I saw a video of LeBron shooting hoops with two of his sons a while back.
And, boy, was this thing a rabid engagement manufacturing machine.
It also contains an important lesson on writing engaging copy.
Which brings it across my desk and to your eyeballs.
What had hap’n’d was…
ESPN reshared this video of LeBron, Bronny, and Bryce shooting hoops outside their gawgus LA home.
And then they added the clickbaity title that went something like this:
(I’m paraphrasing here, but the bolded text is verbatim from ESPN’s post and the important part for manufacturing engagement.)
“Watch LeBron and his sons shoot hoops together. Pure comedy.”
Here's the thing…
There was not one even kinda-funny moment in this video. It was as typical a shootaround video you can get with an NBA player and his sons.
It caused quite a hoot in the comment section on Facebook.
There were hundreds of people commenting that this video was a lot of things, but funny was not one of them.
The clickbaity title made people act belligerent in the comment because it wasn’t true.
(But hey, it got these mfs to engage right? I’m not a fan of overtly slanging clickbait and calling it good copy. That said, clickbait—as with everything else in life—has a time and a place and can be a part of an effective strategy.)
The misleading title isn’t the only thing that made this post an engagement machine.
Let’s look at some other aspects which helped:
1. Bron and his sons shot these hoops next to an expensive ass car.
I’m not a car person, so idk what kind of car it was. But this resonated with people who have shyttier cars. I even read a comment from some mf who said he’d move his beat-to-all-shreds car down the street before even picking up a basketball.
Okay, this one’s obvious. But people hate—and I mean, they really loathe—ESPN and their fake woke nonsense they try to jam down everyone’s throat.
I grew up watching ESPN. I’d watch the Sportscenter Top 10 every morning before I hopped in the shower. I watched them religiously when I got off the middle school bus. And I avoid the channel like a person wearing a mask today.
There was a healthy amount of right-leaning commenters talking shyt to ESPN about their decision to prioritize woke politics over sports.
(Lesson in there.)
People love LeBron. And perhaps more importantly, people love to hate on LeBron.
There are certain figures in pop culture that drum up an insane amount of engagement—no matter what they do or say.
LeBron is one of these guys. So is Trump. Kanye. Elon. And now even Rogan to a degree.
If’n you ever need to “shock” your audience back to life…
Drop one of these 4 names in your subject line and watch your open rates skyrocket like your email's attached to Elon’s Roadster.
Before I wrap, lemme learn ya up on a cautionary tale:
Engagement for the sake of engagement can backfire quickfast on ya.
Using clickbait works in the short term — but it burns out your audience over time.
Same with ESPN.
Or name dropping “Trump” in every subject line.
Don’t overuse these tricks.
In fact, this overreliance on “cheap engagement” is what put the nail in ESPN’s content.
They probably saw how going woke resulted in rabid engagement. And morphed their whole business plan into it, instead of, y’know, relying on sports.
So take everything I said here with a big fat grain of paprika.
If’n you need help boosting your email revenue, book a call with me here.
In 2021, I helped one of my clients make more moolah from email marketing alone (~570k) than his entire business made from all his marketing mediums combined in 2019 (~436k).
I’ll let you do the mental math yourself for what this meant for his total revenue generated in 2021 while you debate hitting “reply” or procrastinating yet another day.