The Search team at Distilled has a linkbait meeting most Thursdays. Sometimes it's for clients, sometimes it's for our projects and sometimes it's just to talk about some of the awesome ideas we keep having. One of the ideas that came out of our last meeting was to trial a 'Weekly Linkbait Roundup'. It's obviously still in beta but I think this could be a really useful regular post (even though I'm not sure what it will evolve into yet!), and I'd love your feedback.
I have three initial aims for it, at least to begin with:
i) to highlight a few of the best or most interesting bits of linkbait produced in the last week. (We're not trying to 'call' people out here. All we want to do is take a look at some of the great content that's been produced and discuss why it fits the 'linkbait' mold.)
ii) to discuss why they worked well
iii) to idly wonder if we can learn from their success in some way
1. First up, we have a post from www.maclife.com. It's entitled 50 Things Every Mac Geek Should Know. It went hot on Digg with 2251 diggs, did ok on reddit and got loads of stumble and delicious love. Links wise, Yahoo site explorer is reporting about 250 inbound links.
2. Next, here's a wonderful post entitled Clever and Creative Bus Advertising from www.toxel.com, a design, inspiration and tech website that produces a lot of really great content. It has 1010 diggs, 60 points on reddit and has two Stumble stars (does anyone have a better metric than this? Apart from reviews?). 58 inbound links reported by YSE.
3. Lastly, we have this Hearing Test, (a follow up to the Can you hear like a teenager post). The latter did very well online, with 3268 diggs, a whole load of attention on reddit as well as 72 comments on the post itself. YSE reports 152 inbound links.
Right, so we know they worked. But how exactly. What is it about these three bits of content that makes them appealing to the social media crowd at large?
If you've got a well know enough brand that appeals to a niche there is absolutely nothing stopping you churning out regular, successful content. This is the case with MacLife. According to di66.net, the site had 16 stories go hot on digg in the last year and over half of those used something similar to the list format that works so well here. The Mac niche is a passionate one and this article appeals directly to that- challenging readers to "back up the passion" or "test your know-how against our list". Irresistible. Beyond that, the post is nicely (although not that nicely) laid out and will have genuinely interested a lot of its target audience.
The Toxel post was successful for a couple of similar reasons: it was in a list format and was of genuine interest to its regular users. Its layout was much easier on the eye than the MacLife post with identical format for each example (big, clear header and wide, bordered image). Unlike the MacLife post, there is virtually no introduction to the content; the images speak for themselves much more capably than the Mac geek facts would.
The NoiseAddict post was successful for different reasons. Firstly, the title on both the page itself and the Digg submission is challenging: Can you hear THIS? and Do You Know How Deaf You Are? There is an explicit invitation to interact in both of these. Of course, the content must deliver on this invitation and, in this instance, it does. Importantly, the test gives you a verdict on your hearing age, which you can compare both to the norm and to other commenters. This kind of 'benchmarking' has a high hit-rate in social media.
So, to the last aim of this roundup, what, if anything, can we learn from this content. I'll be taking three lessons away:
1. Great content. I know it's been said before a million times but it's Just. So. True. It's particularly true if you can generate content that is aimed at your existing readership; get them on board and talking about it and you're much more likely to bring in new visitors.
2. Lists work. Even if they're not that pretty.
3. If you challenge your readers in some way, you MUST give them a space in which to discuss/dispute the results.
Hope some of that was helpful y'all. Comments and suggestions for how this sort of post could be made more useful would be much appreciated! Thanks.