What Makes You Click?

Out of curiosity, I researched recent Internet usage statistics. The following were found at The Statistics Portal (I’m assuming these are statistics for North American usage only):

Internet Usage Statistics PER MINUTE in June 2018

Forecast requests received by The Weather Channel 18,055,555
Text messages sent 12,986,111
Videos watched by YouTube users 4,333,560
Google searches conducted 3,788,140
Gigabytes of internet traffic generated by Americans 3,138,420
Snaps shared by Snapchat users 2,083,333
Songs streamed on Spotify 750,000
Tweets sent by Twitter users 473,400
Calls made by Skype users 176,220

Twenty-one years ago I wrote a chapter for a writing book on how to use the Internet for research. I reread that article recently–and laughed. Back then, Google didn’t even exist (founded in September 1998, after the book was published), much less Wikipedia (where the jury is still out if it is a reliable source for verifiable facts).

We swim in a sea of data. So how do you discern what to read or view? In other words, what makes you click? Feel free to discuss in the comments below.

Take that same mindset and apply it to your next book idea or article. What would make the consumer buy or click it, especially when faced with a plethora of competing options? Can your idea, your novel, your insight withstand  competitive scrutiny? Obscurity equals no audience. That is why publishers are pushing authors to make their platforms bigger before they will publish them.


12 Responses to What Makes You Click?

  1. Avatar
    Maco Stewart April 29, 2019 at 5:14 am #

    I think we do our duty as enthusiastic, faithful servants and then realize that we do not run the universe. We sow and water, but the ultimate harvest is up to Him, and He will glorify whom He will glorify. This doesn’t mean we slack off and “leave it all up to God,” but it means that once we’ve done our best on all scores, we should heed the Lord’s command (not suggestion) not to worry.

  2. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser April 29, 2019 at 6:34 am #

    When I market my next book,
    you can take or leave ‘er,
    but I think the biggest hook’s
    the six-foot talking beaver.
    Woodland critters do appeal,
    and make for real cool memes
    ‘specially when they conspire to steal
    the car of the villain’s dreams.
    So Bertram Beaver’s backwoods twang
    will be backed up by the bellow
    of what had been the bad guy’s thang
    a Lamborghini in bright yellow.
    So off the shelves it’ll really hustle:
    “Anthropomorphism and Italian Muscle.”

    • Avatar
      Jennifer Mugrage April 29, 2019 at 6:49 am #

      I’d read it.

      In Groundhog Day, the groundhog at one point steals a car, but I think he had some help from Bill Murray.

  3. Avatar
    Jennifer Mugrage April 29, 2019 at 6:42 am #

    About research, I start with Wiki just as we used to start with Britannica. Wiki can help us get the broad outlines of a topic and find more specific terms to search for, and sometimes refer us to hard-copy sources.

    I know that Wiki articles vary. Some can be outrageously slanted or even false. But I do trust it when I’m looking up things like the flora & fauna of Siberia, or the existence of archaeological sites in the Balkans.

    If I want to dive deeply into a topic, I’ll get a book. Then I can triangulate between books and internet articles. Once you are familiar with your field, it’s not too difficult to identify an author’s angle.

    Google has figured out that I’m intetested in archaeology and in Antarctica. Every day it suggests headlines. That’s helpful, even when it’s obvious that some of them are sensationalistic. If the clickbait article seems worth pursuing, I can search the same topic from a reputable publication (bearing in mind that those have their biases too).

  4. Avatar
    Jennifer Mugrage April 29, 2019 at 6:48 am #

    About my own blog post titles, my blog is new enough that I can’t claim to know much about generating traffic.

    If the post is about a specialized topic, I try to include that in the title, e.g. “The Iroquois Kinship System.”

    If the post is a bit of a rant, I love that we are now allowed to make a title out of one or even two sentences to give a flavor of what our argument is going to be. I recently had a post titled, “Haven’t You People Ever Watched Any Sci-Fi?”

  5. Avatar
    Colleen K Snyder April 29, 2019 at 8:50 am #

    Per MINUTE??? That’s insane!!!! 328 million people in the US… and 10% are on the internet at any one time? Okay, that’s just wild. It means that anything you say can pretty much be verified (or vilified) in seconds depending on the source used. As writers, we will need to be very, very accurate with our details. Sigh…

  6. Avatar
    Bryan Mitchell April 29, 2019 at 10:05 am #

    What makes me click? I start with a search engine, and from the listed options, I analyze the URL, title, snippet of details and other things to see if it’s worth a look. When I get to the site if it’s poorly done, riddled with ads or a slideshow, I digress back to the search.

    As far as competitive scrutiny, I feel I have an intriguing piece of work, and I’m taking extra time to polish it by actively reading works from authors I respect. I ask questions like “What’s making this work come to life?” and “Why do I care to keep reading?” Things like that. I highlight things that stand out and take notes. Then I read my work and ask how mine stands up. If it doesn’t, I hammer it out until I feel better about it.

    If I have to go the independent route, a well written novel will be a great foundation to work from. If I make it relevant and intriguing to a large audience, I’ll pick up readers for the next novel. People will read it, and some will take time to recommend it. That number will be dictated on the amount of care I put in the story. Promotion matters a lot but if you promote garbage, you’re really just duping people. “Fool me once shame on you…”

  7. Avatar
    Sharon K Connell April 29, 2019 at 10:14 am #

    What makes me click on a link is when I know the person who has written an article or is giving the information, or when the first line sparks my interest.

    What compels me to choose a story to read is first the cover, and then the blurb. The cover has to be something that makes me want to read the scene which is depicted. The blurb has to make me want to know if the MC will overcome and succeed in the quest.

  8. Avatar
    claire o'sullivan April 29, 2019 at 2:18 pm #

    we use the internet to listen to mostly 1. discipleship/Bible teaching 2. old movies (and I get a few ideas here and there how I’d tweak that) 3. for research on various poisons, methods of murder (LOL please, and seriously send an attorney if someone looks at my disturbing internet perusal) 4. for music to listen to while I write 5. to connect mostly FB followed by Twitter.

    I especially like to connect with different groups of people on Twitter, not just writers, because you never know who will hear the Gospel (which I try to post something Biblical, political, and writing) who is politically in my group and reads the Gospel message? Connecting with various authors gives me vast resources for new reads and to interview on WordPress.

  9. Avatar
    Kathleen Freeman April 29, 2019 at 5:24 pm #

    Fascinating! I mostly use the internet to connect with people and research. If I’m going to describe a scene or song. I want to get it right. It’s a beautiful world.

  10. Avatar
    Robin Mason April 29, 2019 at 8:15 pm #

    Welll… I kinda live on FB… 😮 I also follow LOTS of (writerly) blogs – and share them… I coined the term “Google-n-Go” for my surface research, basic factoids I need for my stories. The step before calling on experts on a subject.
    And I’m addicted to the Weather Channel. Have the app on my phone. I love love love to go for walks, and knowing the temp and humidity and precipitation helps me know if I should get out or not.
    (I just realized I said I “live” on FB but check the weather in the real world! bahahahah)

    By the way, thanks for the data ON Google. That’s one less detail I have to, well, Google, now; current WIP begins in 2007 and I wasn’t sure if they would have Googled something or not…

  11. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D. May 1, 2019 at 8:19 am #

    Steve, I google a boatload of stuff but reserve my school’s library for scholarly stuff. Your comments about platform are so important. I guess that, with the financial responsibility of publishers, they can’t afford to publish every Tom, Dick, and Sheri that comes their way.

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