If you’re a woman on Facebook, you’ve probably seen this ad (or one like it) on your wall:

Cutting down a bit of the belly each day is easy by simply using this 1 weird old tip. Click here to see what it is…

It’s a winning combination of words and phrases and you see a similar structure all over the web, in magazines and in tabloids.  Here's why these "clickbait"ads are so effective:

They tout something limited, and therefore achievable. We’re all stressed out and busy – stretched to the limit. But we can manage “1 tip,” or “four quick ways to…” or “three simple steps to…” 

They advocate something different… If the method for cutting down belly fat is “weird,” it’s likely not something you’ve tried before (like dieting, which is hard, or exercising, which is even more difficult). It’s intriguing, and maybe it’ll be easier than the “normal” way (which you’ve tried, and weren’t successful at).

They're serious. It’s 1 weird “old” tip. It’s been around. It’s not scientific, which is threateningly intellectual, but it’s “old,” which gives it the gravitas you need to believe it. It’s something that people once knew but that has since been forgotten or lost – up until now, when you happened to stumble upon it on the internet.

They recommend something easy. It’s a “tip.” Sometimes it’s “1 simple trick,” or “1 easy step” – the important thing is that it seems achievable. Unlike, for example, a process, methodology, or regime. Nobody wants those. Too hard.

They're personal. A tip is something you’d get from a friend. It’s insider information, compelling, tried and true.

They're suspenseful. “Click here to see what it is…” It’s a tease, a come-on. It’s so good they’re not going to give it away right here on your wall. You’re going to work for it a (little) bit… It’s got to be good!

There are variations on this theme, of course. Sometimes the method is “old” or “weird,” but “rare,” “unique” and “remote” also work well. Sometimes it’s a “sneaky trick” – something that gets around the problem – or a “simple trick” – something you just hadn’t heard of until now. Sometimes it’s a “new discovery” – a double whammy since it’s new to you and to the world. Science hasn’t disproven it yet. Science can be such a drag… Sometimes it’s “forgotten.” “Forgotten,” as mentioned above, works like “old.” It’s got the weight of the ages behind it, but it got lost in the rush of modernity. Now it’s back, and it’s going to help you.

Does the tip for losing belly fat work? Probably not. Does the ad work? Definitely!


AuthorJinnean Barnard