Why Linkbait is a waste of time

Link bait seems to have cropped up in 2005, Nick Wilson has the earliest mention of the term I have found, although I have not looked that hard. The point of this post is not to detail the history of linkbait, nor how to do linkbait or even what is linkbait.

There are far better people than me to go into that lot.

Lets take it from another angle.

You’re at a dinner party and someone says “You know, I really think George Bush is actually quite bright”. Everyone stops talking, mouths are open, everyone stares at the speaker. Of course you may not find the statement that shocking, but here in the UK it would be quite a bombshell.

The dinner party then descends into a somewhat heated debate about silver spoons, Harvard and Neo Conservatism, amongst other things.

If it was on the web they would label it linkbait.

– I thought you weren’t going to give us defintions of link bait?

I’m not going through a list of what does and does not define linkbait, I am merely thinking laterally to help juice up your creativity.

– Oh, carry on then.

You know those people who are always good for kicking things off, who seem to raise a controversial subject and then step back to watch the fun. That’s linkbait. I used to do it a lot in my younger days. It was kinda easy to find those buttons on people, to discover that sweet spot, that when pressed can provide hours of amusement as they rant about the price of Lemons and EU subsidies to Glockenspiel manufactures.

Of course I would never do that now, unless I am writing a blog post.

After finally getting linkbait and the whole social media thing – this came after over a year reading and digesting information – I find I am writing my blog titles in a more provocative manner. I keep the “boy eats own head” title which ran in the National Enquirer in the shallow depths of my sub-concious. Long with the fact that dog bites man is not news whereas man bites dog is.

Think about how many people blogged about Yahoo buying Mybloglog and how many articles you actually needed to read.

But it’s not just about controversy, at least not to me. It’s about starting conversations, which is the beautiful thing about wordpress or any other blog. It encourages the sharing of thought and ideas.

I wish more bloggers would answer comments, sometimes a blogger can simply step back and let the conversation develop by itself. But mostly they never bother commenting on some really good stuff shared by their readers.

I find the buzz of writing an article which gets picked up by other bloggers and linked to, commented and talked about is a real buzz. Starting the conversation and being part of a conversation about somethin which you care about can be better than simply making money from it, which is nice because this blog isn’t monetised.

This blog is a place where I can start conversations and meet people, make contacts and maybe do a few projects with the people I meet.

It’s like me inviting you to my home, putting on a pot of coffee and having a chat with you.

What would happen if I stood in the street yelling, “Is George Bush Stupid? Come into my house and chat with me”. It’s not an experiment I wish to do but if you try it out let me know how you get on.

So is link bait a waste of time?

– Finally he gets to the point.

It can be. If all you want is a few hits for your spamsense site then the true power of linkbait is wasted. It’s a smash and grab philosophy. But if you want to indulge in long term reputation building and invite long conversations into the wee the hours of the night, it can be very rewarding and not just financially.

My point. Link bait is about starting conversations on topics you decide.

– I thought link bait was about getting links?

It is, but I see getting links as part of the conversation.

Nick Wilson

12 thoughts on “Why Linkbait is a waste of time”

  1. Well um, thats one great title for starters 😀

    I saw it in my reader having read Todd Mailicoat’s superb post on ‘link baiting and the art of’ this morning and thought wtf? Is this guy for real!

    So of course, like the fish that I am, I was hooked and hauled in, ‘reel em in pardnor’ style.

    I must confess I was one who used to cringe at some of NickW’s finer titled posts over at TW as they didn’t fit in with my established mindframe of public politeness, but of course overtime I realised that thats what people want, people want a little bit of spice and juicyness, people like to be provoked and prodded and pushed, its what gets the juices flowing and stimulates debates.

    A bit like that awful rag the Sun. Its utterly full of sensationalist she-at but it hits the spots, it appeals to some peoples baser instincts, it dares to go to the heart of prejudice and ignorance and sticks it up on high on a flag and says, look! We think it too you ignorant fool, come on board and join the party – it gets people talking.

    Anyways, damn, I’m late. More of the same later. 😀

  2. Haha, there can be no finer compliment than making someone late whilst they post a reply to linkbait.

    It’s all about stimulating. Reaching down into the ancient parts of the mind and setting off an explosion.

    Write like the Sun, think like the Economist. That’s the style I think works.

    It’s the noble savage thing. Damnit, I can’t think of sources right now. Although John Carlton spoke about this in a podcast with Perry Marshal. I need to dig that out and reference it. Gary Halbert is also plugged in when it comes to grabbing peoples attention.

    But the thing is, you have to have kick ass content to back it up, sure the headline can be incongruent to the main post but it needs to follow a logical arguement.

