Full disclosure… I live in the Buffalo, NY area and I love this city.
That being said, the viral posts about us making random top 10 lists are getting a little redundant.
I don’t think I’ve ever written a blog rant on here… but here we go.
If you live here, you’ve probably seen them.
Some of them are pretty legit and great PR for the Queen City.
- National Geographic places Buffalo as the third best food city in the world
- Yahoo sends Katie Couric here to do a piece on the city
But other lists seem a little less credible and you wonder what the motives are behind the listing.
Take, for example, an About.com listing Buffalo, NY as the #5 travel destination in the world.
If you visit their site, within one minute you will get this popup.
First off, hats off to them on changing the “No thanks” option to “I like paying for flights.”
Great use of cognitive dissonance there to push more subscribers.
In my opinion… About.com is only writing this article for viral exposure to create email opt-ins for an offer related to travel.
They mix in normal hot spot vacation sites like Paris or Rome with small town homers such as Buffalo and Richmond, VA.
Now, this is just speculation…
… but I doubt people in Paris or Rome got really excited when they saw their city on the list and rushed to share it on social media.
Here in Buffalo, we eat it up because we want people to know how special our city is.
We’re like the youngest sibling in a huge family jumping up and down for someone to notice us!
There is an absolute resurgence happening in Buffalo, NY.
But, online publications use that pride to fuel their own agendas…
- The 10 second ad in front of Katie’s video
- The email opt-in popup on About.com
- The scrolling ads that follow this CNN list
Travel and Leisure did a masterful job of this.
They ran a survey and asked readers to rank US cities (with a population over 100,000) based on a variety of factors.
Buffalo, NY came in #1, “by scoring very well in one category: people think it’s been wildly underrated.”
So, they pretty much polled their subscribers and mined data from them to create an article that they would be very likely to share.
They compose their list and email their subscribers to say that the results are in.
Oh… and you have to scroll to the very bottom and try not to click on a plethora of ads on the way.
Why is there so much bad news… on the news?
Buffalo isn’t the only victim.
We all know that the news is driven by ratings because the ratings (in part) decide how much the commercial spots are worth.
The bad news tends to shock us more and keep our attention and drive ratings.
When it comes to websites, the motives are still the same:
Drive traffic and exposure in order to drive ad revenue.
On July 19th, Trending Buffalo ran a piece on Buffalo being the #1 rated city for weather.
Channel 7 News ran a story about it even though the story was completely made up.
Now, it could be dubbed a “satire” article.
But, realistically, it is a piece created to drive social shares and traffic to increase ad revenue clicks on their website.
A silver lining…
Many of the bogus articles, such as the #1 Weather City, are being cracked down on via a change to Facebook’s algorithm.
NBC News reported on this that Facebook posts with headlines that make bogus or exaggerated claims will get less exposure.
This might not stop a fake article from going viral, but we should start seeing less and less clickbait in titles.
You know the ones…
“9 Places Everyone Must Visit Before They Die… You’ll Never Believe #5!”
I, for one, love the city of Buffalo.
I appreciate seeing all the positive press the city has been receiving…
but… can we just simmer down on the list posts for awhile?