Insider - Uber Will Let You Order A Kitten To Your Office Today
  • CNET - Uber delivers adoptable kittens to your doorstep
  • Dallas Observer - Damnit Uber: Dallas Needs Kitten Delivery
  • Digiday - You Can (Probably Not) Has Uber Kitten
  • Digital Trends - Uber and Cheezburger are partnering to fill your office with kittens … yes, really [UPDATE] Uber experiencing kitten shortage
  • Mashable - Kitten Delivery Promotion Leads to Uber Cat Shortage
  • Valleywag - Uber Is Literally Delivering “On-Demand Kittens”

The list goes on and on -- CNNMoney, Wep Pro News, TheNextWeb, Geekwire, Daily Caller, SFist, Fast Company, and countless others. When it comes to linkbait, they all play the game.

Don't get us wrong -- we like Uber. We use Uber as a team on a regular basis. But since the company didn't have any expansions or new technology to announce, this was simply a marketing campaign which didn’t emphasize Uber’s core strengths. And we’re not blaming any of these media outlets for jumping on the kitten train. In today’s desperate chase for page views and ad revenue, they probably feel they have no choice. See Vanessa’s post just yesterday, where she mentioned that linkbait posts are just a symptom to much larger media trends.

However, we opt not to play the linkbait game, and counsel our clients to do the same. It’s a matter of principle, really. Plus, when people see through the linkbait, it can really damage credibility. And credibility is a precious thing to protect. Ultimately, we’re confident that media consumers want quality content and substance -- and want to know how our clients fit into their lives, and where the world’s going.

All that said, please do consider adopting a kitten today.