The Anatomy of an Online Click

“Click on me! Click on me, please!” pages scream from the n-th social media platform, blog and online offering.

What really causes people to click on things? Of course there are the offline reasons: I saw it on a convincing commercial, my friend was talking about it, I’ve used this brand for years.

What causes a person to decide to click on something that they’ve never heard of before while they’re just online browsing around?

The closest thing to choosing what to click might just be picking out apples at a market. The true apple connoisseur has learned with time not to buy those gigantic, ultra red apples. Something’s off with those apples and we’ve learned that the taste will be bland. And of course we don’t want an apple that will be too small, either. We’re looking for an apple that best exemplifies “apple”-ness without being so try-hard as to be suspicious.

Also, when we want apples, we want apples. So if a pear crosses our path in the apple bin we usually don’t think, “Actually, yes, a pair is what I want.” We tend to think that the store clerk isn’t on top of their job. So, categorization is also important. Your online offerings need to be properly placed and look at least a little like what’s representative of that particular genre.

If a new type of apple was to come out on the apple-scene, we’d probably give it a shot because, hey, it’s an apple and it has our immediate attention, pressing us with its immediate questions. So, differentiation within categorization can be advantageous as well.

What about symbolism? Can online offerings be symbolic in the sense that they promise to offer more than the face value of their pixels? In Man and His Symbols, Carl Jung suggested that certain visual representations could cause people to enter a trance-like state in which they accessed their unconscious minds. Could it be that some online offerings simply cause us to get momentarily “dreamy” and it is within this “dreamy” state that we make the decision to click?

About davidwallacefleming

David Wallace Fleming is a U.S. writer, living in Austin, Texas. He is the author of the coming-of-age, social media novel GROWING UP WIRED, and the satirical science fiction audiobook, NOT FROM CONCENTRATE.
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