    Look forward to hearing more 😉

  3. At a certain point you almost get addicted to the traffic hit, like some digital crack addict. You actually try and go after the really hard stuff like getting a homegrown politics story not from one of the major newspapers on the front page of netscape, just to see if you can. You think “can I actually get people to link to my story about weight loss pills” . If you get it, and I mean really get it, it gets almost scary.

    Knowing that you can push your own agenda across a series of online news sources is seductively frightening. Sure media manipulation has been going on for years, but it used to take a lot more resources than two guys working in their bathrobes could pull off.

  4. >Write like the Sun, think like the Economist. That?s the style I think works.

    Yes, bang on, agreed -if you are going to be outrageous or provocative then you’d better have something worth reading; else you are just going to illicit what a lot of crap type responses as well as see your credibility plummet too! A little like the boy who cried wolf and all that stuff.

    You are either pretty good at it, or pretty crap. I don’t think there’s any credible middle ground on it. Nothing wrong with a fine period of observation 😉

    Its great to get a good title and then read through and either laugh ones niags off, or sit there going, hang on a feckin minute and coming back with a deconstruction or defence of whatever it is thats riled you.

    I guess that is the thing is it not – its about stimulation, making that emotional connection, feeding the intellect and sparking the curiosity.
    Hit those targets with what you say and before long you’ll be getting the attention of your peers en masse. Make that splash in the pond, get all the other fish to ask ‘whats that noisy so and so over there up to, lets go check the bugger out’.

    On the flipside,should you overdo or overplay it, you could get labelled as Mr Sensationalist but hey, I can think of worse labels 😀

    p.s your link to NickW is the same as stuntdubl’s

  5. Thanks for the correction, one day I will post with zero errors.

    “Make that splash in the pond, get all the other fish to ask ?whats that noisy so and so over there up to, lets go check the bugger out”, I like that.

    I think in this world of noise and infinate information fatigue one benefits from being able to create a bit of sensation.

    Although it’s easy when you know how, I have a feeling that the path to linkbait Nirvana can only be traveled by people who are creative, intelligent, hard working and most importantly the ability to not really give a toss what people think of them. At least not some anonymous nonce on the Internet with zero trust.

    When you know people it’s different. You listen to them.

    But being able to withstand tidal waves of hate, even though it is only cyber hate, it’s still hate and I think there is a psychological aspect to this. Not trying to be zen about it, but I think you do need to acheive a certain state of mind. Grashopper

    I see Graywolf cross legged in front of the linkbait shrine, meditating on what the great unwashed wish to click on that day. The pungent smell of incense in the air. A bell rings. The Graywolfs eyes open And as if by magic a keyboard appears…….

  6. Sure, reputation counts for a lot. Its a presence thing. Its a shame, but most people aren’t too interested in what Mr not known very well has to say. Mr known not very well has to make a hell of a lot of noise within the right places.

    Take last night, I baited Nick with a comment over at his blog, his reaction was one of I read the first couple of paras and decided it wasn’t worth the use of my time, or something like that.

    Almost made me spit my tea through my nose, could almost feel the sneering contempt for someone who dared suggest that linkbait was a waste of time!Ha!

    I do wonder whether his reaction may have been different had your profile, and possibly mine, been considerably higher.

    Funny creatures these humans 😀

  7. haha, it sounded like you baited him out.

    I think it’s a different thing to go to someones blog and bait them rather than posting on your own blog and getting them to come over.

    I don’t have a problem with pissing people off in the industry as long as an equal amount of people say, yeah cool.

  8. Well yes…I could have rephrased my original bait a whole lot better perhaps!

    I thought it would have been interesting to hear his view though, hence the further prod.

    You are right though, its about balance. Some are going to agree and some aren’t, sometimes vociferously too. T’would be a boring old planet otherwise 😉

  9. Thanks, I just read it actual after finding in my referal logs.

    I see what you mean now, I thought you had made a comment and ….. anyway.

    Well at least he didn’t call it crap.

    Nick is link meister general so I don’t really expect my first few attempts at out and out link bait to impress him, but I wasn’t really writing for him, I was more writing for me.

    It’s like when Calancanis linked to me, I wrote the thing because I found the subject interesting and wanted to approach it in a different way.

    It’s about finding your voice and I think I have finally found mine, some people will like it some wont. As long as it’s worth a read that’s all I aim for.

    Whether Nick Wilson will deem my humble blog another visit, who knows. But I certainly owe you a pint for suggesting it. Cheers.

  10. Haha! Yes, linkmeister general indeedy!

    Hear you on the voice front too, say what you want to in a way you want to say it. If people like it, great, if they don’t feck em, that’s their problem eh.

    Mines a Stella 😉 (once ive completed my non booze new years resolution that is! )

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